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Lessons From the Bible: How to Deal With Controlling and Toxic People and How to Avoid Becoming One Ourselves



Have you ever had someone make you feel small or insignificant? When you try to speak, are you silenced? Do you sometimes question your own sense of reality? If so, you may be dealing with a controlling or toxic person.


A controlling person is someone who attempts to maintain authority, control, and decision-making power over another individual or situation. Their behavior can include anything from directly telling the person what they can or cannot do to more subtle methods like gaslighting and guilt-tripping. The wants and needs of the victim are usually completely unheard, dismissed, and even disrespected.


Anyone can have controlling behavior and toxic tendencies, and the person does not have to be necessarily a “bad” person. Controlling people can be in all areas of your life. They are your friends, family, co-workers, romantic partner, boss, and even strangers. They are masterminds at manipulation, and you may not even realize you are being controlled and abused.


Why Do People Have Controlling Behavior?


Controlling people usually have suffered some sort of abuse or trauma, most likely from early childhood, and are insecure about themselves. They have a deep-rooted fear of the unknown. They do not trust themselves enough to face any challenge or endure any unknown situation. To regain a sense of security and safety, they exercise their will to control in any way they can. It's basically a defense mechanism they have developed over time.


Below are twenty-one signs of a controlling person:


1. They Criticize You All The Time

Controlling people will undermine the things you do and exaggerate your “flaws”. They will take little jabs at you in private or in front of other people. They will oftentimes use sarcasm and make it seem like they were just "kidding", then accuse you of being too "sensitive" when you object to their inappropriate behavior.


2. They Make You Believe Everything is Your Fault

You become the blame for everything, even when they are in the wrong. They will make themselves the victim and make you responsible for things beyond your control. You might hear, “You should have done it like this,” or “It's because you did this...,” during a conversation.


3. They Gaslight You

They will convince you that your sense of reality is false by planting little seeds of uncertainty in your mind. This is a manipulative tactic used to gain control. The constant self-doubt and self-questioning will slowly cause you to question your reality. The term “gaslighting” originated from a 1944 film called, Gaslight, in which a husband systematically brainwashed his wife to the point she believed she was literally going insane. Gaslighting is strategically done so the victim does not realize it is happening to them. The abuser continues to repeatedly disprove any concerns you might have to the point you don’t even recognize the reality of what is happening. They will continue to deny the way “you” remember things, even when evidence is presented to them. And, when feeling cornered, they will somehow flip the tables on you, and accuse you of starting an argument.


4. They Intimidate You

A controlling person will act superior and try to undermine your reputation by devaluing you. They will interrupt you during a meeting or in the middle of a sentence to voice their own opinion. If you try to speak up, they will overtalk you in a condescending way or may say, “Stop interrupting me. You never let me speak?” but will never allow you to speak in return. A boss may also talk down to you in front of your co-workers and make subtle remarks or inappropriate jokes. They might also hover over you and micromanage you, even going as far to telling you when you can or cannot use the bathroom.


5. They Are Moody

They have drastic mood swings. One minute they are spoiling you with gifts, dinner, and praise, and the next, they are acting like a bully. You start to feel anxiety and dread whenever you are around them. You walk on eggshells and catch yourself always apologizing, even for the most trivial of things.


6. They Refuse to Take Blame

We all, as human beings, may find it difficult to apologize when we are in the wrong. But a controlling person is “never” wrong and is incapable of admitting fault or giving a sincere apology. Even when the evidence is stacked high against them, they will still blame you for the situation. It could be something as small as distracting them when they make an error.


7. They Lie

Controlling people lie so they can control your reality. They will distort the truth or flat out lie about their behavior so you will second-guess everything. They will start a fight on purpose and accuse you of causing it so you will think twice before bringing up any concerns to them again. Before long, you begin to question your memory and become uncertain of the most simplest of things.


