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  • Writer's pictureSonia Neale

Five ways to deal with toxic people in your life

Dealing with people who continually act in toxic ways is mentally exhausting. For the emotionally vulnerable and people with Borderline Personality Disorder, it can be devastating, even a life-threatening event. Here are five ways to help neutralise mental and verbal poison from other people.


“You can’t have a piece of this cake, you’re on a diet.” “Is that your third glass of wine, you have work in the morning.” It appears to others the advice is good, but you feel yourself shrinking inward and somewhat nauseous with an ominous feeling of déjà vu. Walk away, eat the cake, drink the wine, and pretend you didn’t hear them. What comes to mind immediately when I typed the first two sentences is to slowly and delicately mash the cake into their face. You shouldn’t do that, but imagine you are doing it. Rather satisfying. You don’t have to justify your decisions to anyone.


Ghosting people, for no apparent reason, is very much passive-aggressive behaviour. Feelings can range from mild annoyance to feelings of rejection and abandonment, or feelings of wanting to self-harm or attempt suicide. People who ghost others can just be unable to commit to an event or be avoiding potential conflict. Perhaps set a boundary by letting them know you feel a certain way. Addressing this head-on without ambiguity can help.


When you voice your fears or frustrations to someone and they tell you that there is nothing wrong, and it’s all in your head, you can start to doubt yourself and question your own sanity. Hang onto your psychological truth. Trust your instincts. The other person is trying to gaslight you. It would be better to air your problems to someone who has a track record of listening and responding well. Choose your confidants wisely.

Shunned and Ignored

Being ignored is like ghosting, only in real life. If you are emotionally vulnerable this can be frightening and make you feel confused, unsafe, isolated and alone. This is so difficult because you have no power or control, and feel swept up and out to sea. Sometimes there is no answer, no resolution to this problem, you have to adapt and survive the best way you can.

Flaking out

You’ve made arrangements to meet up and the other person cancels citing they have to take their grandmother’s dog to the vet to get its nails clipped. Once is fair enough. If the other person cancels a second time due to obscure reasons, that may be a coincidence but probably not. But a third time, it is definitely a pattern of behaviour. Chances are they treat others the same way. It’s not you, it’s them. This person is definitely flaky as. Stop making arrangements immediately. If the flake makes arrangements to meet up with you after this, set some boundaries, politely decline or call them out on their flakiness.

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