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Call Poison Control!!!

poi-son [poi-zuhn] noun
1. a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health.
2. something harmful or pernicious, as to happiness or well-being
3. a toxic chemical or other substance, capable of causing injury or death.

So let's focus on the word "toxic" because my question today is how do you deal with a toxic person/relationship in your life?

Psychologists define toxic people as "highly insecure, angry and/or depressed people who only feel better about themselves if they make others feel worse". They increase stress levels and foster negativity. They basically rob you of your joy.

Pretty sure everyone has, had, or will have, a toxic person in our life. You know who they are.....

OK, just incase you don't......I'll give you a few examples.

Debbie Downer: someone who is just oozing negativity all the time. It could be a beautiful day outside and when you express how wonderful it is, they tell you that tomorrow calls for rain.

Nay-Saying Nelly
: someone who always tries to negate what you are talking about. They think they know more than you therefore they feel the need to constantly correct you.

One-uppin' Oliver: no matter what you are going through.....they have had it worse. In fact, they don't even take the time to talk about your issue and offer comfort or support. It turns into their experience/conversation immediately. These people also just "wait for their turn to talk" as opposed to listening.

Emotional Ellie: this person is an emotional rollercoaster taking you for the most unpleasant ride every time you meet. They can never keep it together and are always falling apart seeking someone to help them.

Jealous Judy: suffering from envy (as I have honestly admitted to).....but taken to a severe level where they are bitter, seething and miserable and act accordingly in day to day encounters.

Fault Finding Fred: They never take responsibility for their own actions. They point fingers and blame others constantly so to take any feeling of failure or wrong-doing off of themselves.

Timmy Taker: name is pretty self explanatory......all they do is take, take, take. Your time, your energy.....they just suck the life outta ya.

or how about

"I'm the Victim" Victoria: She always is the victim....whether it is her health, her lack of finances, her hurts from the past that she can never let go, even how that clerk looked at her at the checkout. I heard this phrase one time from a preacher on TV and I just love it. "It's time to call the "whaaaam-bulance" for all the whining."

The guest list to the Poison Party can go on and on.......but you get my gist on whose attending.

One of the easiest and most sensible ways to deal with these people is to just avoid them. That's pretty simple, huh?

But what about when you have toxic people that are integrated into your life and you have to be in contact with them on a regular basis. They could be your boss or co-worker. They could be your neighbor. Or even more "regular".......a close family member such as a sibling or parent. Now what?

Having a toxic person pretty close in my life.....I have wrestled with this for quite some time. And I don't have much sage advice, by all means. But I have had all these years to find out what works best (for me) and what doesn't.

First things first......I am learning that toxic people have issues within themselves. Their toxic ways have nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them.

I am trying to set boundaries and speak up when necessary to defend myself and my "space". Mentally as well as physically, I am trying to distance myself when possible. I am realizing that I can become their personal target or outlet for their own misery, insecurities, and low self-esteem......*if* I allow them to.

I would like to note that I am sensitive and have compassion for the reasons/causes of their toxicity. My heart breaks to think about some of the events that transpired in certain people's lives that brings them to this state of misery. Depression and the feeling of hopelessness must be crippling. But this does not change the fact that their toxic attitudes and behaviors will continue until I (you) stop allowing them to hurt or upset me (you).

So even when it might be difficult, there might be a time where you need to cut ties or at least avoid visits even if this toxic person is in your family. I cannot afford to subject my family to their negativity or the negative effect this person has on me. Often at times, after a exhausting visit or phone call, I am uptight and then take out my frustrations on the innocent people around me, my husband and children. And they certainly do not deserve it.

I believe that my responsibility to God as a parent is to keep my children/family in the most positive uplifting environment as possible. I also believe that He would want me to remove as much negativity as possible as well.

But I know, that as a Christian.....I feel conflicted with "giving up" on people. It feels like there is a gray area on where to draw the line, doesn't it? Even after all the hurts they have bestowed on me......I know that forgiving them and praying for them is the right thing to do, but (again, being real and honest here).....it is the LAST thing I feel like doing. So yeah, this is and continues to be very difficult for me to do.

Then I think..... what if God felt that way about me? Where would I be today? I am sure I was acting in a self absorbed, arrogant way when I was not following Him. It was all about me and my desires. I am sure I was toxic to be around, I can only imagine on how God should have "cut ties" with me. But Praise Him and His endless grace. Not only did He forgive my ugly sin.....He continues to forgive me every day.

