10 guilt-free ways to remove toxic people from your life

Life comes with its own set of complicated, confusing, and downright problematic interactions with other people.

Most of us have experienced relationships with individuals who bring negativity, drama, and toxicity into our lives.

Encounters with such people have an almost magical ability to drain our energy, hinder personal growth, and put a damper on our overall well-being.

Creating distance from problematic people can feel extremely challenging, but it’s essential to focus on and prioritize our own mental and emotional health. 

Let’s dive into ten ways you can remove toxic people from your life — in a guilt-free and empowering way, allowing you to bask in a more positive and nurturing environment.

1) Identify toxic patterns

Spotting toxic patterns in others is a critical first step to removing them from your life.

If you find yourself feeling particularly awful around certain people, then examine the relationships for signs of:

By understanding these patterns, you gain clarity on who you need to distance yourself from.

2) Set healthy boundaries

We can all be a little loose with our boundaries sometimes.

Think of the friend who is constantly borrowing just a little bit of money and always has to be asked multiple times to pay it back. 

Or someone who seems to show up right as you’ve cooked dinner but has yet to invite you to eat at their place.

Establishing clear boundaries is crucial when dealing with toxic individuals. You can do this by communicating your needs and expectations, making it crystal clear the kind of behavior you will no longer tolerate. 

In the case of the friendship examples I’ve shared above, you could try the following phrases to help establish healthy boundaries around money or food:

  • “When I have to ask for money back all the time, I feel uncomfortable. From now on, please respect my wishes and don’t ask me to borrow any more money.”
  • “I know you’ve just arrived, and I’ve made food; however, I am on a budget and can’t stretch to feed you today. If you want to have a meal together, let’s schedule the time for it.”

Speaking up and holding a boundary can empower you, giving you the boost you need to create safe spaces for yourself and protect your mental and emotional well-being.

3) Practice self-care

A strong self-care routine can do so much for your feelings of inner calmness and stability — both traits you’ll need when dealing with toxic people.

Set aside some serious you-time to engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax. My go-to self-care sessions usually include the following:

  • Candle-lit bath listening to a podcast about empowerment and self-discovery
  • Taking a long, solo stroll out in nature
  • Journalling
  • Hitting the pool for a swim and sauna session
  • Turning off my phone, curling up with a great book, and indulging in a cup of decadent hot chocolate in my PJs 
  • Taking myself on a solo cinema trip and getting all the ice cream and popcorn I can handle

Not only do these rituals feel nurturing, but you’ll naturally increase your resilience and make removing toxic individuals easier.

4) Surround yourself with positive influences

By swapping out the negative influences in your life for positive ones, you’ll find people who support and uplift you instead of those who bring you down. 

Actively seek out mentors and friends who feed your soul with possibility and support you in finding ways to live your best life. 

Surrounding yourself with more like-minded people, who share your beliefs and values, will leave little room for toxicity, and it will naturally fall away.

5) Practice assertive communication

guilt free ways to remove toxic people from your life 1 10 guilt-free ways to remove toxic people from your life

If you find yourself being walked all over by problematic and toxic people, you’ll have to improve your assertive communication game. It’s easier said than done, especially if you tend to shrink away at the slightest thought of confrontation. 

The trick here is to reframe your thoughts. Clearly expressing your feelings and boundaries doesn’t have to be confrontational; it can actually feel like showing up with a whole lot of inner self-love. 

Try the following tips to ensure you are speaking from the heart and making yourself heard without letting things descend into an argument:

  • Try journaling precisely what you want to say to get really clear about it in your own mind
  • Ask for the space to share your thoughts and feelings without interruption
  • Remain respectful with your language
  • If you feel an argument brewing, remain calm and state that you want to engage but not fight

By focusing on effectively communicating your needs and expectations, you might find yourself having an eye-opening conversation about boundaries, feelings, and friendship.

6) Learn to say “no”

You may have heard a whole host of famous people saying, “No is a full sentence.”

And they are absolutely right. You never have to justify why something is a no for you. 

Toxic people often take advantage of others’ kindness and generosity without respecting that they might not truly feel comfortable offering what’s being taken. 

Learning to say “no” firmly and without guilt is essential.

Prioritize your own needs and practice declining requests or invitations that don’t align with your values or well-being. Feeling the power of your own “no” establishes healthy boundaries for yourself and the people around you. 

Plus, many toxic people don’t like to hear the word “no”; when you say it often enough, they’ll eventually remove themselves from your life.

7) Limit contact

You are the master of your own time. Learning this was one of the most powerful lessons on my journey to cutting toxic people out of my life. 

I used to engage in dramatic conversations, spending hours counseling one problematic friend after another and feeling emotionally drained and under-resourced. 

Reducing contact with toxic individuals is the best and most effective way to protect yourself from having the life sucked out of you by problematic people.

Take a moment to evaluate your relationships and gradually distance yourself from the ones that constantly demand your time with drama, unhealthy behavior, and negativity. 

Doing so will help you regain a sense of control and autonomy over your time and your life.

8) Seek professional support

The emotional challenges of dealing with toxic people are very real. Speaking to professionals such as therapists and counselors can offer valuable insights on navigating the often difficult situations that arise with toxic relationships. 

Seeking guidance is a valuable resource to learn coping strategies for dealing with the problematic people in your life — and how best to remove these toxic individuals without causing you any extra distress.

9) Focus on personal growth

The only thing you can ever really change in this world is yourself, and shifting your focus to personal growth is a powerful way to distance yourself from toxicity and all the drama that comes wrapped up in it. 

Read more books on self-development, go to talks about self-empowerment and rising above the challenges we experience in life, learn from those who have walked the path before, and come out stronger. 

By investing your time and energy in activities that enhance your skills, knowledge, and self-esteem, toxic people will naturally find themselves at odds with your newfound positivity and resilience.

10) Celebrate your progress

Cutting the cord on toxic relationships in our lives is something that needs to be celebrated and acknowledged for the mammoth task it truly is.

Take some time to reflect on your progress and treat yourself to something special as a reward for putting in the work. 

You may get yourself the shoes you’ve been thinking about, a new book, a ticket to a talk by someone you admire, or a spa day for you and a new friend who uplifts and inspires you. 

Remember that removing toxic individuals from your life is a courageous act of self-preservation.

Final thoughts:

Kicking toxicity to the curb is a challenging yet liberating experience. 

The journey isn’t linear and will be littered with many ups and downs along the way, but you can be sure of this – once your life is filled with the kind of love, respect, empowerment, and inspiration you deserve, there won’t be any space for toxic relationships anymore. 

You have the power to choose who gets to be in your life, and basking in a nurturing environment with positive influences will enhance your happiness and success — so you can sit back and watch as your life flourishes with motivation, inspiration, and fulfillment.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.