04/10/2012 06:37 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2012

Toxic Side Effects... And How to Get Rid of Them

In the last week, I have come to the realization that I am still having side effects from breast cancer treatment. The Silver Lining is that these side effects no longer require days lingering over or near the porcelain potty. Rather, these side effects are psychic. The not-so-Silver Lining is that psychic toxicity is still... toxicity.

Lately, I have had some gnarly exposure to some pernicious people and circumstances. Sad, but true. I need not go into detail, because I know that (unfortunately) you can only imagine. Suffice to say, these are the people who are always a victim and never at fault, consistently negative, maintain no boundaries, and have a tragedy/drama everyday. See what I mean? You know the people.

The great revelation is that just as I was "allergic" to the toxicity of chemo, I am having similar reactions to deleterious behavior in people.

So, what to do? First of all, recognize it. Identify the source of negativity. Then, do something about it!

I recognize that this is easier said than done. Prior to breast cancer, I tolerated a whole lot of S**T. All too often, I thought, "Well, he is just insecure..." or "She is having a bad day..." The truth of the matter is that I knew better at the time, and just buried my feelings.

Now, however, there is no burying of these feelings. I respond to poisonous circumstances viscerally, most often by getting a big fat headache and chemo-esque nausea.

I now see this inability to bury my emotions as a Silver Lining. Certainly, there are difficult circumstances in life with which we all must contend. Duh. That's just part of life. What I now know for sure is that I have lost all capacity to tolerate pestilential people or situations.

Here is how I am handling my current situation:

  1. Spend less time with them because the less time you spend with them, the less control they have on you. It's just how this movie rolls.
  2. Detach emotionally. Do not engage. Their drama is not your drama. Don't take it on.
  3. Set boundaries. Simply say, "No" to the text that says "Call me" (without a please, by the way).
  4. Don't try to fix them. This is a hopeless and exhausting endeavor.They will find a way to be the victim again and manipulate their way back into control of the relationship. People who don't want to change, won't.
  5. Don't cut them off all of a sudden, because it will only exacerbate the situation and that just won't be pretty.

Do you have any toxic people in your life? I sure hope not, but if you do, how do you handle them?

"I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum." -- Frances Willard

For more by Hollye Harrington Jacobs, click here.

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