12 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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We have all had our fair share of experiences with toxic people and surely none of us would want to relive those moments. Interacting with toxic people can drench your spirits and can leave you exhausted. It is unlikely that you might have never come across a toxic person in your life. However, chances are that when you felt uncomfortable and hurt in their presence you took the blame on yourself, instead of understanding that it is their toxic traits that are affecting your energy. 

A toxic person is any individual whose behaviour has a negative impact on your life and can leave you feeling upset. A toxic personality is classified as a mental health disorder, but it can be a sign of any underlying mental health condition or past trauma. 

Toxic individuals are manipulative to the core and their behaviour is abusive which can take a significant toll on your mental health. Moreover, toxic individuals are so controlling that you feel suffocated in their presence. These individuals are never appreciative and always shower you with their judgement. 

Research has proven that dealing with toxic people causes strong negative emotions to build up in our brain as a response to being subjected to stress. In addition, there has been evidence from studies that have shown that stress can have a detrimental effect on the brain. A region of our brain, known as the ‘hippocampus’ which deals with memory and reasoning gets severely compromised when subjected to stress. So, it’s not wrong to say that toxic individuals indirectly impair your mental health and this can have a drastic impact on your performance and mental wellbeing altogether. 

These toxic people can either be from your family, friends, or someone from your workplace. Their toxic traits can be detrimental to your success and peace of mind and can drain you of your positive energy in no time.

Understanding toxic people is no easy task because people who are toxic are great manipulators and they don’t give two cents about how broken and hurt you feel when they bash you. So you need multiple strategies to deal with their toxic behaviour. 

Another aspect that should be considered is that you need to ask yourself if it’s the other way around- are you the toxic one? Oftentimes we too become ignorant about the way we interact with others around us and end up offending them.  

Nevertheless, if you find yourself constantly surrounded by someone with a toxic personality that you interact with on a regular basis you might ask yourself ‘how to get rid of the toxic people in your life?’. Considering the impact toxicity can have on someone’s mental wellbeing, it’s not hard to imagine that you need an immediate solution to get rid of such people. The smartest way to deal with this situation is to adopt certain strategies and tactics that can help you overcome the toxic energy of these people, or better- help you bypass it. 

If you wish to address someone else’s toxic behaviour or eliminate your own, you first need to familiarise yourself with the toxic traits that can exist in one’s personality. 

There are a multitude of signs that can help you spot a toxic person. Some of the key points for their identification are listed below. 

  • They drain your positive energy: No matter how energetic and pumped up you are before meeting them, toxic people will leave you feeling remorseful. All your positive energy vapourizes into thin air when you are with them and you feel bad about yourself. 
  • They are self-centred and self-absorbed: It is a hallmark of toxic people that all they are concerned about is themselves. They don’t care one bit about what troubles you might have at hand. For them, they come first and don’t take it lightly if someone doesn’t prioritise them. 
  • They are great at lying and manipulating: Toxic people have a knack to create drama in the simplest of situations. They can manipulate a great deal, leaving you baffled. They are so good at what they do, that you even start to trust them and can put yourself to blame for any unpleasant circumstances that may have occured. 
  • They can’t be compassionate: Toxic people can’t lend a helping hand to someone and they find it difficult to comfort someone even though they expect everyone to shower them with kindness when they are down in the dumps.
  • They like to gossip: Toxic people love to spill tea and they do so to satisfy their egos. They enjoy telling bad stories about others to you and similarly, they talk about your negative events with others. 
  • They always play the ‘victim’: As stated earlier, they are great manipulators, and they use the victim card to withdraw themselves from unpleasant situations and swiftly shift the blame on someone else (could be you). To them, they are never at fault and they enjoy getting self-pity. 
  • They have multiple personalities: Toxic people do not always come off as cruel and haughty. Some days you witness a sweeter version of them and it’s likely that they need something from you, hence the nice cover. Other days, you can find them in their true selves, totally reckless about playing with your feelings and being unreasonably rude. 
  • They know how to play mind games and can be controlling: Toxic people love to play tricks on you and make you feel helpless. In addition, they are also great at controlling others. They may comment on your friends, for instance, suggesting who is worth keeping and who isn’t.  

Now that you know how to spot a toxic individual, it’s your time to ask, ‘how do I deal with one?’. For that matter, we have got you covered as we share some amazing ways to deal with such people who exhibit toxic behaviour. 

Knowing that our brain has plasticity, you can shape it and make it adapt to new techniques that can help you dodge toxic people in your life. Following strategies will help you ward off people with toxic traits from your life and it will not only save your energy but also keep your stress levels low helping you live a fulfilling life. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  • Know about your emotions

In order to emotionally distance yourself from the toxic people in your life who can be your family, friends, or coworkers, you need to listen to your heart and learn to communicate with yourself and understand your emotions better. Ask yourself ‘how do they make you feel whenever you interact with them?’ 

Often people say hurtful things when they don’t necessarily mean it because they are just under a lot of stress and influenced by a bad mood but this doesn’t categorise them as toxic. It is when most of your interactions with someone leaves you emotionally wrecked up and the last thing they do is be apologetic about their behaviour then this is a trait of a toxic person without a doubt. 

Knowing your emotions will help you navigate your future interactions. It will help you be firm in your decisions and you will have control over who you choose to interact with and it will be less challenging to distance yourself from them. 

  • Try to limit your interactions with them 

Initially, it may sound next to impossible to avoid that particular family member when you get back home from college or that one person at work since you have a lunch break every day at the office. 

However, through some smart tactics, you can win the game and easily escape their toxic zone. All you need to do is appear busy and excuse yourself- insert earphones or pretend to read a book when they are around. 

By limiting your interactions with them you will buy yourself peace of mind and will save your energy from getting wasted. 