Jesus tells us this in Matthew 5:44-48 "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ................If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Of course it is easy to show kindness and love to our positive group of family and friends, they are a pleasure to be around! But the true testimony of walking the walk of Jesus (instead of talking the talk) is to extend that kindness, love and forgiveness to those who hurt us. I believe that God uses every relationship/experience for a reason. It might be for us to press deeper in Him by seeking His word/counsel with these events. It might be an opportunity for us to witness to others and bring peace to troubled people.....whatever it is, be sure that God does not do anything just randomly.

I have, on more than one occasion.....lifted my eyes up and say.....OK, God.....the insides of my cheeks are shredded from biting them to keep from lashing out.......can you hook me up with some healing here?

So for now, I will pray for them (and myself!). I can pray that the darkness is lifted off of them and they see The Light. I can pray that they find the peace and joy that knowing and following Jesus brings. I can pray that I am able to put on a filter when I need to be around them. I hope that they see a supernatural reaction "in me" when they try to inject their poison. I pray that they see Jesus as the perfect antidote. I pray that God blesses me with the perfect words to deliver His message of hope and pure happiness.

So how about you? How do you handle the Debbie Downers or the Timmy Takers in your life?

I'm all ears!

Peace and love~


Sassy Granny ... said...

This is such a huge, challenging topic. Over the years I've learned a good deal about how NOT to be one of the toxic people myself (I am not a victim, savior, know-it-all, super-human, whiney, nag). That helped a bunch, because what you recognize in yourself you can see so much clearly in others.

The other thing I've learned is that most toxic people are blind. They don't see it; they don't get it. That gives me prayer ammunition: Lord, please open their eyes and grace them with truth.

Sometimes I confront, in love. It's tough, and I need to be sure of my motives.

At other times I merely pray to be an example. I stake out the high ground and remain there, regardless of their toxicity.

The most troublesome to me are those that see themselves as victims. Their's is anything but an intentional life, which seems such a great poverty.

Be blessed,

~*Michelle*~ said...

@ Sassy Granny

This rocks:

"because what you recognize in yourself you can see so much clearly in others."

wow! good stuff. thanks for this!

Mich said...

Have you been "drinking my Koolaid?!!!" I vented a day or so ago on my blog about a very similar situation. I needed those words today.

It is so hard sometimes not to be caught up in the world. Christ calls us to be in the world, but not of the world. Kind a hard when you are a human with feelings. Good thing He gives us daily strength.

Great post. Thanks for once again sharing.

Jen said...

Goodness, Michelle. I needed this post today. We've talked about my "toxic" person lately. Since there is no avoiding this person, I need to be more prayerful in my interactions with her.

christy rose said...


What a great topic to bring up and discuss. There is a one time answer for these poisonous lifestyles. It is the poison control, which dispenses the perfect love of their Heavenly Father to them in mega doses.

We can lead people to the poison control but we are not to replace Him. But, as we get filled up on His love ourselves, we can overflow into their lives as well giving them small doses of His love, yet leading them to the One who perfectly loves them always and forever. He is their true cure! But, it is important that we recognize that we are not God and we are not to be the one whom they look to and lean on just the one who points them to and calls poison control for them. There is a time and a place to allow healing to be dispensed from us but I agree with you we must guard against allowing poison to be in easy reach of our children. We must lean on the Holy Spirit within us to guide us on this matter on an indiviual basis. It is a good thing, He is so close by huh?
This was very enlightening!

Tina said...


Thanks for visiting my blog today...

I have had toxic people in my life before and you really have to let them go....

Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility said...

I'm not terribly good at handling situations like these...I usually just try to keep interaction brief, or not allow their negativity to bother me!

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

Complicated issue for sure!!!

I think the most important thing is to understand yourself and identify if a toxic relationship is happening and decide what you need to do.

But not easy.

Kim said...

Wow...this is great!

I am not sure what the "right" thing is....prayer, definately, but I know that I have just found myself distancing myself from the "toxic" ones.

Not always the best solution.

Foursons said...

Wow- I so need to read this, but my eyes are half shut with exhaustion. I am coming back tomorrow to read more carefully. Thanks for visiting my blog...and commenting. I LOVE comments!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I needed that, thanks!

Robin in New Jersey said...

I had to enter counseling to figure out how to deal with the toxic person in my life. Not easy at all.

The Greggs said...

We have a pastor/friend that once said about some toxic people in the life of he and his wife that,"We respond to them based on who we are [redeemed, forgiven] not based on who they are." That has been THE best advice I've ever been given for this kind of thing. Especially since I have parents and siblings and "friends" who are this way.


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