“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. This misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that the other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did.”

Jill Blakeway

Eliminate the toxic people from your life. They do nothing but spread negativity, strife, and discontent throughout the lives of those around them, all spawning from their own insecurities, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.

There is a reasonably simple way to identify a toxic person. Scroll through their Twitter or Facebook pages. Look at their Tweets. Do they spend an inordinate amount of time posting negative content? Do they seem to enjoy the unhappiness of others? Are their posts and Tweets riddled with insults, complaining, or veiled attempts at heightening themselves above others?

This is what toxic people do, and admittedly, attempting to fight this battle is completely and utterly useless. We all know that one person (or more, perhaps) who only seems to be speaking negatively about someone, critiquing someone else, or comparing themselves to others with insults and put-downs.

I encounter these people often, and in my context, they are quite easy to spot. With regard to how I am treated, a toxic person cannot get beyond the person I used to be; a genuine person appreciates (or at least understands) the person I am now.

I have eliminated the toxic people from my life, and I am so much happier as a result. Toxic people pollute their environment with bitterness, discontent, and negativity. A toxic person is a person who takes pleasure in the misfortunes of those they see as beneath them. And now that I no longer deal with these people, I feel as though I live in a much more positive context, and I am a happier person as a result.

Toxic people are the way they are because they writhe in their own buried worlds of discontent. Their lives are unfulfilling, leading them to chip away at the lives of those around them in a superficial attempt to level the playing field. Unfortunately, most toxic people are the way they are because they’ve been hurt somewhere along the road of life, and now they see no other remedy than to lash-out. And until they seek help for their wounds, nothing will change; they will consistently and continually reject others’ offers of assistance in their lives, and will sometimes perceive offers of help and generosity as insults or accusations of weakness.

There is one thing which absolutely angers toxic people: Grace. I may not be a hands-to-the-sky Christian, but I willfully subscribe to Christian theology. And Grace is one of those things which makes Christianity unique. Unconditional forgiveness is available to anyone who has done anything – including me. And yet, I have asserted this fact on several occasions, only to be promptly mocked and ridiculed by those who seek to only quantify me by my past transgressions, not my current state of faith, life, or well-being. Apparently, it is easier and much more dramatically satisfying to cast insults than to understand, forgive, or accept; those are three things a toxic person cannot (or will not) do.

In the 1983 classic film WarGames, a supercomputer attempts to teach itself strategy, first by playing Tic-Tac-Toe, then by playing Global Thermonuclear War.

In both instances of the computer playing against itself, trying to find a strategy for victory, it finds – every time – there is no winner. Every game of Tic-Tac-Toe ends in a stalemate; every game of Global Thermonuclear War ends in world-wide destruction. And when the computer (which the programmer has named “Joshua”) comes to the realization that the games cannot be won, it says, “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

This concept, in its essence, is exactly what it’s like to deal with toxic people. To them, it is a war, and there can be no winner. Never explain to a toxic person their misconceptions or errant assumptions; they except no reasoning and will only create a backlash. They love to gossip, they love to ridicule, they love to be the center of attention by tearing others down. Saying anything to a toxic person about his/her behavior will only make you a target. It is better to simply eliminate these people from your life. Because what toxic people do not realize is that genuine people can see what they are doing, and avoid them; the only people drawn to toxic people are other toxic people. These individuals have a tenancy toward turbulent relationships, rocky friendships, and difficult work environments.

And nothing is ever their fault. A toxic person will rarely (or never) stand up and say “I was wrong” or “It was my fault.” Any unsatisfactory outcome or result is typically the responsibility of someone else, and a toxic person is usually the first to lay the blame. And trying to reason with a toxic person on this issue (or any issue, for that matter) is another exercise in futility which will only lead to retribution.

It is best to just walk away from these toxic people (both figuratively and literally). A disagreement with a toxic person will only make you the target of their next vocal or online gossip diatribe. Be a genuine person. Be a positive person of integrity, responsibility, and encouragement. Genuine people are the people who make the lives of those around them better.

Someone once told me that my wife has a “very positive online presence” after seeing her Facebook page. Makes perfect sense. What would someone say about you, based on what is posted on your social media pages? Do you post positive content, or do you spend time online tearing others down? Because while you may not notice, I guarantee that others have. And if you know someone who is a toxic person, do yourself a favor and walk away. It’s not worth the headaches, the arguments, or the frustration. A toxic person rejects reasoning for the sake of conjecture, so don’t even bother trying.

“The only winning move is not to play.”