Removing toxic people from your life can be a chore for many reasons. Maybe they’ve been in your life since childhood. Maybe they’re your co-workers, so you can’t get away from them. Maybe they’re your family. Still, it’s incredibly important to protect your joy. In order to do that, you must surround yourself with only the best people — people who are kind, generous, honest and who reciprocate. It can be tough to weed out the bad folks, but here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that help ensure I surround myself with only the best people. 

Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. 

I can’t say this enough. You have to determine what your boundaries are for all the people in your life — romantic partners, family, friends and coworkers. I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again, and every time I realize how toxic someone is, I also notice that part of the reason their toxicity bled into my life was because I became super invested and intertwined in their drama. I did not set clear boundaries, and because of that I became too involved. Setting hard boundaries will save you (and them!) time, energy and joy.  

Have a low tolerance for BS

I can only handle so much of people’s games and manipulation. I am patient with people and give them several chances, but after a while of putting up with their BS, I’m done. I cut that person out. I’m at a point in my life when I do not have time for people who try to take advantage of me and act funny when I call them out for it.  

Fine-tune your BS detector

This was a learning curve for me because there are so many people who are charming and seem to be nice and giving. You know the phrase “if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck?” These are people who look like ducks, quack like ducks, but they’re really geese. Some people are manipulative and are really good at using charm to cover this toxic quality. I had to take a second look (and then a third and a fourth) at the people in my life to figure which people actually had my best interests at heart and which were toxic. 

Consider your why 

Why do you talk to this person? What joy do they bring you? Do they do anything for you? Meaning, do they return the love and investment you provide them? How so? If you find yourself getting tripped up on these questions, that may be someone to reconsider having in your life.

There’s this book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, where the author provides advice on how to tidy your house using one major question: does this item bring you joy? No? Then trash it or donate it. There is nothing wrong with taking this principle and applying it to the people in your life. If a person does not bring you joy and you are not required to talk to them due to work or familial obligations, cut them out. 

The people who are for you will show it 

This is another lesson I’ve had to learn a few times and I’m still learning it. The people who actually love and care about you will do so unconditionally. They will make time for you. They’ll be there for you when you’re struggling most and they’ll return the investment you give to them. People who are for you will want to be around you and they’ll show it. 

It can be difficult to figure out which relationships should be maintained and which should not. But with each relationship we have, whether they are co-workers, family or friends, we learn which people are and are not worth keeping around.