Haven’t we all experienced those times when we were very uncomfortable in someone’s presence or conversation? And, with repeated exposure to their behavior we begin to feel a threat to our emotional well-being or even our physical health? In recent years, there has been much research on ‘toxic’ people and their resulting behavior. What do you do when you realize you are in a relationship with a toxic person, maintain it or release it? As we progress on both our personal and professional journeys, we can be more scrutinizing of how we conduct ourselves; and our resulting exchanges with communities and professional organizations, including the release of toxic behaviors.

“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” Isaacs explains that a toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal.

We all want our relationships to be positivity motivated and nurturing. But how do you identify when a relationship is returning nothing but negativity and becomes toxic to you? Use your powers of observation for these displays of toxic behavior:

  • Over critical to your achievements, performance, or insists on bragging on their successes
  • Overly competitive, demonstrates one-upmanship, always has a better story
  • Betrayal, reveals your private conversations to others
  • Promise breaking of commitments on a regular basis
  • Gossip-monger, spreads hearsay and rumors about you

To truly live to your fullest potential and enjoy close relationships is a responsibility to yourself and your personal health. Remember that you are not in control of the cosmic clock and every moment you spend in negativity cannot be brought back for you to relive. Use any of these suggestions in your review of whether to maintain or release the toxicity:

  • Determine whether the relationship is only for public use or status in a professional role
  • Identify how you feel after you have been with this person, agitated, double-crossed, joyful, loved
  • Determine whether you are simply a ‘dumping ground’ for the other person’s troubles. They leave your time together feeling unburdened and you feel depressed.
Releasing Toxic People & Behaviors