How to detox your life of negative people and not feel bad about it

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Firstly: my definition of a toxic person- Someone who complains and dumps their problems on you but doesn’t do anything to change their situation. Someone who is not supportive. Someone who makes you feel bad. Someone who shoots down your bright ideas, big goals, or bold (and risky) decisions that you need to make in order to be successful.

Secondly, this article isn’t intended to reprimand or paint toxic people in a negative light. Toxic people are usually in a place in their life where they are not open to constructive feedback or changing, so they are stuck in their current situation and don’t have the insight to see beyond their own struggles. And that’s okay. This article is meant to advocate for you so you don’t allow their negativity to impact your life.

First, why it’s important to detox your life of negative people:

  • Negative people slow you down towards achieving your goals. Whether they know it or not, they end up discouraging you from being ambitious or following your dreams by questioning what you’re doing and planting doubts in your head.
  • Negative energy from toxic people affect your energy level, not to mention your stress and anxiety. Ultimately, it’s your health and well-being, so you are responsible for taking care of it!
  • You need to create space for positive change to happen. Being in toxic relationships with people and allowing their negative energy into your life will hold you back from manifesting opportunities for your success. Also, releasing negative people will create space for the positive folks to enter, who will encourage, support, and help you grow as a person.

How to detox negative people from your life:

Step 1: Decide that you’re worth it

  • You need to feel as if you’re worthy of achieving your goals and changing into the person you want to be. Letting go of any negativity in your life will help you get there faster. You’ve got to be committed to doing this for yourself otherwise your guilt for letting go of certain relationships will keep you in the same place (more in Step 3).
  • How to realize you’re worth it: Decide. Simply. Make the choice and decide that it’s time you committed to yourself, your goals, and your dreams and you won’t let anything stop or slow you down from getting there.
  • Think about the negative side effects of holding onto these relationships. Ask yourself:
    • What effect are these relationships having on my life?
    • What are my goals and how badly do I want to achieve them? Are these people supporting my goals or slowing me down?

Step 2: Identify the toxic folks

  • Toxic people make you feel worse than when you started talking to them. They bring your energy level down. They leave you feeling bummed out.
  • There is a difference between someone sharing with you their struggles and challenges vs someone who constantly complains. The difference is someone who is genuinely struggling is willing to listen to constructive feedback and is open to change (and does change). Conversely, whiners and complainers don’t want to change and just want you to feel sorry for them.
  • They shoot down your ideas. e.g., They question what you’re doing. They may say something like, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t change careers because you have so much job security here. What about your benefits? Or your retirement?” This is pretty common and sometimes subtle and harder to notice. Even though it may sound like they’re giving you advice, in the end they’re just putting more doubts into your head because your actions may bring up their own fears and insecurity.
  • Toxic people can fall within the spectrum of being subtly draining to all around toxic and hostile (read: openly critical of you). But even if they fall on the less severe end of the “toxic people spectrum”, they will still bring you down. People don’t need to be outright poisonous to affect you negatively.

Step 3: Let them go

  • Just start. Use whatever method you think is appropriate. Avoid them. Don’t pick up their calls. Apologize for being distant but you don’t need to explain why or defend your actions.
  • You don’t have to explain anything to them unless you feel need to because they’re being persistent and pushy. This is because they are probably not in a state of mind to listen to what you have to say anyway and will probably get on the defensive if you try to explain yourself.
  • Do it gracefully and with love. Send them off with love and a prayer. Be open to the possibility that if and when they are ready to change and be more positive/supportive, then you would be open to rekindling the relationship.

Loving this? Then get on my list! It’s FREE!

Step 4: Don’t feel guilty

  • Again, you are worth it. You must be your own BEST FRIEND. If you don’t take charge of your life, nobody will do it for you!
  • You are not abandoning them even though you may feel like that. There is a distinction between abandoning someone vs letting them go so they can find their own way. If you’ve already tried giving them advice, encouragement, or even a wake-up call and nothing happened, then no amount of wise words from you will change their thinking or behavior.
  • It’s not your obligation. You may keep these people in your life because you feel like you have to or you’re obligated to. Maybe they’ve been your closest friend since grade school. Or maybe they’re your cousin and you feel obliged through your blood ties. Whatever the reason, people grow and change and it’s okay for relationships to evolve.

