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Success Hack: 3 Tips to Liberate Yourself from Toxic People

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When I was a first-year history teacher in a Chicago high school, I quickly stopped going into the teachers’ lounge, which I dubbed the “Ain’t It Awful” Club.

Worse than the haze of cigarette smoke that constantly hung over the room was the cloud of emotional negativity:

“Can you believe what they want us to do now?”

“I got that Simmons kid again this year in math. He’s a holy terror.”

“There is no way you can teach these kids. They are totally out of control!”

… It was a constant stream of negative judgments, criticisms, blaming, and complaining.

I didn’t want to be around that kind of negativity. I knew it would make it so much harder for me to be the positive, life-changing teacher I wanted to be.

Fortunately, I soon discovered a group of dedicated teachers who hung out in the library and ate together in the teachers’ lunchroom. They were passionate about their jobs and believed they could overcome and handle anything that was thrown at them.

I started hanging out with them and implemented every new idea they shared with me – as well as a few more that I picked up from my weekend classes at the University of Chicago.

As a result, the students voted me Teacher of the Year in only my first year of teaching. That never would have happened if I had allowed myself to get sucked into the “Ain’t It Awful” Club!

Don’t let toxic people infect you with their negativity

All of us have to deal with at least a few toxic people in our lifetime.

You know the kind of people I’m talking about…

They’re the ones who are always complaining and blaming others for their circumstances. They judge others, spread negative gossip, and always talk about how bad it is.

They tell you your dreams are impossible and try to dissuade you from believing in and pursuing your goals. They’re constantly trying to bring you back down to their level.

A simple phone conversation or email exchange with them will bring tension, stress, and disorder to the rest of your day.

Sound familiar?

Maybe these toxic people are your coworkers, or your old group of friends from high school. Or maybe they’re your family members.

No matter who they are, they have the power to drain you of the energy, faith, motivation, and self-confidence you need to achieve your goals and create the life of your dreams.

IF you let them, that is.

Here are my three most valuable tips on how to liberate yourself from their negative influence.

Tip 1: Get clear on who the toxic people are – and how they’re holding you back

Make a list of everyone you spend time with on a regular basis— your family members, coworkers, neighbors, friends, people in your civic organization, fellow members of your religious group, and so on.

When you’ve completed your list, go back and put a minus sign (–) next to those people who are always negative, critical, and complaining, and a plus sign (+) next to those who are positive and nurturing.

As you make a decision about each person, you might find that a pattern will begin to form.

Maybe your entire workplace is filled with toxic personalities. Perhaps it’s your friends who nay-say everything you do. Or maybe it’s your family members who constantly put you down and undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Once you identify them, you’ll begin to see how they’ve been influencing your outlook on your life and career – and holding you back from creating the life of your dreams.

Tip 2: Stop spending time with them

You’re better off spending time alone than spending time with people who will hold you back with their victim mentality and their mediocre standards.

I know, it might be easier said than done… especially if those toxic people are your co-workers or family members.

Maybe you don’t feel like you can remove them from your life right now. At the very least, I encourage you to severely decrease the amount of time you spend with them.

And remember, nothing is impossible – it’s always a choice.

If you work in a toxic environment, apply for a different job. Tough market? Upgrade your skills to be a more attractive job candidate.

If your family’s negativity is slowly poisoning you, have an honest talk with them and tell them how their negative words and actions affect you. If they don’t listen to you or honor how you feel, stop spending time with them. It really can be that simple.

You have the power – and the right – to remove people from your life if they constantly attack your sense of self worth and are preventing you from becoming the best possible person you can be.

Tip 3: Surround yourself with positive people

Here is the easiest way to insulate yourself from toxic people: fill your life with positive people instead.

Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories.

Seek out successful people who have already accomplished amazing things in their life. This is one of the most powerful ways to bring more success and happiness into your life – by hanging out with people who inspire you and can give you the support and advice you need to achieve your own success.

Where do you find successful people?

Join a professional association. Attend your professional conferences. Join the Chamber of Commerce or your local country club.

If you’re a young person, join the Young Presidents’ Organization or the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Volunteer for leadership positions. Join civic groups like Kiwanis, Optimists International, and Rotary International.