8. They Stonewall You

A controlling person will shut down a conversation and close themselves off by putting up a “wall”. Instead of facing the issue, they will be completely unresponsive and unavailable to you. They will dismiss you, ignore your text messages, and refuse your phone calls by acting busy. When you try to address the problem, they will ignore you. By doing this, you become “invisible” and never heard. Sometimes the abuser will stonewall you for days on end as a way of punishment so that you will not repeat the “offense” again. This line of abuse will leave you feeling “boxed in” and completely helpless. It is also a way used to "condition" you. The abuser believes that if they "punish" you long enough by not speaking to you, you will welcome them back with open arms out of "missing them".


9. They Take Charge of the Finances

If you are married or in a relationship with a controlling person, they will insist on handling all the money. They may suggest that they are better at it than you or accuse you of overspending (even though they may carelessly overspend all the time). By controlling all access to the money, they control you.


10. They Don’t Take ‘no’ for an Answer

A controlling person usually will not accept your healthy boundaries and will become enraged when told "no". They will either try and convince you or pressure you to change your mind, or they will punish you some other way such as stonewalling.


11. They Will try to Change You

Controlling people will try to shape you to fit their own needs by pressuring you to make changes to your appearance, dress, or even the way you act. They may criticize your weight, even if you are healthy and fit. You start to feel like a “yo-yo” as you constantly go back and forth trying to please them. This is a control tactic used to devalue and deplete you of your self-esteem.


12. They Isolate You

A controlling person will demand your attention all the time and will isolate you from your family and friends. They want you all to themselves so they can maintain control. Sometimes their demand for attention is not voiced but expressed through eye glares, rigid body language, and stone faces.


13. They Cause You to Lose Your Sense of Self

As the abuser methodically continues to gaslight you over a long period of time, you begin to lose your self-confidence and start to become a different person, a shadow and shell of your former self. Your whole sense of being and reality become that of the abuser.


14. Words Versus Actions

A controlling person will continuously talk about their concern for you, but their actions will not reflect their words.


15. Love and Flattery

An abuser will tear you down, build you back up, and tear you right back down again. This abusive pattern becomes reality for the victim (you) and their constant praise is used to build you back up to convince you that the abuser cannot be all that bad. This leaves you in a constant state of confusion and anxiety. You might also begin to act "timid" whenever you around the abuser.


16. Confusion

A controlling person will constantly confuse you. As a result, you become desperate for clarity. As this abusive cycle continues, the abuser’s power increases over you.


17. Projecting

A controlling person will project their actions on their victim. For example, if the abuser is a cheater and a liar, they will accuse you of being the same. If they secretly feel "stupid" then they will call you "stupid" also. You will constantly feel the need to defend yourself for things you have not done, or do not feel about yourself.


18. They Will Accuse You of Being Crazy

The abuser already knows his victim is searching for clarity and questioning their sanity. They will use this to their advantage and call you “crazy” knowing you will believe it. They will also tell other people you are crazy so when or if you seek out their help (or decide to leave the abuser), they will not believe you.

19. They Keep Record

They keep a record of things you did wrong so they can make it seem like you are the problem, and not them. This takes away your self-worth and self-esteem which is what the abuser wants so they can gain more control.


20. They like drama

If you have good news to share such as you received a promotion, a controlling and toxic person will change the subject and make the conversation all about them to regain your attention. They will also sabotage your relationships with others by spreading false information (smearing) about you through gossip.


21. They Make Threats to Harm Themselves

In extreme cases, a controlling person will go as far to make threats to harm themselves. I have personally experienced this myself. They will threaten suicide or will even physically cause harm to themselves in front of you. The whole point of this is to make you feel guilty or responsible for their wrong behavior. Please know, this is a scare tactic and a way to control you. You are never responsible for someone wanting to take their own life. That decision belongs to them. In this situation it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible for the individual in question. I had to call the suicide hotline for advice and eventually I had my abuser committed to a mental hospital for my safety.



