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Four Characteristics of a Toxic Person and How to Deal With It

Four Characteristics of Toxic People

If we have learned anything from the year of the lockdown – 2020 – it is this: Toxic people are everywhere! They are in relationships. They are in family. They are in our social networks. And, if you are not careful, they can be in you!

While it did not take a pandemic to introduce us to the concept of toxicity in people, the pandemic introduced more opportunity to see the unsavory in so many family and friends and loved ones.

What is a toxic person? That may be harder to describe than to define. They are like the walking dead. Author and therapist Dr. Nancy Irwin has characterized a person with toxic qualities as anyone who is abusive, unsupportive, or unhealthy emotionally – someone who brings you down more than up.

The Holy Bible refers to Satan as the ‘accuser of the brethren’ (Revelation 12:10). That is an apt descriptor of a toxic individual. They are accusers; thus, they rarely, if ever, have anything good to offer because they are always looking for the wrong in others.

How do we deal with toxic people, especially moving into a New Year as we pursue new levels of greatness?

Here is the pivot: Toxic relationships can kill you. Be aware of these traits (among many) in toxic people.


Toxic people are insecure. They may have been victimized at some point in their lives or they may have faced an insurmountable challenge from which they lost confidence. Whatever the reason, they do not really believe in themselves anymore. They have reached a point at which they longer see the need to grow. As such, toxic people become highly argumentative and attempt to assassinate your character.

People of the Lie

Toxic people are ‘people of the lie’. People of the Lie was a book written by the late psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck in 1988. Peck advocated that ‘evil’ should be classified as a mental disease. He was a pioneer in that regard. We now know more about human evil than in Peck’s day to realize that toxicity can morph into evil.

Toxic people are pathological liars; they have built a system of prevarication from which there is no escape. The only recourse is absorbing others into their system of fabrication.

Create the problem. Shift the Blame.

Toxic people create the problem and then shift the blame. Because they are of the ‘lie’, toxic people must always obfuscate in a desperate attempt to avoid blame. Once blame has been placed at their feet, toxic people are traumatized. They must always pin the conflict, chaos, and pandemonium on someone else.

Stay Out of the Light

Toxic people do not like the light being shone on them. When that happens, toxic people are quick to deflect. When the light comes on, they scatter, like roaches. They immediately become defensive and highly argumentative.

So, what to do about toxic people? Pray for them. Be careful – be incredibly careful – that you do not become toxic yourself. Adapt the current protocols in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic when it comes to dealing with these people: Watch your spacing. Wear your spiritual protective gear. “Wash your hands” of toxic people. Chances are they were toxic when you met them. Understand the nature of the spiritual warfare involved.

Some battles only God can fight.

The Holy Bible is full of warnings about wicked people but perhaps the most ominous is a clause in the book of Proverbs in describing the folly of walking with the treacherous in spirit: “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong, they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble” (Proverbs 4:14)

Toxic relationships can kill you.

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