Volunteer to serve with other leaders in your church, temple, or mosque. Attend lectures, symposia, courses, seminars, clinics, camps, and retreats taught by those who have already achieved what you want to achieve.

Your life will be so rich you won’t have any time to spend with toxic people!

And who knows? Maybe your success will inspire those negative people in your life to aim higher in their own lives as well.

A great place to find a tribe of supportive, encouraging people

One surefire way to meet more positive, inspiring, and motivated people is to attend a personal development event such as Breakthrough to Success – a five-day event I hold at a luxury oasis in the Arizona desert every August.

So many participants say they found their “tribe” at Breakthrough to Success – life-long friends who encourage, support, and motivate each other as they continue on the path to creating their ideal life.

Click here to learn more about this life-changing event:

BREAKTHROUGH TO SUCCESS

[NOTE: If you register before May 29th at midnight PST, you’ll save $500!]

And if you’ve had to deal with toxic people in your life, please share your story in the comments!


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Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.

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Mina Thompson
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Mina Thompson

The toxic people in my life are/were my sister and my niece. It is always negative, negative, negative. After talking with a retired doctor friend of mine for about 3 hours, he helped me realize just what Jack said about how to handle it. I realized that in a way, my sister had held me back my whole adult life by trying to constantly bring me down to her level. She really took a lot of energy from me by always talking baby talk and playing the victim. Once I realized this, I pulled away and started telling myself that… Read more »

Sheryl Simons
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Sheryl Simons

Very good! Hugs!

Mrs.Spring
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Mrs.Spring

Thank you so much Jack Canfield for those insights. Thanks to you I now understand why I’ve been dreading someone at my workplace: every other time I speak with him, I feel drained, discouraged and beaten up afterwards during several hours. Now I’ve got the tools to build a strategy in order to protect myself from him. I’m full of hopes. 🙂

liz4horses
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liz4horses

For some reason your comment reminded me of a Chair of the Department I had to work with. I was told when I started the job, a VERY awesome international science program to educate young people to learn to love math, science, and just learning…..that this man yelled a lot, and not to let him get me down. One day I had replaced batteries in a test unit designed for a whole classroom of students. I recycled the batteries into other science kits where it was not a test to need new batteries for best results for each student. The… Read more »

Christine Dsr
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Christine Dsr

Great advice ^^
Keep it for your day

Horatio Civalero
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Horatio Civalero

OK True.. not easy if that Toxic Person happens to Be Your Boss..Pays you even more than average on top of that makes it even harder to Break away..Little by Little I am my Pay may reflect or even suffer, however I am Am Somewhat Happier and need to Find Another Venture asap..

liz4horses
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liz4horses

One of my toxic persons was my boss. The Chair of the department, I realized at one point it was not IF he fired me, it was when, he fired everyone………..he yelled at everyone. And when he DID fire me……..I told him “my doctor will be so happy, he has been pestering me to retire”………..he said, “you are not upset” I said NOPE. and walked out. My desk and computer were already purged, I had known for a few days that he was going to fire me……….he was mad because I had been subpoened into a hearing on the grants,… Read more »

Roopa Sharma
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Roopa Sharma

i always do it………

C. Leal da Costa
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C. Leal da Costa

I have been like a victim of toxic people for many years. they interfere in all that I do, from Doctors´appointments to work on the internet! First they interfered with my job at Companies. Now they are surrounded by like-minded people who even I do not know personally and are undermining my decisions.There is envy, jealousy and so forth.I read your book “The Success Principles” and made Vision boards and gave to my Family.THnak you for your advices and God bless you.Please, publish as anonymous.

