We attend the “Toxic People” Seminar Sponsored By The Institute For Brain Potential (A Review)

Jim and I arrived late for the toxic people seminar. I am sure Dr. Joseph W. Shannon (the presenter) was not shocked by our apparent passive aggressiveness (or was it just that we are really bad at time management and following directions?). He didn’t bat an eyelash when we snuck in through the back door and claimed two vacant seats somewhere in the middle and toward the back. In fact, Dr. Shannon, was an amazing presenter. He was funny, quick witted, and (of course) an expert in his field. We have been to three continuing education classes sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential and have not been disappointed once. The speakers are excellent, the material is easy to understand (even for regular non psychology folks) and there is always an abundance of useful information and strategies that people can implement into their everyday lives.


This seminar was about toxic people. Dr. Shannon presented information on toxic behaviors (creating psychodramas, aggressive energy, etc. ), personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Sociopathic, etc.), and, most importantly, strategies on how to detoxify from the encounters we have with toxic people. I want to share some of these strategies with you here because we have all experienced toxic behavior in our lives. It’s my hope that some of you will be able to benefit from this information as much as I have.


The best, number one thing you can do to stay sane in an insane world is to surround yourself with nurturing, supportive, and safe people. Yes, friends. Good friends are the best way to keep toxic people from stressing you out. Actually, any activity that nurtures you is an excellent way to counteract stress, according to Dr. Shannon. Exercise, art, gardening (these are a few of my favorite things, well, minus the exercise) might help you find some relief. Apparently, my usual methods of coping with stress like eating excess chocolate, ruminating, complaining loudly, and crying to my mother weren’t exactly at the top of the list for best practices. Although, maybe crying to my mom was kind of an acceptable coping strategy because she is certainly one of my best friends, so, looking at the positive, I did have a few things going for me even before attending the seminar.

Boundaries are important, keeping them even more important. Dr. Shannon said, “Promise less than you can give and give more than you promise.” I think this may become my new life mantra. He talked a lot about having expectations that were just too high for both ourselves and for others. When our expectations are chronically too high we end up spending our lives feeling disappointed. This made sense to me because I tend to expect way too much out of myself and out of others. How many times have I expected to keep my house spotless, the dogs groomed, play with Tiny-Small, grow a garden, paint and sell paintings, write a blog, make dinner, bake cookies…blah, blah, blah and all in one day? Sometimes having an expert say good enough is actually good enough gives you the permission to be a little more kind to yourself and more empathic to others. Besides, we shouldn’t be determining what another person is capable of. I mean, how would we even know? It’s a good idea to promise less than you think can because if you only do what you promise people are happy and if you do more than you promise people are even happier. No more disappointment! What a great way to keep everyone smiling.

Most of the seminar was really about how not to become a toxic person. I know, you would never consider being toxic, but it was a terrific approach because we can only change our own behavior, right? Also, sometimes, the stress of dealing with toxicity can turn a healthy, happy person into a super tired, grouchy human that lashes out at unsuspecting and innocent people. This is why it is so important to take care of our own stress levels. We don’t want to pass this toxic stuff onto other people or our loving family members. In fact, it’s much better to spread positive energy around. Smile at people, help people, do kind things and put that out into the universe instead. What goes around comes around, so, might as well make it a good thing, right?


We all encounter toxic people. Sometimes it’s through work (the boss that takes credit for what you do right and blames you for what he or she does wrong) and sometimes it’s through family (the you’re in the will you’re out of the will types). According to Dr. Shannon, the best thing for your health is to get out of these toxic situations all together. Get a new job! Maybe, even get a new family. In all seriousness, sometimes we can’t remove these people from our lives so we have to do our best to live with them and create some type of stress reducing harmony. Try not to push their buttons (if you can figure out what their buttons are), maintain clear and set boundaries, and learn to communicate with them as efficiently as possible. In this seminar, the D.E.S.K. model for communication was endorsed:

D. Describe the behavior

E. Express the feelings you have about the behavior using “I” statements.

S. State the need or want that you have and a request for a change in the behavior.

K. Know you may not get the change you request.

From experience, I can tell you it takes some practice to communicate in this way, but it is well worth learning to do. Of course, there will be times when you are too tired, hungry, sick (fill in the blank) to control yourself or your tongue. There will be days when you push all of the toxic person’s buttons and they will push yours (yep, they are unnaturally skilled at pushing your buttons and no, it’s not just your imagination) because you are stressed out and lack the energy to use your coping skills. It’s not always easy to take the high road and it’s not always easy to be healthy. Just like exercise, it takes some effort to nurture your mental health as well as your body.

In conclusion, this seminar was excellent. I hope you get a chance to attend it. I also challenge you to take better care of your health. It’s much like when the the flight attendant instructs you to put your own oxygen mask on first before you attempt to take care of the person next to you. If we don’t take care of ourselves we won’t be in the proper space (physically or mentally) to take care of anyone else. This is easier said than done, but like most good things it takes some hard work and effort. It’s worth it though because to put it as bluntly as possible: Stress kills. Stroke, heart attack, auto immune diseases are often the result of too much stress. Don’t be a victim (another toxic personality) and start managing your stress. Start today!


Want to know more about personality disorders and how to deal with toxic people? Check out these books on Amazon. I’ve bought them and found them to be both informative  and helpful.


*The author is not affiliated with the Institute For Brain Potential or Dr. Shannon and was in no way compensated for writing this review or endorsing this seminar. This blog is an Amazon affiliate.


Want to read about how I ended up attending this seminar? Read about it here: Toxic People: A Seminar I Might Be Starring In.

12 thoughts on “We attend the “Toxic People” Seminar Sponsored By The Institute For Brain Potential (A Review)”

  1. You sound a lot like me. I tried juggling a job, three kids and art. Didn’t work until much later. Now I am a grandma and doing my painting and art. Even so , I do expect to do so much more than I really can! Learning to slow it down and enjoy the process….

  2. Appreciate the review. Misses the conference. Am trying to deal with the toxic behavior of my husband. Helped to have the strategies to relieve stress and the communication high lights. Thanks for posting!

    1. There are some great books Dr. Shannon recommended that have helped me too. If you have any questions I will be happy to direct you to some information. Hang in there! It’s especially hard when you live with people.

      1. I’m not witty or charming, yet, would appreciate a list of the books Dr. Shannon recommended you read to further your understanding of toxic people.
        I’m going to register for the seminar on developing positive emotional health. I’m a codependent that needs an attitude adjustment. Thank you for sharing your insight!

        1. Cathleen, thank you for commenting. I will have to dig around for that list. It’s been filed away, but I can give you the titles of the books I did purchase right now. I’ll have to get back to you with the rest.

          the sociopath next door by Martha Stout, ph.d

          Fatal Flaws by Stuart C. Yudofsky, M.D.

          High Conflict People by Billy Eddy LCSW, ESQ.

          When I find the entire list, would it be OK for me to email you with it?

  3. Great post! I attended this same seminar given by Dr. Shannon . I thought he was a great lecturer, funny, quick witted as you said. The information in the lecture was very valuable to me in dealing with toxic people at work. I actually want to take the class again! Refresher …

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