We all know those people who slowly break us down, chipping away at our self-worth. You may have known these people for so long that you don’t notice what they’re doing to you. Or maybe you’re hyper aware of them and their impact on your self-esteem, but unsure about how to address it. One thing is for sure: these toxic “friends” bring nothing but negativity to your life, doing more harm than good. And it’s about time to cut those toxic ties…

To help you figure out the energy drains in your social circle, here are characteristics and behaviors of toxic people:

1. They put you down. Toxic people will constantly put you down, sometimes in subtle ways. They’ll make you feel bad about yourself, and make you question your self-worth. They’ll be unsupportive of your goals and pick at your insecurities.

2. They try to control your behavior. Toxic people can be manipulative and controlling, making you do what they want instead of what you want.

3. They complain…constantly. Toxic people complain about everything and think the world is out to get them. They place blame on everyone else but themselves. Nothing will ever be their fault—it will probably be yours!

4. They blackmail you with emotion. Toxic people may withhold their emotions and stonewall you if you don’t do things exactly how they want them done. If you upset them, they may be hostile, or give you the silent treatment. It’s just a way of manipulating you into giving them what they want.

So, once you’ve identified these toxic people in your life…then what? How do you remove them from your life? Considering toxic people can be family members or lifelong friends, walking away and never looking back can be a real challenge.

Here are tips to make eliminating toxic waste a little easier for you.

1. Accept that they will not change. Toxic people have been like this for a long time and nothing you can do will change them. They must change themselves. Accept that they will not change and “fixing” them is not your project or responsibility.

2. Maintain boundaries. Toxic people overstep your boundaries, draining your time, energy and emotions. They want you at their beck and call—emotionally and physically—and before you know it, you’re dragged back into their unhealthy behaviors. Set up healthy boundaries you can stick to. They’ll push you and test you but you must maintain your boundaries.

3. Don’t fall for the drama. Toxic people are always filled with crisis and drama. Sometimes the drama is to elicit sympathy or an emotional response that makes them the center of attention. The drama is often created intentionally for purposes of manipulation. Don’t fall for it or you welcome toxicity right back into your life.

4. Understand that they may resist. Toxic people won’t leave your life without some kicking and screaming. They may act childish or throw drama your way when they realize you’ve set boundaries with them that you’re willing to enforce. Pick your battles, as some will not be worth your energy.

5. Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Healthy relationships lift you up, support you, and creative a positive and safe environment for you to be who you are. The more healthy, positive relationships you have in your life, the easier it will be to identify and remove the toxic people of your life.

Personally, I had some very unhealthy relationships in my life—toxic people to say the least. It wasn’t until I limited my time and set boundaries with them that I was able to begin the journey of believing in myself and chasing my dreams.

In my book, Be the Magic of You: Tools to Transform Your Life, I write extensively about the importance of building a “rock star” team. My team consists of my husband and daughter, my colleagues, and an amazing group of female entrepreneurs who have supported me throughout the process of writing and publishing my book and building my coaching practice.

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About the Author

teri karjala

Teri devotes herself to being the resource people need to uncover their greatest levels of joy and fulfillment in their everyday lives. From teaching courses, keynoting powerhouse events, and being a consistent abundance advocate, onlookers cannot help but leave her presence feeling energized, equipped, and ready to live life to its greatest capacity.