Step 5: Bring in the positivity baby!

Surround yourself with positive people. These are people who:

  • Support your ambitions
  • Encourage your ideas no matter how scary, risky, or seemingly unknown the outcome could be because they know how important it is for you.
  • Are up to big things. They are people you admire because you think they kick ass in life!

Hey, got toxic FAMILY members? Read part II of this article here!

This week’s tush-kickin’ challenge: Start identifying the negative relationships that you want to let go of and share with me below! What do you think are some other challenges besides guilt that will prevent you from walking away from these people?

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn Click to Tweet

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37 comments… read them below or… add one

  • Debbbie April 11, 2013, 2:56 pm

    I needed to hear/read this today. THANK YOU.

    • chinh April 11, 2013, 3:47 pm

      You are so welcome Debbie! Sending you love and hugs!

    • sheryl June 13, 2013, 2:19 pm

      all i can say is thank you for outlining this for me. I will reread this over and over until it sinks in. Guilt for feeling like I’m abandoning them…is the hardest.

  • Cody April 19, 2013, 8:49 pm

    What if THE negative person who pulls you down to earth with heavy chains everytime you try to share an idea or opinion is your father, in your own home, and you don’t have the financial state to move out?

    • chinh May 5, 2013, 7:22 pm

      Hi Cody,
      Thanks for your comment! I can understand the difficulty of your situation and relate to how you must feel. Even though you are unable to move out of your home now, this will not always be the case. You can decide and commit to giving yourself a period of time to save enough money or get another job that pays better so you can move out. In the meantime, YOU have control over how you feel. So choose not to allow the toxic people around you to hold you down from moving forward in your life. You can do this!!!

  • shelby July 25, 2013, 9:02 pm

    I really need some help, i have a co-worker that i use to be really close with when i first started my job, but as the years pass i have gotten fed up with hearing about how her life is horrible and how she is treated so poorly by everyone in her life. i have tried to help her and give her ideas about how she can change and remove those people from her life but she doesnt do anything or she does but then goes right back to them. Im litterally tired of hearing all the negative talk. it is wearing me out and draining me. i have to work with this person alot so how do i go about removing myself from that relationship. I have applied to other jobs to even get away from it. I feel like it is making me a negative person and is also putting some strain on other relationships. please help!

  • Sally August 3, 2013, 3:42 am

    What seems most challenging to me is dealing with 5 toxic siblings, most high-functioning with untreated mental illness. I am the kind of person who always give the benefit of a doubt. But I have been burned and hurt very badly by all my siblings to varying degrees. Actually I see it as a legacy of hatred and disrespect which is my mother’s legacy. I fall into believing that mybe this time it will work out and I will have a family. That is why I have been deeply hurt many times.

  • Chantel August 3, 2013, 11:40 pm

    Hey, wat if this toxic person is your soon to be babys father? How should I handle this situation?

  • Candice August 4, 2013, 4:48 pm

    I am struck, I need to put space between myself , my mom and adult daughter . I currently take care of both of their homes, however they continue to disrespect and feel entitle that I have to take care of them all will making me feel like a loser and I don’t do enough for them . I’m exhausted. They sell my energy and if I’m around them my joy / smile. One day at a time.

  • Shyla256 August 14, 2013, 10:41 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I have two negative people in my life my friends since the 3rd grade and my biological sister. This is the year that I let go without regret and free myself. I needed to read this today.

    • chinh September 22, 2013, 3:49 pm

      Thank you Shyla! Stay strong and you deserve to have unconditional love and support from those around you!

