sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Have You Swallowed a Poison Pill in Your Relationships?

By Marie Burns November 09, 2022 Mindset

Have you ever been so angry or upset with someone and then realized that they either had no idea what upset you OR they acted like they either didn’t care or didn’t notice that you were upset?

Holding onto that extreme negativity and resentment and feeling like your blood is just boiling triggers cortisol, the stress hormone, to pulse through your veins. It’s a “killing you slowly” chemical released in your body as a natural response to stress.

Your Choice

I know it sounds so easy, but we DO have a choice with our mindset in those situations. We can stay furious, hurt, and stressed out or decide to do what we can control, which is our reaction and the way we choose to move forward. If we choose to hold onto the gut-wrenching feeling, that choice is no different than if we swallowed a poison pill but expected the other person to die from it!

The older and wiser we get, the more we realize that our mind is THE ONLY THING in life we can control. As we come to the end of another year, the holidays are nearing, maybe we can pause to take a moment to reflect on that fact.

Healthy Choices

My professional life has always been about helping people make healthy choices in relation to our mind, body, or money. Afterall, the more we take care of our mind and body, the less we have to worry about running out of money (since good health costs less), right?

So when I recently read a colleague’s blog, retired CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and author Beverly Bowers, I totally related to her message: your mindset is a choice so choose peace.

Whether our current stress is related to an estranged adult child, a divorce, a difficult person in a work or other setting, or conflict of some kind in another relationship, Beverly’s reminder is spot on: we all need each other so taking full responsibility for living in relationships with respect and forgiveness can help us to choose peace.

Conflict Resolutions

She shares some proven principles that bring resolution to conflict, here are just a few:

Try to Understand the Context from a Factual Perspective

Choosing to review the facts of your situation almost from a third-party perspective can actually help take the emotion out of it.

I help facilitate Financial Peace University at my church and one of their suggestions in helping people to stick with a budget is to use your own name instead of “I” or “me” when making decisions. For example, “Does Marie need that new pair of shoes?” or “Is that a realistic grocery budget for Marie?”

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

After a difficult conversation, and you are replaying it over and over in your head anyway, can you replay it from the other person’s perspective? Could what you said have been taken a different way than you intended it? Can you see why there may have been hurt or defensiveness that was experienced on the other side of your words?

Focus on Yourself and What You Have Control Over

Do you still pro-actively reach out to that person with positivity?Are you moving forward after forgiveness has been given or received? Have you chosen to live out your love for that person in your documents, if applicable?

Swallow It or Spit It Out

We all have poison pills in our lives. We can choose to swallow and be bitter because the other person isn’t suffering from it. Or we can spit it out and choose peace which also means better health for us. Life is so short, such a cliché but so true! How are you choosing to live your life?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What has been your poison pill experience? How has it impacted your life? Any resolutions you can try to change the end of your story?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

As the previous responses point out—this article is totally unrealistic.
Mind over matter?? We can chose to ‘think’ peace, but how can that be done when you are in a toxic relationship? Sometimes the healthiest choice is to exit that relationship—it won’t help trying to see things from the other person’s perspective. Particularly if they are cheating on you, or physically/verbally abusive. That would be making their bad behaviour acceptable.
And is so wrong.


You make a very valid point. I should have included a “disclaimer” that trauma and abuse situations are very different and beyond the scope of my commentary. Exiting the relationship, whether it is short term or permanent, could be the next best step for safety, sanity, or other reasons.


Usually when a mindset is locked in, it took many years of trials and self-protection to develop as a self preservation tool. I may want to chose peace, but find it impossible when someone encroaches on my territory and I feel threatened. This article attempts to over simplify social situations that take decades to develop. Before writing an article of this nature, you need more education and experience in the mental health field.


This is definitely a more complicated topic than the word limit allows to be addressed so my apologies for seeming to oversimplify. And I am definitely not an expert, just sharing my perspectives from personal experiences to encourage discussion. Thank you for noting the value of mental health experts.


‘we all need each other’ is written in this article. well, i don’t think that’s true. i have family i was raised with, and it’s a very toxic situation. as an adult, it’s left me leery of letting people too close (they went so far as to try and take my son for my sister -according to the authorities- because she couldn’t have children). this was long ago, and it was never even acknowledged, so it’s hard to offer forgiveness anywhere but in my own heart. there was also a predator in the family growing up, but he held the purse strings in the family. so i was painted ‘crazy’ when i told my Mom, lest i tell someone else and the flow of money within the family stopped.

so i think we don’t all need each other. and some connections are deathly toxic. i think as adults we choose our adult family. and -as i see cautioned in another comment- choose wisely.

as i’ve heard, it’s better to be alone than wish you were. once someone frees themselves from toxic ties, it’s tempting to buy into ‘forgiveness for all’, but some ties are better left broken. check with a counsellor you can trust, and move into a life that brings YOU Peace.


I think the “we all need each other” phrase was intended generally by the author to mean people need other people in their lives. Childhood and family dynamics certainly impact individual situations and I am so sorry that was your case too. Great reminders in these comments about connecting with a counselor/trained professional, thank you.


yes there is a challenge to write clearly for your audience. you refer to the writer in the third person; are you not the author of this article? or just a representative??

i am only commenting on the writing (albeit a bit out of context, i’ll grant you, but i’m not a professional author, either). and that is my point in part – individual experiences seem to call for individual solutions.

no need to ‘feel sorry’ for me; we all get dealt cards in life we might not choose; i’ve done better than not with my overall life experiences – i only to use my experiences to exemplify that there are particular situations (many more than my own, i’m sure) that make this article of advice a little saccharine at best.


I am the author of this blog but I did reference another author’s link within the article when I was sharing her three conflict resolutions concepts (that she was sharing from Deepak Chopra).


I love this article! I have very high cortisol levels and have many illnesses. I was in an abusive relationship and got away but I believe it affected my health. I will try to not swallow the poison pill! I think cortisol is my enemy…..we have control when we get angry…


Everyone’s situation is so different but a major reminder I wanted to convey in this blog was the impact of mindset on our physical body. Thank you for sharing your experience, it sounds like you are in healthier times!

Jennifer M. Bell

My current relationship is the poison I ate. Now I alawys advise all of my friends to think carefully before entering a relationship.


it’s never too late to take the next best step whether it is mindset related, seeking professional help, leaving a relationship, or something else. Take care of yourself.

Jennifer M. Bell

Thank you, Marie, for inspiring me.

The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

You Might Also Like