EXPERTS SHARE SECRETS TO DEALING WITH TOXIC PEOPLE (FRIENDS, FAMILY, LOVERS)
Dan Pierce from Mentally Fit and Dr. Sherrie Campbell, PhD talk about toxic relationships with toxic people. You'll learn the warning signs of a toxic relationship, and what to do if you discover you're in one. Relationship experts respond to the video below.
TOXIC Relationship Experts respond
Dr. Carla Marie Manly
I am a practicing clinical psychologist in Sonoma County, California. I’m an author—Joy from Fear (Familius, April 2019)—my book touches on many of the topics in Dr. Sherrie’s interview. Much of my work—whether with individual clients, groups, speaking, or writing—focuses on creating healthy relationships.
I am in agreement with many of Dr. Sherrie’s points, yet I also disagree with her on some basic issues. The below will outline the points of agreement and disagreement.
- I absolutely agree that toxic people generally are self-focused and want to be “right.”
- There can certainly be a lack of insight on the part of a toxic individual.
- Yes, there are times that it is essential to cut ties with a toxic person in order to heal and enjoy relationships with those who are healthy.
- It is true that control is an overarching issue for those who are “truly toxic” versus those who have “toxic traits.”
- A lack of a sincere apology is often a hallmark of those who have toxic patterns.
- Indeed, self-doubt, anxiety surely arise as a result of interacting with those who are toxic.
- Healthy people want closure.
I believe that those who are “truly toxic” DO have the power to shift. I have seen this in my clinical practice and in life. Although this is somewhat rare, it does occur for a variety of reasons (e.g., hitting a true “low” in life, changing values with age, and loss). Dr. Sherrie feels that a truly toxic person is unable to shift as they “can’t see inside the self”; yet—with dedication and focus—one can learn to “see inside the self."
Dr. Sherrie notes that the prior focus in psychology has been on “putting up with the abuse” from toxic people. This simply isn’t true. My bookshelves (and brain) are filled with examples of authors and clinicians who have been wonderful advocates for creating healthy boundaries and moving away from toxic relationships. “Putting up with the abuse” has NOT been the focus.
Dr. Sherrie notes that the behaviors of a truly toxic person are “not that all different from a healthy person” and that it’s just a difference in persistency and consistency. I agree with the her on persistency and consistency, yet the behaviors of a truly toxic person are FAR different from those of a healthy, well-balanced individual. Truly toxic people have an array of unhealthy behaviors that are often beyond the understanding of a healthy individual.
Truly toxic people, contrary to Dr. Sherrie’s assertions, are often NOT lacking insight. Some truly toxic people have incredible insight—and they use this insight in very unhealthy ways (e.g., manipulation).
I believe that Dr. Sherrie oversimplifies certain issues around “truly toxic” people without offering insights into the spectrum of behaviors, personality types, and clinical diagnoses.
Dr. Sal Raichbach, PsyD
I agree with Dr. Campbell’s explanation of how to recognize when you’re in a toxic relationship and with the many ways in which she describes the actions and behaviors of a toxic person. I also agree with her advice that it is critical to “have the courage to love yourself enough to take care of yourself” and to take the time and examine the percentage of time you’re feeling horrible vs the percentage of time you’re feeling good.
Dr. Sherrie commented that with any mental illness there are mild, moderate, and severe forms. Yet, she seems to believe toxic people can’t really be treated successfully with therapy. Near the end of the video, she states, “Toxic people are bad people who act good sometimes; they are not good people who have bad moments sometimes.” I believe it is possible to treat toxic behaviors and traits. If the individual is willing to seek help, they can get better.
Dr. Linda F. Williams, DSW
I agree that toxicity is an equal-opportunity dynamic that is no respecter of relationship or familial status. I also agree that toxic relationships need to end.
What I would like to have seen is an acknowledgment that toxicity can be a mindset issue and not always a personality disorder. I notice that, even in the media, individuals tend toward labeling certain behavior as a narcissistic, borderline personality disorder, and the like. An individual's inability or refusal to self-evaluate does not necessarily throw them into a DSM category of narcissism or a personality disorder. It could mean they have never been challenged or forced to do so.
