Empaths and Letting Go of Toxic People


Before we can really help or be of service to others we have to find balance within and, that means taking care of our physical and mental needs and stop exposing ourselves to that which is toxic, in the form of food, substances and people.

Most Empaths will have at least one toxic person in their life that can cause a wave of intense, negative emotions to rain down, just by being in their presence. These people, who may be a friend or family member, seem to spew venom when they talk which can be felt in any of the main energy centers (chakras), especially on the front torso, in the form of an ache or pain.

To some, it can feel like hot lava is being poured over the solar plexus area (seat of emotions) with an intense burning sensation. It is normal for toxic people to talk negatively about everyone and everything, which can drain the life force within a matter of minutes. 

Even after trying every trick in the book for self-protection, nothing seems to stop their venom seeping into the Empath’s physical and energetic body.

Typical sensations which can be felt by being with toxic people:


  • Anger or feelings of bitterness embodying you: This can last for the duration of being in their presence and up to 10 days after. Depending on the negative traits they carry will depend on what you feel.

  • Fatigue: Struggling to keep your eyes open, especially if they are venting.

  • Being out of sorts: A range of strange feelings wash over you, from being spaced out, to nausea.

  • Negative talk: Finding yourself talking negatively of others, even though it is not a typical trait of yours. Overly toxic people can easily lure the unvigilant Empath into their judgmental behavior.

  • Apathy: Losing all previous zest and optimism.

A toxic friend will probably be a family member or lifelong friend and because of this you have a natural fear of letting them go, not least because you probably love them. Chances are, you have already tried helping them by sharing what has helped you, in dealing with the rigors of life. Sadly, they do not want to hear or listen to what you have to say about any kind of self-help, preferring to offload their negative rants on you. You may have also tried getting them to see situations from different perspectives, hoping they may recognize that by changing their attitude and outlook, it would change their whole life…to no avail.

The Empath would never want to hurt or cause unnecessary pain to others and it is for this reason, many keep in their lives, those who cause much emotional pain. Yet, one must always put the emotional health of self-first. If you know a food or substance made you violently ill or caused you to feel depressed, you would avoid it; the same should be applied to those who cause emotional turmoil. We have a responsibility to keep our bodies and mental wellbeing strong and healthy, and if another is causing us damage (all stress will eventually lead to illness), it is our duty to either confront the said person or remove them from our life.

I am not talking about having our ego’s dented by another’s random disrespect. We all have people who offend, hurt or make us angry, by their lack of understanding, at some point. And we in turn will no doubt do the same to others. This issue is about those toxic friends or family members who repetitively bring you down and do immense energetic damage. It can be so intense that you know exactly when they are having negative thoughts about you.

For the Empath, navigating friendships can be a grey area, as most people will invoke an emotional response within. It is often the kindest of people in whom we feel the most pain. Yet feeling another’s pain is nothing compared to what some can make us endure. The point will come in toxic friendships when one has to decide if it is causing more harm than good.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help evaluate your friend/relationship and hopefully help you see if it is a healthy one:

  • Am I taking anything from this friend/relationship?

  • Does spending time with him/her make me happy?

  • Do I dread being in his/her presence?

  • When was the last time I enjoyed being in his/her company?

  • Do we have any of the same interests?

  • Is it a one-sided friendship with me fitting in with his/her needs?

  • Does this relationship affect my emotional health?

  • Do I feel ill, emotionally drained or intense negative emotions after being with him/her?

  • Am I being used as an emotional dumping ground?

  • Does he/she have a lot of negative thoughts or anger towards me?

  • Am I learning anything from spending time with him/her?

  • Is being in this relationship making me grow spiritually, emotionally or other?

  • Is this relationship beneficial to either of us?

  • Has he/she become dependent upon me?

  • What are my real reasons for staying in this relationship?

From my experience there are many reasons why we encounter toxic people in our lives. One of the most common being the mirror effect. Certain experiences or encounters with others act as a mirror and show us weaknesses or issues we need to resolve within ourselves.

You may already have seen a pattern of behavior in family and friends towards you. Examples are: others being either overly needy of you or not being there for you when you need them. If you have noticed any such behavior being a trend in others actions towards you, it is most definitely not happening by chance and will be an area where, when questioned and understood, a wealth of knowledge will be attained.

Another reason we may endure difficult relationships with others could be we are there to highlight flaws or issues within their life story that they need to work on and learn from. We all learn from experiences and situations presented to us in life. Yet if the same emotional scenarios keep playing out with another and all that comes from it, is you being left with their emotional baggage to clear up, that they have refused to take responsibility for, no one is gaining, learning or growing from the situation and it may be time to cut the cord.

Empaths take on and feel others emotions and energetic attributes. Some people show up in our lives to press our buttons or to make us aware of patterns of behavior in self that needs addressing, which in turn helps us make the necessary changes to ourselves. Beyond that, we have to see the lesson we may need to learn from a relationship is about having the courage to let it go. It can be in loss that we and others learn and grow the most.

We can learn a lot from bad people and bad experiences, but we don’t need to keep on experiencing other people’s negative emotions. It is not helping them or us. Once we have learnt from an experience, we don’t need to re-learn it over and over.

Our repetitive painful emotions can and will turn into illness, if we continue to let them occur. If another continuously leaves us with a painful energetic imprint, simply by being in their presence, it is time to let them go. This is not about hating or turning against them, we can be grateful to them for all they have taught and shown us in life and in the long-run, will benefit both parties.

Empaths can powerfully project their emotions out and this includes that which we take on from others. We are each responsible for the energy we put out into the world in the form of words, emotions and thoughts. If being in another’s presence is causing our emotions to fluctuate so profusely that we emit negative vibrations, it is up to us to stop being in said person’s presence, until the time when we know they cannot or will not affect us.

About the Author: Diane at Just Be is an Empath and has spent the past 15 to 20 years ('since waking up') researching and learning ways to make life as an Empath easier. She has discovered many ways for the Empath to stay healthy and in balance and shares her findings on her blog. Articles written by Just Be were published with the author's explicit written permission.