Vanetta White
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Vanetta White

Thank you for that. For a long time I have been dealing with toxic people. I really never knew how damaging being with or even around toxic people can be until I had gotten sick. Thank God it wasn’t too serious. That lesson alone taught me never to deal with toxic people.

jOsh lugEmbe
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Jack, this is a very good post. Toxic relationships are to be avoided at all cost. I know you suggest that if the toxic people we are dealing with are within the family, then we should sit down and try to ‘tell them how their negative words and actions affect you’, but I think as far as we know the principles of personal growth, this won’t work. Why it won’t work? Because if people throw negative words towards you, most of the time they don’t even consider them to be negative. In other words, they are unaware of their positions.… Read more »

Sheryl Simons
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Sheryl Simons

If we reject all the neg. People in our lives there will be no one left! But we can chose to spend most of our time with the pos+ ones!

jOsh lugEmbe
Guest

I agree, Sherly. I agree that we should choose to spend more time with those who are positive about life. Positive about other people. Positive about things. Positive about themselves. And positive about the future. It’s really difficult to spend time with toxic people and hope to somehow control how their words or actions affect us. And I think you’d agree ? that, more than anything, we must live our values . This is what we must radiate to others. Once they know that we don’t live anything out of our values, then they’ll either choose to change their words… Read more »

liz4horses
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liz4horses

I agree. In my twenties I figured out that if I only stayed with my perfect friends, I was going to be pretty lonely so I started dealing. One of my sisters, God rest her late soul, was on time at work, a Captain of the Sheriff……but at home, she was ALWAYS late. SO, I just said, I am not comfortable being late, and will meet you places. We did and it worked for decades until she passed from cancer. A friend, was truly unreliable. She would say she was going to the beach, or a movie, or to the… Read more »

liz4horses
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liz4horses

I think, as part of my long decades of mediation, and starting community and school mediation programs I have a great faith in talking. BUT you have to learn HOW to talk positively. AND you have to learn to listen, for a certain space to the exact opposition, NOT the whining, the real “juice” (as it is called in mediation). I worked for many years doing the five minute interviews to create a contract between a juvenile and the Judge for a special rehabilitation program for juveniles. I learned to say, What do you want to do with your life,… Read more »

drpolly
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drpolly

What if I found out (after reading this post obviously) that the toxic person you mentioned is actually my mom, what should I do? Stop spending time with her? That’s so unfair to her.

Sheryl Simons
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Sheryl Simons

Sometimes , as in your case you might be an example of positivity. I heard a story of a young man who’s mother was a complete alcoholic, but he treated her with love and respect, rather than abandoning her. But you must be strong to do this. Practice with a friend or coach:)

liz4horses
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liz4horses

MY Mom decided she was going to retire, and come live in the family estate. I did not want her there. I had two kids, was raising a nephew, and going to law school. I said, OK, but bring your rocking chair, and sit on the porch, and SHUT THE F)#@(*% up. I do NOT want you to interefere in my life. She rented out her house, got in the new car my sister gave her and spent months on a road trip she had never had time for with her career……..to visit old friends and family who LOVED seeing… Read more »

Beckie
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Beckie

Recently my toxic person is my husbandof 11 years, he’s an alcoholic and started smoking again a couple of months ago after 4 years off them. He suffers from depression and anxiety and is completely involved in himself. I love him. But jeeez it drags me down.

liz4horses
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liz4horses

I did not like my older son drinking and of course do not like his smoking. BUT, I had a horrible car accident, got hit by drunks racing, and had to return to the family manse where he was living. We decided to sell the estate to help my niece and nephew pay off their law school loans……..and moved into a smaller place. I decided, you know what, even if MY self destructive behavior is eating an extra bowl of granola with some yogert now and again, or training bad horses and racing off road………it is no different than his.… Read more »

john boh
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john boh

to avoid negative average mediocres, who holds you back and bring down to their level, that means you have to avoid all singaporeans 97 % of them and civil servants in singapore who are robots to me who are programmed to hold others back. and to bring others down to their working class level.

liz4horses
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liz4horses

In my work, I have so many clients, I have to tell them, I am only here to work with those who want a hand, not a hand out, and not an ear to listen to you whine. We all have to whine once in awhile…….but…..I love what you said about to really deal with it we must deal with ourselves, and I think that if we listen to people whine too long, we take away their chance to deal with themselves. I went to a seminar at the LA Times Women Conference and the young woman was supposed to… Read more »

Laura
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Laura

While I agree with everything in this post, I wonder what you would recommend when the toxic person is a spouse or parent? Those are pretty unavoidable. Suggestions?

Rose Connolly
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Rose Connolly

thx for the tips. had some neg. family members and just had to distance myself from them
never felt better in my decision. also let go of old friend of 20 yrs and that was right decision too