What the Holy Bible Says About Controlling and Toxic People


"The Lord has established His throne in the Heavens, and His Kingdom rules over all." ~ Psalm 103:19.


The Bible offers us much guidance on how to handle controlling and toxic people and it also instructs us on how to avoid becoming one ourselves. A controlling person can seem like they hold a strong religious position, but in reality they lack a genuine connection to God. This means they may be using their religious standing in an attempt to control others. By being aware of the toxic traits used by controlling people, we can better protectect ourselves and our families from their destructive influence.


The Bible teaches us that God is the only one who has control over everything, which means He has the ultimate power and authority. This power can be seen in many aspects of scripture: His ability to control events, human actions, and even nature itself. Even in the book of Job, God was always in complete control over the devil when he attacked His humble and faithful servant Job.


Bible verses on controlling and toxic people:


  • Proverbs 6:16-19 ~ "There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness witness who breathes out lies, and one who sow discord among brothers."

  • 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ~ "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

  • Proverbs 25:26 ~ "Make no with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare."

  • Matthew 7:15-16 ~ "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits."


Bible Verses on Dealing With a Toxic and Controlling Person


The Bible gives us guidance on how to handle toxic people. One good way is by setting healthy boundaries and reducing your exposure to harmful behavior. It is extremely important to prioritize your own well-being and safety in any relationship.


As believers in Jesus Christ, we should all practice forgiveness and pray for those who have hurt us. This means we should let go of any negative feelings we might have, but it does not mean we have to accept their wrong and toxic behavior. In doing this, we can keep a healthy Christian perspective and prevent the negative behavior from harming our bodies, minds, spirits, and emotions. We can protect our entire well-being.


In addition, we should take all our problems to God through Christ Jesus when dealing with toxic and controlling people through a constant state of prayer and by having a strong sense of unwavering faith in knowing that He will guide, direct, and protect us from anyone or anything harming us.


  • Proverbs 14:7 ~ "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge."

  • Proverbs 13:20 ~ "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."

  • Proverbs 19:27 ~ "Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge."

  • Proverbs 21:24 ~ "'Scoffer'(mocker) is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride."

  • Proverbs 9:7-8 ~ "Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you."


Some Additonal Things You can Do



· Communicate Using "I" Statements – If you decide you want to save your relationship with a controlling person, let them know how their behavior affects you. Sometimes the controlling person is not aware of how they are hurting you. However, when you do speak with them, it is important to communicate with the use of ‘I’ statements such as, “I feel hurt when you lie to me or accuse me of untruthful things”. This not only gives you back your own power to have control over yourself, but it makes the controlling person feel less defensive.


· Set Healthy Boundaries – As the Holy Scriptures state, we should set healthy boundaries when we are dealing with a controlling and toxic person. For example, we might say, "When you yell at me, I feel unsafe. If you want to continue this conversation with me, please lower your voice, otherwise I am going to stop talking and walk away." See how the person responds to your request and if they are unwilling to respect your boundaries, reinforce your demand with ACTION. Remember, you teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce. If you feel the person is unwilling to change their toxic behavior with you no matter what you do, or the relationship is turning abusive or violent, it may be time to leave and end the relationship, not matter who it is: friend, sibling, or sometimes even with a parent.


· Never Argue With Them – Controlling people are good at taking over a conversation and usually will refuse to accept any responsibility in their behavior. Never battle with them because they will turn the tables on you to gain control. Remember, they are very good at manipulation, and you do not want to be pulled down to their level. Firmly state your case and politely end the conversation if you feel this is happening.


Remember, God is LOVE. And, when someone attempts to control you, it is never coming from a place of love, but from a place of fear. The abuser is usually suffering inside and may not even be aware of his or her controlling behavior. However, this does not excuse their abuse towards you and it is equally important to know that manipulation, in any form, and controlling behavior are toxic and can never lead to a healthy, open, and honest relationship. Change must take place.


