By Deborah Adams

We are infiltrated with toxins every day. Researchers believe the most prevalent toxins are in our air, water and food supply. Environmental toxins such as PCB’s (persist though banned decades ago), Mold and other fungal toxins (Mycotoxins), Phthalates which are used in fragrances, VOC’s Volatile Organic Compounds (air pollutants), Dioxins from burning fuels, Asbestos which releases fibers into the air, Heavy metals in our water and body care products, Chloroform and Chlorine. That doesn’t include what we put into our body through the foods we eat. Toxins prevail in our foods such as nitrates, mercury, growth hormones, artificial sweeteners/aspartame, artificial colors, arsenic, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, processed soy, refined grains, as well as lingering pesticides that can lead to many diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, nerve damage, neuromuscular issues and headaches.

So what exactly is a “toxin”? Basically a toxin is something capable of causing disease or damaging tissue when it enters the body; a poisonous material capable of causing death or serious debilitation; acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous. When most of us hear the word toxin, we think of chemicals like pesticides or industrial pollutants. As above, clearly many of those run rampant throughout our world. But what if not all toxins that affect us come from the air, our water or our food? What if some of the most debilitating toxins come from the people around us? TOXIC PEOPLE. All of us know at least one person who can suck the life out of a room just by entering it – you know, the negative person that can break a happy environment within minutes. Gossip, put-downs, lack of accountability, argumentative conversation… the kind of person that puts you on edge and makes you feel nervous or stressed whenever they’re around. We have all learned about how stress affects our health – wouldn’t toxic people be just as dangerous as damaging chemicals?

To be fair, it’s not that the whole person is toxic, it’s that their behavior is toxic or your relationship with them is toxic. According to psychotherapists, it’s common for toxic people to: Create drama in their lives or in the lives of others; try to manipulate or control others; be needy (it’s all about them all the time); they use others to meet their needs; they are extremely critical of themselves and others; be jealous and envious of others; abuse substances or harm themselves in other ways and be unwilling to seek help from loved ones.

Signs that you are surrounded by a toxic person: You dread being around them, you’re exhausted or feel angry when you’re with them, you’re emotionally affected by their drama, you feel bad about yourself, you’re stuck in a cycle of trying to rescue, fix or care for them.  Additional signs of a toxic person: You emotionally ‘check out’, you feel like you’re being controlled, you feel like you have to ‘walk on eggshells’, the toxic person doesn’t respect the word ‘No’, you ignore your own values.

How do you deal with a Toxic Relationship? Set and maintain boundaries, focus on taking care of yourself, find ways to protect yourself from their unhealthy behaviors, and reflect on the relationship and consider how and why you are caught in an unhealthy human behavior cycle. If the person’s toxic behavior doesn’t change and it is too toxic for you to be personally healthy, send them forward in life with love and compassion and move forward with your own life. Ending the relationship may be painful, especially if you have a long history with that person, but ultimately you will have created space for much healthier and far more nourishing relationships in your life.

Other humans affect us more than any other factor in the world. Humans are unpredictable, mysterious and exciting… at least most are. There are other types of humans who are more toxic than they are precious. If you want to live the best life possible, try to surround yourself with the best people possible. More importantly, you will need to avoid all the toxic people who will make you worse off for knowing them. Mentally strong people understand the importance and influence that human beings have on one another. But the mentally strong aren’t flawless or impervious to all – with enough damage coming from enough sides, even the strongest will suffer, get stressed and possibly end up with sickness or stress-related disease. It’s worth taking a look into your life and the people you surround yourself with and do a little check-in. And it’s worth “Tapping Out” of the toxic people in your life.