Signs of a Toxic Situation in Your Life (and what to do)

Sometimes it is very hard to pick out a toxic situation; is it all just in your head, are you overreacting and is the situation actually benign?
Two signs to help you figure it out are

You Have Anxiety
If going to work, to someone’s office or opening your mail or going on social media makes you anxious-it is a bad sign. Dread or anxiety is a huge sign that the person/s you are around are bad for you. Especially if you feel like you have to be very careful about what you say to them because you know they will get upset if you say the wrong thing.
People you work with or are in touch with often should not make you anxious. They should give you energy and make you feel great about yourself and why you do what you do. Interacting with people should usually make you feel happy. Happy about interacting with them and being part of something.
You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around people you work with or have close relationships with.

The Perpetual Negativity
No matter the occasion the first thing the person will say to you will be something negative. They will always find words to make you feel guilty, ashamed, regretful, or just plain hurt. Some people will also use sarcasm, insults, or other rude behavior. This negative behavior can come from a boss, a colleague, friend or family member that will always want to have one up on you each time.
For instance, a colleague will immediately share something “better” right after you finish sharing or even as you lend a relative a hand or give them something they desperately need they say things like,
“Took you long enough to help” or “some people they wait until you are down and out to give you something.”
This is toxic.

What You Can Do

Say Something: If you see that the person is always making you angry, upset, or sick right now, then you must say something. Let the toxic person know. This is important because they may not be aware of their behavior. Let them know how they make you feel and that you will not allow yourself to be treated like that anymore.

Set Boundaries: These are the lines you draw that tell people how far they can push a situation before you will no longer take it. If you do not draw boundaries; they will push you to your limits and beyond.

Stand your ground: Some people have been mistreating you for so long and are used to it so they will not take your change seriously. And will not understand why you suddenly have rules in place about how they can treat you. For this person to respect your boundaries and not go over the line; you must stand your ground and keep them in place.

Be Consistent: There is a good chance that your boundaries will be tested because the person will want to see how serious you are and will still try to push you. Be consistent and do not give in just because you are starting to feel better about your relationship. If you are not consistent things will go back to exactly how they were and it will be harder to get them to respect your boundaries in the future.

Cut them off: If the set boundaries are not followed-end the relationship. Yes, the other person will be caught off guard and yes they will likely have a lot to say about your decision (not so nice things) but for the sake of your health and wellness cut them off.

It can be hard to end a relationship but it the best way to take care of yourself and your health. Especially when the other person is not willing to treat you well and with respect.


A Zambian site sharing quick read articles around work, money and adulting life with selective interviews and quotes.
The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo