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How to Deal with Toxic People

How to Deal with Toxic People

In Part 1 of this blog series on toxic people, I outlined how to see when you may have a toxic person in your life. If you think you may have one, please know that you have the power to set boundaries for your own wellbeing!

To keep it simple, you can use the acronym TOXIC to remember a list of options you might consider.

(T)able it.

While certain things might automatically mean “canceling” a person (such as physical violence), other things might be harder to judge, especially if they seem out of character for the person.

You always have the option of just cataloguing your observation to see if a pattern forms.

[Related: Forgive Me: Two Simple Barrier-Breaking Words]


You always, always, always have the option to get OUT.

e(X)amine yourself.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to reflect on what underlying reasons may be driving you to remain in a toxic relationship. Do you feel the person "just couldn’t survive without you?"

If the person really truly couldn’t survive, then by all means please call 911 to get them the help they truly need…but don’t become their beast of burden.

[Related: Is Your Workplace Toxic? Nine Things to Consider]

(I)nvite the person to discuss with you.

Sometimes, we just need to learn how to express ourselves. Molehills become mountains, and labels like “toxic” or “narcissist” start getting applied, when all that’s really needed is a frank discussion and/or some firm limit-setting.

(C)hat with your support network.

If you feel stuck in the middle, stuck in your head, or just plain stuck, then consider chatting with a trusted friend, advisor, coach, clergyperson, therapist, family member, or someone who can listen, give you feedback, or offer support in some other way.

If you’re not sure whether or not a person is really “toxic” or not, please know that it isn’t really an official clinical term. It’s just a term commonly used in everyday colloquial English to describe an intensely negative view of a person, in a way that suggests that any sort of connection with that person could be harmful.

[Related: What's Really Weighing You Down and Keeping You Stuck?]


Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, known as Dr. Chloe, who heads a successful private practice with multiple offices in New York City focusing primarily on relationship issues, stress management, and career coaching. Serving more than 1,000 patients in Manhattan, Carmichael leverages technology with psychology to expand her counseling services across the country through online private and group sessions. To see more about what might be considered toxic behavior, click here to see her blog about the three categories of toxic people.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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