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By Dr. Janet Scott

The Mid-South Tribune

The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE

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Toxic People

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems that you cannot hold for a minute longer, never give up then, for this is just the place and time for the tide to turn.”   -Harriet Beecher Stowe-

            As you continue to empower and believe in yourself it is important to focus on how you treat yourself, how you interact in your relationships, have you reached your goals and what keeps you directed on your journey. Sometimes we are fully charged when beginning our self-journey but we lose steam after a while. Our priorities become fuzzy. What has changed? What allowed you to become sidetracked? Your self-confidence and positive attitude seems to have been infiltrated with toxic. Toxic is of or relating to a toxin which is a poisonous substance; harmful or destructive. In this case, the toxin is self-defeating thoughts or interacting with negative thinking people.

Positive vs. Toxic People

 We are all born loving, caring, nourishing people. Some tend to accentuate these qualities; others tend to do the opposite. Research is unable to conclude if people are toxic due to the result of their environment (way they were raised) specific biological make-up (genetic composition) or a combination of both factors.

            Everyone’s behavior fluctuates. The most positive person behaves in a toxic manner at times. While the most toxic person is at times nourishing. These patterns are dynamic and changing.

            Toxic people manifest phoniness, manipulation and deception. Nourishment of their needs are detrimental to others whom they often use for their own needs. They need a continuous supply of people since they use them and leave others to withdraw from them. Relationships with toxic people are unstable and superficial. People who are toxic are chronically dissatisfied. They are constantly blaming and complaining. They have a negative attitude about themselves and the world. They seem to be attracted to trouble and unhappiness. They rarely seem to enjoy themselves. They are good at giving backhanded compliments; putting their feet and everything else into their mouths; and using the “I was only kidding” syndrome.

            A toxic person, who can be quite draining, can drag down even the most determined nourishing people. Nourishing individuals are concerned about their personal growth. They are aware that they will be unable to give nourishment to others unless sustain their own health. They assume responsibility for their own needs. There is a willingness to state openly and directly what they want. They are generally persistent in striving for what they want.

            There are toxic charged people who allow events to control their lives. There are also positive charged people who remain in control of their lives no matter what life throws them. Good things happen to positive charged people because they look for good even when others see only the bad. Positive charged people are both powerful and empowering. They are leaders. They are successful. They believe in themselves and their abilities. Their enthusiasm and self-confidence affect everyone around them.




            It is important to assess your life and progress toward your goals on a regular basis. It is also essential that you evaluate your relationships. You need positive people in your life not those who are draining you of your energy.  You need people who encourage, support and share your vision. These are the individuals whom you draw strength from in a time of weakness. When you are down, you need to be able to pull yourself up.

            If your relationships tend to take you down as oppose to challenging and evaluating you then you need to take a second look at them. What is making these relationships unhealthy? Being able to break away from a toxic friend is a difficult task. If it is gong to keep you healthy and positive, then it must be done.

            Don’t try to change your toxic friends. Change yourself! Find other friends. Seek out those who empower you, who inspire and complement you, the people who enable you to see great possibilities for yourself. It takes an enormous amount of energy to reach your goals. Don’t let someone else’s lack of vision restrict your growth.

            You don’t need people who always agree with you. You need people who will be honest and have your best interest at heart. They know how to give you constructive feedback which helps you grow mentally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. It doesn’t mean the feedback will not sting but you do know that the person is on your journey.


Changing Toxic Behavior


            We all have the power to choose whether we are going to tap into our negative or positive self. Choosing the positive self means:


1.      Changing negative self-talk to positive

2.      Staying focused on your goals

3.      Listening to the way you respond to questions

4.      Changing your “ifs”, “buts”, “woulds”

5.      You are unable to reverse the past; deal with it; then let it go

6.      Taking responsibility for your life. Stop blaming and complaining

7.      Changing the way you view your problems

8.      Changing negative attitude to positive

9.      Looking for the good in any situation

10.  Using your sense of humor

11.  Surrounding yourself with positive charged people

12.  Seeking professional help when needed.



 Dr. Scott is a contributing columnist for The Mid-South Tribune. She is a National Board Certified Counselor and a Tennessee licensed professional counselor with a mental health provider designation offering individual, group, couple and family therapy. Her office is located at 1331 Union Ave., Memphis, TN. 38104; phone: 901-722-8751.







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