Are the people in your life helping or hurting you? Unfortunately the people you surround yourself with can hold you back from achieving your goals and growing into the best version of yourself.

This was the case for me. I have long been a people pleaser, groomed from my childhood and school days to be the quiet, sweet girl who goes along with everything. When I started talking about going after my goal of becoming an entrepreneur I got a lot of unsolicited feedback. It really started to bug me because I was always so positive with people when they were going after their goals.

Our relationships should lift us up, not put us down.

It lead me down a path of self help to help me understand what was going on. I learned that when you start making big changes to your life, some people will not like it. They like you the way you are. It can bring up feelings that they aren't going after their goals or worse, they like you in the previous insecure version of yourself.

It's difficult to know when someone is problematic for your growth and it can be even harder to separate yourself from them when you find them.

How to spot the toxic people in your life

This was very hard for me to come to terms with. Because I had an underlying belief that I wasn't as good as everyone else; when I had people who wanted to hang out with me, I just felt so lucky. Writing that down makes me super sad for the girl I was for so long.

To find clarity in who is in your corner, you have to come to terms with the limiting beliefs that you have about yourself. Toxic people are drawn to people who have these hangups. They may not even realize it. Since I had this feeling of unworthiness, I tended to attract friends who wanted someone to lift them up and make them feel good. I ended up in a lot of one-sided relationships where I put a ton into the friendship but didn't get much in return.

The more you grow to understand what is causing your limitations, the more clearly you will begin to see where you aren't being treated properly.

Things that really worked for me were reading, journaling, meditation, and just getting honest with the way I felt. Self-reflection leads to self-awareness. Once you start to accept your authentic self and know you are worthy of having great relationships, your ability to spot the not-so-great ones will become stronger.

Notice how you feel when you spend time with people. Do you feel drained or like you can't be yourself? Maybe you have to watch what you say because you are afraid of being judged?

It's difficult to know when someone is problematic for your growth and it can be even harder to separate yourself from them when you find them.

Our relationships should lift us up, not put us down. It doesn't mater if these people are your family or friends you have known forever. You deserve people in your life who love and support you for who you are not who they wish you would be. Identify your core beliefs and where people have been overstepping.

How to cut them out

Now that you know who is a potentially toxic person in your life, what can you do about it? First of all, I recommend giving them a chance to change. People treat you how you allow them to treat you.

Once I noticed who the people where that had been causing me stress and anxiety, I began putting up boundaries. With one person in particular, when she disagreed with something I was doing she would yell and cuss at me. As a boundary, I would calmly tell her that I loved her but would not allow her to speak to me that way. After the warning, if she continued I would hang up the phone. It sounds harsh, but it's what I had to do. It took a bit of time, but I haven't had to do something like that in a long time.

As a less extreme situation, a friend of mine would constantly make snide comments about my daughter. She had been my best friend for years but had clear views on how she thought I should be raising my daughter (despite the fact that she had a baby and my daughter was a teenager at this time). I would tell her when her comments hurt my feelings. She would apologize but the comments continued. Internally, I understand that the comments have more to do with her fears, but I also was not going to continue allowing it. We don't hang out anymore, which may seem sad, but now I also have lost all the frustration and anxiety I had when hanging out with her. I recognize that this allows for more space for friends who are supportive of me and my family.

The process of putting up boundaries is difficult. Because you have never done it before, and especially because the toxic people will hate it. In my experience, they start talking about you to other people. While this will hurt, you must recognize that this behavior is further proving to you that the boundaries you set were absolutely necessary. You can't control other people's reactions, only your own.

Even though realizing someone is toxic is incredibly difficult, doing the work to limit your time with them or completely shut them out is incredibly freeing. It will feel icky for awhile, particularly if they don't react well to your boundaries. Once you are on the other side of the hard work, you will feel a freedom you have never experienced before. There is nothing like it!


Erin Moody