extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful
They walk among us, folks. They don’t whisper in secret or lurk in the shadows; they are loud, they are blatant, and chances are you’re currently in relationship with one or more. The sad truth is that toxic people not only exist, they exist in vast numbers, and consequently we have to deal with them. What is their objective? They aim to steal our happiness, our peace, our sanity, our resources, and/or our time and they will succeed if we allow them to. None of us deserve to be mistreated and stolen from like this, so we must learn to prevent this ill treatment. What’s the game plan? First we need to understand how to identify toxic people, then we need to establish the best way to deal with toxic people. I know you’re excited, (I am too) so let’s get right to it! What follows is a list (albeit not exhaustive) of ten categories toxic people typically fall in to:
“The Fast & Furious”
They are quick to jump to conclusions, twist your words, put words in your mouth, insult you, belittle you, chastise you etc. They are also quick to anger and unleash that anger upon you.
Snakes are fake. They pretend to be your friends but in reality they spy on you, gossip about you, and sabotage you. They secretly applaud when you fail and they refuse to applaud when you succeed.
They hurl insults but act as though they haven’t done anything wrong. Sometimes they’ll even insult you and then treat you like you insulted them!
They accuse you of the same negative traits and actions they’re guilty of. For example, liars will lie to their hearts’ content but then accuse you of lying. Selfish people will ignore you to focus on themselves but then pause to accuse you of being selfish…
They remain oblivious to all the many wrongs they’ve done to you, but hold grudges against you for years, sometimes decades, even if you’ve done nothing wrong or sincerely apologized for the wrongs you’ve done. Because they can wrong you and feel no guilt for it they make no apologies and accept no apologies. Their motto is: “You’re the guilty one, not me, so if you’re hurt or upset it’s your own fault; get over it…”
They lie profusely to your face and behind your back. In fact, they lie so easily and with such passion they make you wonder if they actually believe their own lies. Even when they’re caught in a lie, instead of being honest and coming clean, they’ll either try to lie their way out of it, or get angry and start an argument to distract you from the fact that they lied.
They are so in love with themselves they believe they are superior to everyone else. If you share something positive they quickly shut it down with a negative comment. In fact, they always try to tear you down, they never try to build you up. This way you never appear to outshine them. One common tactic of a Narcissist is they attempt to dominate every discussion by yelling over you and cutting you off when you start to speak.
They are abrasive and offensive yet quick to be offended because they are hypersensitive. They simultaneously play the victim and the “perfect angel” to perpetrate the illusion that they’re always completely innocent and you’re always completely guilty. To keep this facade going they are quick to get defensive when confronted about their misdeeds and turn to attack you as though if any wrong was done it was somehow your fault. They play the victim so well they incite others to sympathize with them and turn against you.
They call only when they need something from you or want to argue. They are always takers; never givers. They feed off you and once you help them they ignore you until they wish to feed off you again. They feeds off your time, your abilities, money, your possessions, and your talents, and instead of being grateful, they act like they are entitled to these things.
They love drama, start drama, fuel drama, and then claim they hate drama. They live for arguing and will continuing to fuel an argument even when it’s obvious they are in the wrong.
Bonus: “Perfect Storms”
While you’ll undoubtedly identify toxic people who fall into more than one of these categories, “Perfect Storms” are a culmination of all these categories. Beware, they are by far the most toxic.
How Do I Deal with Toxic People?
Excellent question! After learning the signs and identifying toxic people in your life, you have essentially separated your friends and loved ones from your enemies. Half the work is done. The first step in dealing with these human enemies is to remember that our fight is not against humans at all. So revenge, unforgiveness, trading insults, and the like are not solutions here. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” We must recognize that toxic people are slaves to their sinful nature and those enslaved to their sinful nature are often tools of the devil and his angels. Thus the solution isn’t to battle the tools but the ones wielding the tools. So here are the three quick steps in dealing with toxic people.
Separate from Your Enemies
If you found a king cobra in your house, would you just shrug your shoulders and allow it to live with you? Of course not! You’d probably scream, jump twenty feet in the air, and get away from it as soon as possible because you know that just one bite from a cobra could kill you. So just as your first instinct would be to separate yourself from the poisonous snake in your house, your first objective must to be to separate yourself from the toxic individuals in your life. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” You choose those with whom you walk and consequently you choose what you will become, so choose wisely.
Forgive Your Enemies
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Unforgiveness is like a porcupine; it only hurts the one who holds on to it. While we might think we are somehow getting revenge on our enemies by not forgiving them, we’re not hurting them at all. However, we can set ourselves free and find peace by forgiving our enemies. Now it is important to note that forgiving doesn’t mean you have to open yourself up to further abuse. You can absolutely forgive someone and not be in a relationship with them any longer.
Pray for Your Enemies
Although it seems counterintuitive and is often difficult, Jesus didn’t call us to battle our enemies but to pray for them. Why? Our enemies are lost and need help. We weren’t always where we are now, and we’re all still growing and learning how to be better people. Ideally, God will reach our enemies just like He reached us and one day they’ll have a change of heart and no longer be our enemies at all. This type of change is not something we can achieve through hate or force, so we must turn to God. In Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Do toxic people exist? Absolutely. Have we all suffered one way or another because of them? Absolutely. Do we have to continue to suffer? Absolutely not. We have to power to determine who is toxic and now we know how to deal with those toxic people in a Godly way. We find peace when we seek God and are determined to live at peace with our neighbors. So the next time a toxic person insults you, lies to you, demeans you, or disrespects you, don’t lower yourself and retaliate. Rise up and take the high road. The Scripture that has helped me the most in succeeding this area is Romans 12:17-18, which says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
God bless you guys and stay toxic-free.