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Don’t Let a Toxic Person Steal Your Joy

Dealing with a toxic person in your life can be confusing, frustrating, and disheartening. These relationships can feel unfixable because that other person not only dishes out hurt; they refuse to take any responsibility or honestly discuss the situation. My own frustration has led me to develop these strategies for dealing with toxic people.

Don’t let a toxic person steal your joy. Here are strategies to help you deal with the toxic people in your life instead of getting caught up in their drama.

Dealing with a toxic person in your life can be confusing, frustrating, and disheartening. These relationships can feel unfixable because that other person not only dishes out hurt; they refuse to take any responsibility or honestly discuss the situation. My own frustration has led me to develop these strategies for dealing with toxic people.

For the record, I don’t think that many people are toxic in general. And it’s really not my place to label someone as toxic—it is an ugly word. So, when I say toxic person, I really mean toxic-to-me.

I’ve been trying to write about toxic people for a few weeks now but I couldn’t quite get my finger on what I was trying to say. I’d been dealing with an ex-boyfriend and I was trying to figure out if I should let him remain in my life or not. My sister finally said, “I don’t think he’s toxic but he’s douchey for sure.”

Then I was trying to write about toxic people in our lives that we could walk away from rather than the more difficult subject of toxic people that you can’t walk away from easily such as family or co-workers. Sure you might find the checker at Walmart a little toxic, but you can always choose another line. But when you are related to someone, have a long-term relationship with, or work closely with someone it is not so easy.

However, I finally realized that what I needed to write about and understand was how to deal with toxic people that are firmly planted in the framework of my life.

Here’s what happened. A few weeks ago, my toxic person did something pretty horrible and hurtful and not for the first time. It was one of those punches to the gut that just blindsided me. And while I probably shouldn’t have been surprised—I was. It took a couple of days for me to find my equilibrium.

All of the sudden, I was having toxic-person syndrome. (made up syndrome)

I was:

  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Having thought patterns that weren’t going anywhere.

Not fun!

Then yesterday it happened. Again. With the same person. And that’s when I realized that I did not want to let that person rob me of my joy again. Or of anything else such as productivity or a good night’s sleep.

Don’t Let a Toxic Person Steal Your Joy

Here are the markers that tell me I’m dealing with a toxic (to me) person.

  • They have some kind of power to make me feel like crap.
  • I can’t have honest discussions with them.
  • I can’t ever get through to them.
  • They aren’t willing or able to have any open discussions about the relationship

Of course, there are times you can distance yourself from a toxic person or even not have them in your life. But that’s not always an immediate option, so sometimes you have to take care of yourself AND still deal with a toxic person. That only leaves only one person I can change: Me.

Since I can’t change them and I can’t totally avoid them, I needed strategies to help me keep my equilibrium and my joy. I have to look at me and why I have that kind of reaction to that person or why they might be having one to me.

I wondered about my part in the relationship. Had I been too defensive? Had I said things to offend the other person? Was I not open to having a healthy relationship?

To be honest, I really did think I had been open to having a healthy relationship. I had put my defenses down and I thought it was going well. Until I got sucker-punched. For the umpteenth time. It was time to look at this in a new way.

I always start with my mental attitude. While I may never have the kind of relationship that I’d like with this person, surely it can be better. I made a few mental ground rules.

  • Accept the situation right where it is.
  • Concentrate on all the relationships that are going well in my life.
  • Have the intent to have a healthy relationship.
  • Remember that hurt people, hurt people. This person is hurting.
  • I will let my feelings of self-worth come from me—not what another person thinks of me.

As much as I can mentally be in a better position about a not-so-great relationship, I also have to remember that I don’t deserve to be hurt. It’s perfectly okay to have healthy boundaries and respect for myself.

With a stronger mental picture of this situation, I believe I will develop better physical tools for dealing with these types of people.

  • I can choose whether to have them in my life or not.
  • I can address the behavior if possible.
  • I can deal with this person in an unemotional way.
  • I will not ruminate or obsess about their behavior.
  • I will consciously choose my actions and interactions with these people.

As you can tell, I certainly don’t have all the answers for this situation. But I do feel in a much better place about this situation and others that may be similar.

One thing is for sure, I do not want to give a toxic-to-me-person any more power in my life or to rob me of one more minute of joy.

If you are in a situation that is unsafe to you physically or mentally, then you may have to make other decisions. Please take your welfare seriously. Sometimes removing yourself from a situation is the best solution. However, this isn’t always the case and for your own reasons, you may need to keep dealing with a toxic person.

In my case, when the more recent even happened, I did at first feel the hurt from the behavior. However, since I had already been thinking about my mental attitude, I was able to get back to my equilibrium much faster. My attitude is now more curious and open than it was before.