How to Avoid Toxic Behavior Within Ourselves


As human beings, we are all capable of displaying toxic behavior during various times in our lives. Therefore, it is imperative for us to recognize, acknowledge, and address any toxic traits within ourselves.


According to the Holy Bible, it is crucial to engage in daily self-reflection and to seek wisdom from God to combat any and all negative traits.


Through a deeper and more personal relationship with God the Father, we can begin to transform our minds and hearts for the better. This will require obedience to God's word and personal instruction, humility, faith, and the willingness to acknowledge our own shortcomings coupled with a dedication and commitment towards change.

Related Bible Verses to Overcoming toxic Behavior


  • Ephesians 4:31-32 ~ "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

  • Colossians 3:8 ~ "But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth."

  • Proverbs 12:18 ~ "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

  • James 3:8-10 ~ "But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

  • Proverbs 15:1 ~ "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."


The Bible also encourages us to pursue positive behaviors that promote healthy relationships and personal growth as we work on overcoming our negative traits. These behaviors include love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfuness, and self-control.


By working on ourselves and devloping these positive qualities, we can improve our relationship with God and the people around us and live a happier and more fulfilling life.


We should be actively engaged in studing the Holy Scriptures, praying daily, and connecting to other believers. As we become more familiar with the teachings of the Holy Bible and with what God desires for us, we will become better equipped to replace any toxic behaviors with more positive ones that are aligned with God and His will.


  • Galatians 5:22-23 ~ "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: against such things, there is no law."

  • Philippians 4:8 ~ "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ~ "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

  • Romans 12:17-18 ~ "Repay no one evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peacefully with all."

  • James 1:19-20 ~ "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."


Having Faith in God While Dealing with Toxic People


It is important for us to have full faith in God while dealing with controlling people and while we are also learning to how to overcome our own toxic traits. We must trust in God's guidance and in His strength at all times. In order for us to do this, we must surrender our situations and relationships to Him and trust in Him to provide the wisdom, discernment, and guidance that is needed.


Remember, God is always in full control, even in the most difficult situations. When we trust in Him and seek his guidance, we can successfully deal with toxic and controlling people and become the people He called us to be.


  • Psalm 27:1-3 ~ The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident."

  • Psalm 37:5 ~ "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will direct your paths."

  • Isaiah 41:10 ~ "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

  • Psalm 34:17-18 ~"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."


Final Thoughts


Toxic and controlling people can be challenging to deal with, but it is important for our spiritual development, calling, and journey. In order for us to overcome toxic traits, we must first recognize the characteristics of these individuals- they have a similar pattern. It is crucial that we set boundaries to protect ourselves and to avoid being negatively impactged by their destructive behavior.


We should pursue Godly characteristics, such as love and kindness towards others even if they are toxic towards us. Trusting in God duirng these difficult times is also imperative as He can provide us with the guidance and the strength to naviaget these challenging relationships with wisdom, integrity, and grace.


As we become closer to God, we will become more able to identiyfy toxic behaviors within ourselves and take steps towards eliminating them. This will allow us to cultivate healtheir relationshiops with those around us, including those who may have previously been toxic towards us.


May you continue on your spiritual journey with perseverance in overcoming toxicity and fostering healthier relationships that honor God.



Author Bio

Isabella Boston

Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She has several years of experience in Medical Content Writing, Copywriting, and Marketing. Isabella is a Christian survivor of domestic abuse, both physical and mental, and is dedicated to spreading awareness on the topic.





Additional References


[i] Lamothe, C. (2019, November 22). Controlling people: 12 signs to watch for. Healthline. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/controlling-people#blaming-you [ii] Lebow, H. I. (2021, June 10). Are you in a controlling relationship? here's how to know. Psych Central. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/signs-controlling-partner-relationship#signs-of-a-controlling-partner [iii] WebMD. (n.d.). Controlling behavior: 7 signs to look for. WebMD. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-controlling-behavior

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