  • Set boundaries 

In case you can not limit your interactions with them, try to draw a fine line between what you can and cannot tolerate and make it very clear to them. While you define your boundaries, make sure you stick to them, or else you will lose control and authority. 

For instance, if you don’t want to take part in gossip, make it apparent to them and you can show your displeasure whenever you see them crossing those boundaries. You can remind them by saying, ‘I have mentioned earlier as well, I don’t want to talk about someone. Shall we stick to talking about this recent project?’. 

If they don’t respect your boundaries, you have the right to walk away. 

  • Design an exit plan for yourself

Most of the time, things might not go as planned with a toxic person, and in a situation where no strategy works, exiting the scene is the only option you have; but make sure you do it gracefully. 

Even though they may make your blood boil by constantly ridiculing you, don’t lose your cool and gather all the strength within you to give a calm look, and politely excuse yourself from the scene. You can try saying, ‘Pardon me, but I have to meet some deadlines and can’t chat right now’ or, ‘Sorry, but I can’t discuss this with you right now, I’m stuck with an important project.’ 

  • Don’t make yourself available to them

Toxic people can sense who they can influence and once they realise that you are no longer giving in to their tactics they will simply move on and hunt their next target. 

You can learn a few lines for backup whenever you see them approaching, and you can simply say, ‘I’m extremely sorry, I have some work due at the moment.’ or you can say, ‘Something urgent just came up, I need to fix it as soon as possible.’ 

If you try to not engage with them for a while, they will get the impression that you are not available and you might have to deal with their accusations for a while, but it will prove fruitful in the long run when they stop showing up to you. 

  • Know that their toxic behaviour is not about you

Even though toxic people may make you feel like you are the one at fault, you need to remind yourself that it’s simply manipulation from their end and you’re not going to be guilt-tripped by them anymore.  

  • Don’t play into their reality 

Toxic people often play themselves victims whenever situations turn messy and are quick to turn the story on someone else in order to paint their image in a positive light. 

In these situations, you might feel almost pressured to nod, smile, and agree to everything they say for you don’t want them to get furious but this habit of yours encourages their play and boosts their toxicity. 

To tackle these situations, you should try disagreeing in a composed and respectful manner. Instead of outrightly saying that you don’t believe them, try saying, ‘You must be right, but I think of it differently,’ and then you can state facts without accusing them. 

  • Don’t let their opinion ruin your happy moments

It is noticed that individuals with toxic behaviour hold jealousy for others and they never celebrate someone’s win if it’s not them who is winning. It comes as no surprise that it can make you feel belittled when they think your promotion is no big deal, or the university that you went to isn’t the best in the city. 

Your happiness and satisfaction should not be influenced by their opinion since you have worked hard and earned your happiness and you have all the reasons to celebrate your success regardless of the toxic remarks that may come from someone. 

  • Try focusing on the solutions instead of the problem 

Dealing with toxic people is difficult, to say the least. However, when you focus your energies on the problem only you won’t achieve anything rather it will only give them more control over you.

Once you stop overthinking about how difficult they make your life and start working on strategies to limit their control over you, you will earn a great deal of peace and satisfaction. This problem-solving attitude will help you to reduce your stress and will feel confident next time you deal with them. 

  • Resist the temptation to fix them

The idea of fixing a toxic individual may sound very appealing to you but it is surely not that easy. In addition, the idea is not worth investing your time into if it will leave your mental health in crumbles. 

Helping people with toxic traits can end up in an infuriating cycle where they pay no heed to your advice and end up doing what they wish to do. Consequently, it will be wise of you to not preach to them and let them live their life their way. 

  • Try saying ‘no’

If you are someone who finds it hard to say ‘no’ to people then turning down a toxic person will be a big task for you because these individuals create such a dramatic situation if someone doesn’t abide by what they say. 

However, you are not alone in this struggle and you need to instil a few techniques within yourself and practice refusing these people to overcome this habit of affirming whatever someone says. Once you start saying ‘no’ it will become incredibly easy and you will be comfortable and confident as you set your values. 

  • Walk away from them 

Removing toxic people from your life can be rewarding for your mental wellbeing. You will feel your air lighter and a sense of heaviness will lift off you when you will longer be surrounded by their judgemental gaze. 

Walking away from toxic people does not mean you don’t wish them well, it simply means you can’t compromise on your sanity and energies any longer. 

If you are questioning how you can let go of your toxic traits then you have already completed the first and most important task; that is, to admit and accept your negative behaviour. Once you have acknowledged your weak points, the rest of the journey aiming to be a better person is easy. 

Here’s a list of things that you can do to mould yourself into a healthier version:

  • Be aware of all your toxic habits and try quitting them- you may not realise the impact your negative actions have on someone. To mitigate the damage you have caused others, try to become humble and apologise for your actions in the past.
  • Embrace empathy and compassion– trying to become compassionate and be there when someone needs you. Ease someone’s troubles and practice empathy.  
  • Don’t react impulsively– it may take some time to control your impulses but always think before responding to a situation. 
  • Let go of your ego– nothing is ever a big deal unless you make it one. Mostly, it is our egos that get the better of us and we become jealous and toxic individuals. 
  • Be vulnerable- there’s no shame in being vulnerable. As humans we are made dependent on one another and letting someone know about your darkest pits can earn you a loyal confidant. 
  • Seek professional help– getting therapy is perhaps the best option for your recovery. Usually, toxic behaviour is due to an underlying mental health disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. Treating the underlying mental health condition is the only definitive way to get rid of your toxic personality. 
  • Get enrolled in a luxury inpatient rehabilitation program– this will provide you an excellent opportunity to isolate yourself from the hustle of everyday life, while you recover in the comfort of a five-star residence under the supervision of a top-notch medical team.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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