This is what I tell my clients: Decide that you deserve better and make it a deal breaker. Understand that not everybody, regardless of the relationship, recognizes, appreciates or is will or able to reciprocate your values. Feel free to cut your losses.
Recognize what you can and cannot control. Your sphere of control excludes everybody but you! The degree to which you control yourself increases your influence on external situations, circumstances, and relationships.
False responsibility will weaken your personal power. Learn to draw the line between your responsibility and the responsibility of others to own their wrong.
Look for patterns. Examine your life for patterns of toxic relationships. If you see an evident pattern, it is time to look deeper into your own mindset to determine where your perspectives and perceptions may be off. Seek professional guidance in this area. Patterns are telltale signs that it’s not “them.” It’s US!
Finally, the most powerful life lesson I share in this regard is this: Your greatest power is realized in the truth of who you are. Know that truth.
Stacie Boyar, Counselor
My name is Stacie Boyar, I have a master’s degree in education as well as mental health counseling. I work at a private practice in Coral Springs/Parkland, Florida called Grace Counseling. We offer individual, couples, and family counseling as well as teacher groups, women’s groups, and DBT groups.
I enjoyed Dr. Campbell’s video, “How to Deal with Toxic Relationships” and have since followed her on Facebook where I continue to learn from her. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Campbell’s discussion on dealing with toxic relationships.
As malleable children, we adapt to our emotionally harmful, unsafe, and sometimes dangerous home lives because we have no other choice. To a typically developing egocentric child, it make sense to them that every child grows up the same way as they are being raised. They do not yet have a schema to fully understand their predicament. This child develops maladaptive coping mechanisms in order to survive within the toxicity surrounding them. The maladaptive behaviors or coping mechanisms could include anything that distracts the child from his or her reality or makes them feel safe.
What we learned as children in order to survive in a toxic household ultimately is carried over into adulthood. These adults may experience anxiety and depression, doubt their intuitions, doubt their emotions, and doubt their reality. For some adults it is imperative to break contact with their toxic past in order to move forward. When there is no other choice and all other routes have been exhausted, cutting ties is the only way to foster and nurture your mental health.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS RESPOND
Andrew Mondia, Author
I'm Andrew Mondia and since 2004 have been on a personal journey working on myself through self-help and going to workshops to help me mentally. I have read books and studied various works on esoteric approaches. My main area is New Age stuff. I strive to surround myself with people who align with being in a supportive positive environment. Raising my vibrations to be in the realm where I can serve people and be of inspirations through my works.
I do agree about setting boundaries to those that are toxic. After all like attracts like and if it goes against what you are looking for then you need to protect yourself. Important thing is to be aware when a person is toxic and how it affects you. If it is family I would not cut ties but rise above and only have contact whenever necessary. Sometimes a person can be toxic due to mental illness like in my case my Aunt who I was close to. I loved her and she was very supportive of me though she had toxic behaviors due to her illness.
Not everyone in my family talked to her after a certain point as a result. I still did but also recognized her toxic traits and her illness. It is important to be strong when dealing with toxicity in your life from people. After all, you are sending a message out to the universe if you accept this or not. What you do shows up in your life. Who you surround yourself will eventually and could take over your life. The important thing to remember is to be strong in yourself and who you are. Your values are important and I agree that if you are in a Toxic relationship distance is good even cutting ties.
Focus on what it is you want in your life and do the steps to get there that you are inspired to do. So if you want to be surrounded by great people who support you and are there for you. That encourages you to reach for the stars. then focus on that.
I look at life as people are meant to be in your life for a reason. Some a day, others a month or year and some a lifetime. If they are meant to be in your life; they will rise above to your level and be a part of the life you desire.. This journey you are on is a part of your life lesson. The universe responds to your needs and what you want.
Michael Arnold, TED X Speaker
As manager in a start-up, I had found my dream job, working on solving problems. I told a room full of people “I love my job!” but, everything changed after that day. A new plant manager was sent in to “help.” We’ll call him the kicker, he gave the management team a motivational pep talk. “If you guys were responsible for putting a man on the moon it would have never happened because you’re all too stupid”.