  • Denise September 1, 2013, 8:23 am

    Just your paragraph of you saying being your own best friend is words to live by…I’m always worrying about my status with family and friends times need to change and the whole part about the negative support to let them go
    Thank you I will continue reading up on your words of wisdom.being a mother, mate, and business owner I have been looking at the strength I can still carry and keep a positive attitude for my future

    • chinh September 22, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Thanks so much Denise! You are rockin’ it as a mother, mate, and business owner! :-)

  • Stranger September 10, 2013, 7:36 pm

    I really enjoyed your article. I completely agree with it. Sometimes i feel like im not meant to be here but if that were the case id be somewhere else. Negative people bring me down all the time. Its their little power trip. I mean they suck the life out but come judgement day they’re gonna have a lot of questions to answer. I dont think alot of them will be able to. But yea best of luck.

    • chinh September 22, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed my article. Keep your chin up, be a badass and no one will be able to bring you down!

  • Drew October 11, 2013, 2:55 am

    I really needed this article. Its a total confirmation of my current situation. I’m actually in love with a person that displays negative emotions . What i an attempting to give is just making it ” ok” his eyes.
    I’m learning to expect what I accept. Learning my worth. Thanks again

    • chinh October 11, 2013, 5:18 pm

      You are welcome Drew. I hope you really do start owning your worth because you are truly amazing and deserve so much more. Take a stand for yourself and let me know if there is anything I can do to support you. xoxo!!!

  • joyce November 7, 2013, 4:49 pm

    my daughters complained about there upbringing and they don’t want to talk about it or change things its just a constent mental abuse to me as well as verbal, today my daughter told me she don’t care if i died so i need this so badly

  • mando November 22, 2013, 12:53 am

    actually i have the problem with my girl friend , we been more that one year together , but she is not from educated background and she didnt raise within beloved family she used to live alone since 14 years old , i have met her on 25th of her age always complaining about her behaviou i giov her adive and all of those words but i dont get rewards , always thinking of braking up with here but my inside mind and guilty feeling stooped me since she lived with me and doesnt have a house
    please let me know what can i do and how can i do it

  • merlin November 30, 2013, 10:36 pm

    Thank you for your help, but I’m having a hard time finding the right thing to say to my own mother who is Manic/bipolar, undiagnosed…But have matched her up with every sign I can find on the issue… stressful and negative and in an unhappy marriage for 40 yrs with my dad. Any suggestions??? Thanks

  • Fiza December 4, 2013, 5:14 am

    Thank you so much for this Chinh. I really appreciate the time that you have taken to write this article. I just stumbled upon your website right now and i like it a lot!

    • chinh December 8, 2013, 10:31 pm

      Thanks Fiza! Glad you found it helpful. xoxo!

  • Sam December 8, 2013, 5:35 am

    Thanks for the article. I recently read some really good books on positive energy and finding happiness. Wow it now all makes sense. Your article just helps reassure me that I can take control of my own moods and thoughts. No longer will I be waiting for a new medication a doctor or some other person to make me happy. I just hope my positive attitude will trigger some awareness and happiness in those loved ones that struggle with negativity.
    All I can say is that from my own personal journey, my life virtually changed overnight. The power of positive thinking is the missing link I have been looking for my entire life.
    Than you Chinh Reading your article will make a big difference to how I now interact with the people that are close to me.

    • chinh December 8, 2013, 10:32 pm

      You are so welcome Sam! Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you have full control over your moods, thoughts, and how you live your life! You sound very empowered and I love it! Hugs, Chinh

  • leah December 19, 2013, 6:20 am

    I have so many negative people around me, including
    my brother and his fiance. She constantly put me down
    demeened me and bullied me. My brother always
    dumps his problems on me and snaps at me. How do I keep the two
    of them away from me, before I get sick,its hard when its family?

    • Gillian January 14, 2014, 7:06 pm

      It’s darn tough, thats for sure. But you have to remember to take things one day at a time and continually say to yourself it is OK to put yourself first and not have to deal with all their problems.

      Keep your distance, keep your schedule clear for important time for yourself and loved ones who cherish and respect you. You decide how much time you spend with these people and if they want you to do something and you’re not feeling it just explain you’re not available at that time.