I also realize that I don’t have to fix this for me to feel better. I can feel better just by choosing how I’m going to think and what I’m going to concentrate on. Sure I’d love to have this person’s love and support. But I am not going to let the not having it right now, make my life feel like less.

I can learn from every situation and my final intention on this subject is that I am going to learn and grow from it.

As for the ex-boyfriend. Maybe he’s not a toxic person but he might just not be good for me. And that’s okay too.

Keep showing up my friends!

Other Helpful Posts

We are capable of more and most of us, myself included, know this with every fiber of our being. Yet, it’s as if invisible forces continually hold us back. What’s holding you back is a question that is important to answer.

Living life ON purpose and WITH purpose gives me more satisfaction than chasing happiness. Don’t freak out if you don’t know your Purpose with a capital P. We’re talking about living your life ON purpose—living deliberately—and living a life aligned WITH your values.

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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.
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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • MJ Sherwood June 23, 2016, 2:14 pm

    WOW this is so good. I am dealing with, as you said, a person that is Toxic to me. It is so hard. At first I did believe the lies then my husband brought me back to reality. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Sara June 24, 2016, 7:02 am

      You’re welcome! I’m learning too. It is hard to accept, but in acceptance, you are in a much better place to deal with a person. I wish you all the best.

  • Jen June 23, 2016, 8:27 pm

    I love how you defined a toxic person, as someone who is toxic to you. Identifying them and dealing with them is so important. Great post

    • Sara June 24, 2016, 7:08 am

      Thanks Jen. That was an important realization for me because the person I wrote about was not toxic (as far as I know) to everyone in their life. So, it also makes me have to take a look at my side of the relationship. Thank you for the comment!

  • Rica@Yoga Mat Monkey June 28, 2016, 8:13 am

    I enjoy the phrase, “No one can make you feel bad/inferior without your permission.” And while that’s true to a certain extent, it’s also true that some people have ill intentions and the energy/attitude they bring is unhealthy, even ugly. I like what you said here, and how you are taking back your power by shifting your focus and taking actions that feel essential to your own welfare. You are inspiring!

    • Sara June 28, 2016, 11:38 am

      Thanks Rica. This one has been particularly difficult. But by exploring and acknowledging it as honestly as possible, I do feel better. I think one of the hardest things about this, is that these are people that we want a good relationship with but can’t seem to make it happen.

  • Brooke November 23, 2016, 1:38 pm

    Thank you for your post. I am going through this with my SIL and its been consuming me…and I dont know how to not let it affect my joy and thoughts. I want to shift my focus onto other things but its been hard. The relationship makes me sad, because its not a good one, like I’d want it to be.

    • Sara November 25, 2016, 7:37 pm

      Brooke, it’s difficult when it is someone close to us, is toxic to us. Just try to keep your actions clean and authentic and don’t over think hers. It’s great that you want it to be good–but you can’t always control that. But hold that space for her–while taking care of yourself–you never know. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

  • TG March 23, 2017, 8:33 am

    This spoke volumes to me! I am going through this situation right now! I have been nothing but a good friend to her and supported her. It’s like every time I don’t do something that pertains to her or doesn’t include her, I’m going against her. She acts as if I can’t or don’t have other friends outside of her. Let me give you all a little background. I went on a trip to Las Vegas with two of my best friends last year and she gets mad at me because I didn’t call her while I was on vacation, I mean I was on VACATION! And when I returned she didn’t speak to me for like two months, I just couldn’t believe it! Then she apologizes to me for acting the way she did and so I let it go. It’s like she is obsessive! This last time literally just happened I asked my manager for some time off and my manager was like you never take this much time off and she asked me where I was going and I told her Puerto Rico. I am a very reserved person and I normally keep to myself. Now mind you I haven’t told anyone I was going, but my manager is all excited for me and she tells all my co-workers where I am going (yes I work with this girl) and so when we have a moment alone she makes a comment that “oh you didn’t tell me you were going to Puerto Rico” ( with an attitude) and I was like I literally was just asked to go today and she was like “Well go yal, Im not going to be here anyway”.(Oh by the way she is moving overseas her spouse is Active duty) All she does is brag about when she goes on her cruises and that she is leaving and she can’t wait to leave and no one says anything. But anyway back to the situation, so we leave work for the weekend and I return that Tuesday and let me tell you that was the coldest shoulder I have ever received in my life! She hasn’t spoke to me since and I had to do research to find out why and all I could say NOT THIS AGAIN! I have just decided to let her go and move on. My Joy and my peace of mind are much more important. Now none of my co-workers have spoken to me either and I guess she has gotten to them to and told them some lie, but I could care less and that’s none of my business anymore. I walk into work every day with a smile on my face because I deserve to be happy. Thank you so much for this Sara you have truly confirmed that what I did was best for me!

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