I felt like I had been kicked, over the next 5 years, 7000 people left a plant of 2500 people. This toxic environment affected everyone. During this time, I walked up to Charles our production manager and started yelling at him. “Why in the blankety, blank, did you run those parts, when I told you not to?” Charles replied, “Michael, just stop that’s not you.” Charles was right, I was becoming someone I didn’t respect.
I believed yelling and being disrespectful would get results. I had learned toxic leadership from a bad leader.
I would add that toxic behavior is not just a family issue, it is a workplace epidemic. I have personally seen this same behavior in 6 different workplaces out of 7, normally driven by a plant manager or a senior level manager. Companies think these people get results but it cost them employees and cost their employees unnecessary stress. This stress adds up to $300 billion per year, according to the American Institute of Stress. I agree with Dr. Sherrie, these toxic bullies will not change their behavior unless someone from above makes them change it. I talked with my 95 year old Grandma about my toxic work environment and she recalled, „I walked out of my first job,“ because of bad behavior from an abusive leader. That was almost 80 years ago, toxic leadership is so last century. I am hopeful that Millennials will be the generation to change this corporate culture.
Nance L. Schick, Attorney
I am an attorney/mediator who asked one of my sisters to stop contacting me, after she and her husband could not stop attacking me verbally. Her husband also physically intimidated me while I was visiting my mother at a rehabilitation center during her final days of life. This sister abused me physically and emotionally until she left home, and when I was 12, she told her boyfriend’s 16-year-old friend he could have sex with me to entertain himself while she had sex with her boyfriend. I forgave her for the past, but when the abuse continued, I told her not to contact me again. I no longer have to pretend everything is fine so our mother is happy, and I can still love my sister from afar. I want her to have a good life, but I want a good life for myself, too, and that does not currently seem possible with her in it. So, yes, I agree with Dr. Sherrie. Sometimes, we have to remove people from our day-to-day lives and focus on our own healing without the disruption that prevents it.
However, I don’t necessarily like the trend of labeling people toxic. We are all very complex, including my sister. She is not toxic to the core. She has the ability to be kind, when she wants something, such as praise or loyalty. She can be quite generous when it makes her look good—and especially when she thinks it makes her better than others. She is a reliable worker, and she was committed enough to finishing her bachelor’s degree that she attained it at age 50 (nearly 30 years after she would have graduated before she became pregnant). She has a lot of unresolved sadness and trauma, and she might have a diagnosable (and treatable) psychological, psychiatric, or social disorder. As much as she has hurt me and derailed my plans for success and happiness over the years, it is hard for me to consider her a “toxic person”, even if having her in my life is currently toxic for me.
Regardless, thank you for giving us permission to distance ourselves from painful situations. It does seem that most advice focuses on how to tolerate behavior, which taught me how to be in abusive relationships outside of my family. I spent years with friends and lovers who manipulated, raped, stole from, used, abused, lied to, and otherwise disrespected me because that was familiar to me. I thought I was supposed to accept it and didn’t realize I could choose something better for me. I have since learned to look for mutuality in my relationships, and when I do not have that, I ask for it. If I am denied it, then I remove myself and love that person from afar. We don’t have to spend time, energy, money, or any other resource on every person we encounter. There are 7.4 billion people on the planet, and there are plenty who we can build mutually loving and supportive relationships with, whether at home, at work, in our families, or anywhere else we go. We can love everyone else from afar.
Daphne Cross, author
My name is Daphne Cross and I am an Author of a memoir (Be Blessed In Your Wilderness Experience) I agree with 90% of what Dr. Sherrie said in her video. I commend her for speaking her truth about a very difficult subject matter. My 10% of disagreement with her is the part about cutting your family off. They are your family and you just cannot disown them like that.
There can be separate from them physical for years at a time,but emotional and spiritually you are tide with them for every. So, yes pray for them not prey on them! Its called conditional love when you do that and that makes you a toxic person also. I believe in telling your family, you hurt me and giving them time to see their mistakes and how both parties can come to some type of agreement.
Even if that means you both agree to leave each other alone. I believe that Toxic person can change if given the right resources and their willingness to change. Family is all that you have at the end of the day.