      Lots of love

      • chinh January 20, 2014, 9:58 pm

        Great advice, thanks Gillian!

  • Lyn January 9, 2014, 7:36 am

    Thank you Chinh, it must be a blessing from God that I arrived into this article. It really is a tough battle and a brave decision for me to cut them off right now, but 3 years of being with toxic people is already enough of a pain in the ass. I’m already happy with my running sport and achievements, and the support I get from my family and real friends. I’ve learned so much from you, thanks a LOT! xoxo :*

    • chinh January 20, 2014, 9:59 pm

      You’re so welcome Lyn and congratulations for loving yourself enough to keep kicking butt in your life despite toxic people!

  • Gillian January 14, 2014, 7:03 pm

    I am finding this very hard, my sister is the toxic person in my life. I had taken steps to remove her from my life after I explained to her that her most recent treatment of me was unacceptable and deeply hurt me. This of course was met with puzzlement by her and a sense of entitlement from her that I should treat her with respect just because she is my sister. SO I stopped contact and asked her to leave me alone.

    I felt so much happier, my days have been drama free and life is good. However, she has now decided to get my parents involved who have contacted me trying to use emotional blackmail tactics as well as “can’t you just forgive her” moments. I have tried to be the bigger person here by protecting them from her behaviour. and I have asked them not to get involved for this reason.

    My sister continues to try and contact me repeatedly when I asked her not to. My dad is heaping a load of pressure on me saying he doesnt want us to fall out. I have tried to explain she has hurt me and I am trying to protect myself from her continuous crap but he seems to be of the mind I should just always forgive her no matter what and accept all her toxic poison.

    I dont know why I came on here, I just needed to put it into words I guess…..

    • chinh January 20, 2014, 11:06 pm

      Hi Gillian! I totally understand where you’re coming from and how difficult it is to be in this situation. If there’s one thing I recommend for you, it would be to do Landmark Forum. This is a personal development training that will help improve your relationship with your sister. After you take this training, you can talk to her about it too. I’ve done it and have vastly improved my relationships with all of my family members, and I am SO much happier now. Good luck hun!

  • Darren January 19, 2014, 9:12 pm

    I really need this, thanks for preserving my goals.

    • chinh January 20, 2014, 9:57 pm

      Awesome, you are so welcome Darren!

  • stephana October 26, 2014, 8:38 pm

    This is a complicated one. I have a friend who is always in a state of depression and anxiety..and also has a chronic illness. Every once in a while I have to have a “serious talk” with this person. about how the behavior affects our friendship. I also try to be constructive (not attacking) in ways to help both the anxiety and illness but the friend just get hysterical and behaves like a child if you do this.
    She seems completely unaware of how she affects people. She is always “the victim” Sadly the behavior wears you down. It’s almost like “the boy who cried “Wolf: too often. Very tough one to deal with

  • Andrew November 8, 2014, 11:27 pm

    Thank you for this article, I’m glad you put this out in the world because it was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’m at a critical turning point in my career and just took a risk to pursue my passions, and your advice hits home on several fronts. Thank you!

  • ronica November 11, 2014, 10:23 am

    Thanks so much! I have friends that I have grew up with that for some reason or the other makes me feel like we have to stay in touch. They are soooo negative that it drives me crazy. I for some reason feel obligated to them since we grew up together. This really helps me to move forward and I pray that I can keep things consistent in avoiding them politely.

  • Sabrina December 2, 2014, 8:36 pm

    This arrival is my savior! I had been trying to live a more positive life, and I was doing quite well, in fact, I made some new friends and made some serious attitude adjustments and I’ve felt, and even looked better since! I never realized how much they were keeping me down, from becoming who I am today. I felt bad leaving one of my toxic friends behind, but reading this article helped me let go. She was struggling with some stuff, but as the article had said, she wasn’t really aiming to fix anything. Having this one less problem in my life is truly working for the better, THANK YOU!!


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