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Healthy Ways to React to Common Toxic and Manipulative Words

Verbal abusers, manipulators, those with strong narcissistic tendencies, and otherwise toxic people wittingly or unwittingly use language to hurt and exploit others. Sometimes it’s because they feel insecure and want to attack others to feel better about themselves. Other times they just want something from you and say untrue and hurtful things to get it. Or sometimes they want to justify their abusive behavior or shift responsibility.

In these cases, along with many others, they use words to manipulate you. In a previous article, titled Things Abusers and Manipulators Say to Their Victims, we looked at common things abusers and toxic people say to their victims and what it actually means. In this article, we will take a few examples and explore possible reactions to them.

10 thoughts on “Healthy Ways to React to Common Toxic and Manipulative Words

  • July 9, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I have been on the receiving end of two conversations that I think relate to this article. One from one of my sister-in-laws and the second from my other sister-in-laws (both of which are my husband’s sisters).

    Let me prefix these conversations by explains the I have Treatment Resistant Rapid Cycling Bipolar Depression.

    The first conversation was after the loss of a close friend. Those of us who have BD know that we feel hurt or loss to a greater degree than the average person. Therefore, between losing my mother several years ago, the loss of my 19 yo cat a year prior and then the unexpected loss of this friend, I was having some coping issues and the reappearance of migraine headaches (stress will do that to me). There was a time that I went out of state to visit our families for x-mas. Unfortunately I got a migraine on x-mas and couldn’t attend dinner with the family. When I saw my sister-in-law the next time she lectured me on how everyone has issues in life and I needed to “buck up buckaroo”. I tried to say the my emotions are tied to my Bipolar Disorder and she said she has seen other people with bipolar who live perfectly normal lives. She finally let up, said something about my husband really loving me and walked away (leaving me shattered and guilt ridden).

    The second incident was last month when my other sister-in-law, not knowing what treatment I have had and am currently undergoing, let alone my frame of mind, suggested I admit myself to a hospital so they could “make me better”. I tried to explain my out patient treatment and that I was not going to do this. I also explained that this is not a plan of treatment for my disorders and she, not so gently, said then your not doing everything you can to get better, got up off the sofa and walked away.

    Additionally, both of them have said I’m on too much medication, even though they have no idea what I’m taking and what each medication is for. They convinced my husband of this so he attended a psychiatrist appointment with me. He was informed that I am on the least amount and lowest dosage of any of her BP patients. Go figure!

    • October 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm


      I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with so many life struggles. I’ve been experiencing similar issues (although not BP) so I definitely feel your pain.

      One thing stood out to me in your recounting, particularly since I’m experiencing it as well (and again without a mental health diagnosis but with a medical diagnosis).

      You seem to be apologizing and blaming your BP diagnosis in your response toward the behaviors you are receiving. I would like to point out that if you remove your BP diagnosis, these behaviors are still unacceptable.

      Bad boundaries are bad boundaries regardless of whether you have BP or not. Telling you to buck up and opinions on how much medication you are or are not on does not define caring behavior. It does seem to define controlling behavior where you ignore your own limits and needs and submit to their wants and needs.

  • July 10, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Great description of the narcissist. I’ve been married to this person for many years. Now that I know the tactics he uses, I am able to deal with it. Your description was dead on right!

  • July 10, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    I grew up with a dad that showed me things but i never got to do building etc.late teens he became more distant .never visited me only to winge and moan.narcassistic very his 80s now getting worse.complete arse.causes trouble between me and fiance then denied any wrong doing.

  • July 11, 2018 at 1:24 am

    How do you respond, when you have a parent like that who calls you out for being rude and impertinent when you call them out on their mistakes and makes you feel guilty, telling you that’s not how you speak to your parents?

    • July 23, 2018 at 7:49 am

      Sitara, could you ask them to give you an example of how to call out a mistake? By very clear about your ‘red lines’ of not going along with any pretense and denial, whilst giving them the option of teaching you a healthier way of expressing it? I very much doubt they would know of a healthier way, from my experience of similar family dynamics. It sounds like their purpose is to silence you, keep strong and be careful not to take on the blame (in your mind) for their reactions.

  • July 19, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I agree fully with the article and have experienced such treatment from a so-called friend. I only hope I am able to respond appropriately if I am on the receiving end of her “this is for your own good. You’re too sensitive “ attacks in the future. It’s so easy to take their criticisms on board, mainly because the attacks are so forceful and the person thinks they are right and fully justified in stating their views.

  • July 30, 2018 at 5:06 am

    One if my favourites is “After all I’ve done for you”! Done with trying to figure these people out. Have no or low contact with them and have moved on with my life.

  • October 30, 2018 at 12:59 pm


    As usual, your articles are extremely informative, helpful and on target. That’s for adding clarity in a topsy turvy world.


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