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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Toxic People
(Six Characters You Probably Know, But Shouldn't)

I am often amazed at how fitness freaks go to great lengths to achieve and maintain optimal health. These folks avoid pork, drink in moderation, stay away from red meat, stay in the gym five days a week, pop multivitamins, and eat from the major food groups daily! They truly embrace the concept of the body being a “temple.” Yet, they forget to factor in the damaging effects of the company they keep---particularly toxic people.


For the record, toxic people can come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

These culprits can be co-workers, neighbors, family members or friends. The one thing they have in common is their ability to stress you out and steal your peace!

Toxic People, (as the name implies), are kinda’ like spiritual parasites that feed off of others’ happiness and suck up their joy. They can find something bad to say about a child’s innocence, the beauty of a sunrise, God’s goodness, or Martha Stewart’s garden! They’re usually at the core of family controversy, office gossip, or any general drama. They lack humor and hope, and often are bitter and “baggage filled.”

To make matters worse, these people are totally clueless as to why their social calendars are often empty, their relationships never quite get off the ground, and people try to avoid them like the plague.

Take for instance, a girl I know named “Bertha Busybody”. Bertha has had a few bad breaks when it comes to men and romance. She’s unmarried, unhappy, and full of anger and advice. It never dawns on her that if she had all the “right” answers, her life would be much better!

In the course of a typical conversation, she’ll shatter your dreams, criticize your new love interest, and argue about everything from Anatomy to Zoology! The girl’s got issues! No doubt about it, Toxic People are stressful and draining. And stress has a wide range of damaging physical and psychological effects which include the following:

» High blood pressure

» Migraines

» Muscle tension

» Over eating

» Hair loss

» Insomnia

» A compromised immune system

So if you resolved this year to improve your health, here’s a helpful tip: avoid Toxic People and the havoc they wreak. Here’s a lineup of who they are and how to recognize them.

1. Gertrude the Gossip
Gertrude always knows somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who knows about the office affair your boyfriend’s been havin’, your next door neighbor’s boob job, or the recent dirt on the P.T.A. moms. She never has anything of real value to share. And once the ramblings have ended, you’ve got an “Excedrin day” guaranteed!

2. Know it all Nellie
Arguing with her is pointless. By virtue of her college degrees and world travel, she is an “educated fool”. She takes big stands on small issues, and feels intellectually superior to everyone. Her way of thinking is always the best.

3. Debbie Downer
Have you ever watched Saturday Night Live? Well, Debbie Downer is a hilarious character that has the knack for spreading doom and gloom wherever she goes! She is the epitome of negativity, and most of us know at least one real life person who deserves this title.

4. Lying Laura
The truth just ain’t in her. She fabricates things to make her life and herself seem more important. She lies on others because she’s envious and pitiful. She’s entertaining to be around-- if you’re into fiction.

5. Angry Anthony
Tony’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of a boulder! He’s always the victim of some injustice or slight. He hates liberals, animals, “women libbers,” and anybody who gets in his way. He’s like a time bomb waiting to explode.

6. Katie the Boss Lady
She’s a witch on wheels, and unfortunately, the person who signs your checks. Her power lies in making you feel little. She rides your “azz” just because she can. She’s rude and unrelenting. And you can’t figure out whether she wants to be a woman or a man! Every day in her presence is like a prison sentence.

Contact with the above personality types can be costly. Toxic People take their toll. Limit your exposure. In small doses they’re tolerable, but one thing’s for certain…. Like fast foods and clogged arteries, eventually they’ll do you in!

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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