Is there someone in your life who is extremely difficult — who we might call a “toxic person”? If so, you know how stressful it is to deal with them. And, unfortunately, encountering a toxic person, whether in your family, workplace, neighborhood or religious community, is not uncommon.
Toxic people have the potential to do serious damage to your mental health (and possibly physically hurt you as well). That’s why it’s so important to recognize the signs of a toxic person and learn how to take care of and protect yourself. Below are nine articles that I hope will help you do this.
The term “toxic parent” is a bit nebulous and we probably all define it differently. Often, narcissistic or those with other personality disorders or mental illnesses, abusive, emotionally immature, and alcoholic or addicted parents are labeled as toxic.
Young children, even those with toxic parents, assume that their parents are typical. Without any basis for comparison, you think other families operate by the same dysfunctional rules and that everyone’s parents are cruel, unavailable, or controlling. Eventually, however, you realize that emotionally healthy parents show genuine concern for their children’s feelings, encourage them to follow their dreams, apologize when they screw up, and talk about problems in a respectful way. You realize that your parents are different.
Toxic parents cause a lot of pain and lasting psychological problems for their children. The good news is that it’s possible to overcome the effects of toxic parents. The first step is to be aware of what it really means to have a toxic parent and recognize the particular ways that your parents are dysfunctional or emotionally unhealthy.
One of the great things about being an adult is that you get to decide what kind of relationship to have with your parents.
You have choices – probably more choices than you realize. As a therapist who helps adults cope with their toxic parents, one of the biggest barriers I see is that adult children feel like they can’t make their own decisions; they think they have to keep doing things as they’ve always done them (the way their parents want them to).
Your relationship with your parents doesn’t have to be like this. And although you can’t change your parents or magically transform your relationship, you can begin to break your family’s dysfunctional patterns. You get to decide how and when to relate to your parents. You get to decide what’s right for you.
It isn’t easy to set boundaries with toxic people, but it’s something we can all learn to do and when we do, it’s empowering.
Boundaries are a way to take care of ourselves. When we set boundaries, we’re less angry and resentful because our needs are getting met. Boundaries make our expectations clear, so others know what to expect from us and how we want to be treated. Boundaries are the foundation of happy, healthy relationships.
Ideally, people will respect our boundaries when we communicate them clearly. But we all know that some people will do everything they can to resist our efforts to set boundaries; they will argue, blame, ignore, manipulate, threaten, or physically hurt us. And while we can’t prevent people from acting like this, we can learn to set clear boundaries and take care of ourselves.
Would your life be happier, healthier, and more peaceful without certain people in it?
It’s never easy to cut someone out of your life. And when it comes to family, it’s especially hard to accept that a family member is creating so much stress, anxiety, and pain that you can’t continue to have a relationship with them.
This post is for all of you who are struggling to decide whether to continue a relationship with a difficult or toxic family member. You’re repeatedly hurt by this person, have tried tirelessly to repair the relationship, feel frustrated that nothing seems to change (at least for very long), you don’t want to give up, but you don’t know how to move forward in a way that respects and nurtures yourself.
Are you repeatedly drawn into conversations or arguments that seem to go nowhere? Do you feel compelled to respond to accusations that you know are false? Do you feel like you have to justify your behavior or choices? Do you have a difficult family member who picks fights or gaslights?
Codependent relationships often feel “stuck.” Unhealthy communication and relationship patterns get set, and we seem to replay them over and over again, even though they don’t work.
If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic (ACA) or grew up in a “dysfunctional” family, you probably witnessed ineffective (or even hurtful) communication patterns as a child that were characterized by arguing, blaming, denying, and dishonesty. Unfortunately, most of us tend to repeat the communication patterns we learned in childhood – the ones we’re familiar with and that we observed.
A breakup or divorce is a loss that can shake up your entire life. You might feel confused, angry, or broken-hearted. It’s completely normal to feel all of these things. The end of a romantic relationship is painful. No matter the particulars, it’s a loss that needs to be grieved.
It’s natural to want to “get over” your ex and start feeling better as soon as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes in an effort to feel better, we do things that get us stuck and unable to move forward. There isn’t any quick or easy way to grieve such a significant loss. There are, however, ways to move your recovery along in a healthy way.
When you have been doing everything possible to get your partner to change a behavior that bothers or concerns you, and it still doesn’t change, you will eventually reach a crossroads in your relationship. If leaving the relationship isn’t an option, you must find a way to let go of your attempts to change or control your partner. If you continue to focus on your mate, you will continue to suffer. Letting go and accepting that your partner won’t change is a tremendous gift you can and should give yourself.
Unfortunately, people who are manipulative, narcissistic, and have a poor sense of self tend to repeatedly violate personal boundaries. One of the biggest challenges that people have with boundaries is figuring out what to do when someone repeatedly violates them. There isn’t a one-size fits all answer to the question, but this article has some tips to help.
Many of us continue to suffer after ending a toxic or abusive relationship. Healing is a process. And as you heal from emotional abuse, you’ll experience what I call emotional freedom — the freedom to be yourself and the ability to manage your own feelings rather than letting your feelings control you.
I hope you found these articles about dealing with difficult or toxic people helpful! If you’re interested in learning more, sign-up for my free weekly newsletter and other resources for healing.
©2020 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
Photos from canva.com.