You probably know how important it is to avoid toxic people. What we find harder to grasp is what exactly makes a person toxic. There is a set of behaviors these people have in common. This article aims to make you more aware of the essence of toxicity so you don’t tolerate or have to tolerate it anymore.
What are the signs of a toxic person?
It can be hard to cut toxic people out of your life if you don’t recognize the signs. In fact, it would be more correct to speak of toxic behaviors rather than people. These behaviors include lack of support, a tendency to play the victim, to share too much to the point of making someone uncomfortable, and to consciously inflict pain on those around you.
What is Toxic Behavior in a Relationship?
If you have a partner or friends who are always trying to control your life, this is definitely a red flag. Self-respecting people never tolerate those who want to manipulate and control them. You deserve relationships and friendships that will enhance your well-being and motivate you to learn and grow. The people in your life should raise you up more than put you down. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often we let this type of behavior slide. Self-respecting people don’t allow anyone to control their life except themselves.
Here are some other toxic behaviors that people who respect themselves do not tolerate.
Being manipulative is a salient trait of toxic people. They get those around them to do whatever they want. Everything is always about them. They use others, especially loved ones, to achieve their goals. It’s never about the things other people want.
Toxic behavior involves never taking responsibility for your feelings and experience, whatever it may be. These people’s purported pain and suffering is constantly being projected onto those around them. When you try to explain this to them, they will get defensive or deny the validity of your stance. What is more, these people are severely judgmental. They are always critical, always prepared to voice disapproval and to discourage you from achieving your goals. They will tear you down when you fail and ignore your success. In fact, your success will make them angry, because they feel threatened. They have power only when you are weak. They are not interested in a healthy, supportive relationship.
Self-respecting people do not tolerate negative self-talk. They know that if they want their reality to be more vibrant and pleasant, their thoughts must align with that. The world is depressing as it is, but especially when you have a negative view of yourself. To be happy, you need to model positive behavior, starting with your own. If your relationship with yourself is positive, you will find bliss and opportunity everywhere you go. Self-respecting people value and love themselves with a passion. They have realistic goals and mostly positive thoughts and tend to build healthy, constructive relationships.
Never Leaving your Comfort Zone
Nothing grows in a comfort zone. It’s understandable that you want to avoid discomfort – the world can be a frightening place. Lots of people decide to hide in a safety net for this reason, sometimes for years. However, a self-respecting person loves a good challenge. They realize the temptation to hide away conceals a set of toxic behaviors and are not afraid to experience discomfort. It is by pushing boundaries and working hard that you grow and evolve as a person.
Being Forced to Make a Choice
Constantly making someone prove themselves to you is an intolerable and very bad behavior. People who are prone to demonstrating toxic behaviors will make you choose them over someone or something else. This often transforms into a type of “divide and conquer” relationship, in which they are the only choice, often to the point of making you give up meaningful relationships for their satisfaction.
They refuse to accept there is more to your life than the fact that they are in it. They will always make you defend yourself. They have a hard time staying on point on specific matters, probably because they do not care about what you think. When there is a conflict, they are not looking to resolve it amicably. This ties in with their tendency to manipulate. Their tactics include being arbitrary and vague and shifting the focus of the conversation from what you’re saying to the way you’re talking about something, such as your words or tone of voice. They do not focus on solutions, only on problems.
Why shouldn’t you choose someone else – anyone else – over them? They are not supportive, caring, or even remotely interested in what matters to you.
Being Compelled to “Fit In”
Self-respecting people know they won’t learn and grow by following the herd. They carve their own lane and trust their intuition. They may not have been born feeling comfortable in their own skin, but they have learned to. If you trust your intuition, you’ll see a wealth of opportunity before you.
Ignoring your Health
Neglecting your health is a form of toxic behavior that is damaging only to you. If you don’t feel well physically, mentally, or emotionally, you might need to make some changes in your life. Of course, you can’t expect to start feeling well overnight or without an effort. With actionable steps and measures, it will eventually happen. Self-respecting people always put their health first. They realize they’ll never be as productive as they can be if they are in poor health.
Working a Job you Hate
Do you feel depleted of energy at the end of the day? You’re probably in the wrong line of work. Pay attention to your emotions and look for a sense of balance in your everyday life. It’s a shame that a lot of people work jobs they don’t like. Bills are bills, but your health and happiness matter too. That’s what balance is about.
Some jobs really are soul-sucking. A telltale sign that yours is one is if all your coworkers hate what they do. Don’t hesitate to leave a job that drains you and make an effort to find something more fulfilling. Self-respecting people try to find out what they want and need and follow that calling. You might need to tough it out until you get a more satisfying job, but it is a fact that a self-respecting person will ultimately quit a job that doesn’t support their emotional and mental well-being.
If you’re at a loss at what to do, an occupational therapist might be able to help you. You can share what things you like doing and get qualified advice.
Choosing to be Miserable
As with neglecting your health, this is a type of toxic behavior that impacts only you. A lot of people settle for less than they should and ultimately get it because they don’t value themselves enough or think they don’t really mind being in the situation they are currently in. Know that being miserable is a personal choice. There are times in life that you need to make changes. Your well-being is contingent upon that. Self-respecting people don’t place any limits on themselves.
Start by leaving anything that doesn’t improve your life behind. Forgive yourself for the things you chose to deal with and accept and move on. This goes for jobs, dieting, sport, but mainly relationships. Surviving is one thing, but thriving is another, and happiness is a choice just like misery. It is hard to constantly walk around with a heavy heart.
Signs You’re Surrounded by Toxicity
A toxic person will affect you emotionally. Their drama is contagious. You fear or dread their very presence. You feel angry or drained after being around them. Their modus vivendi of playing the victim exhausts you. Sometimes, you even feel angry while with them. Everything is your fault to their mind. You end up ignoring your own values just to maintain the interaction. After talking to them, you feel ashamed or otherwise bad about yourself. The person is too controlling for your good.
Exploring our Interaction with a Toxic Person
It’s important to explore our own role in these experiences. For example, how do you compromise your boundaries or values? Do you “act” out because they’re not listening to you or because they don’t understand you? Do you react to criticism by withdrawing? To cope with toxic interactions, be assertive and express how you feel. Make it clear you respect yourself and will not tolerate certain kinds of treatment. Remember to use “I” statements, set limits, and maintain them. We are masters of our own lives.
Think about your relationship with the toxic person. How have you become caught in it? It’s especially difficult when this person is a parent, which is often the case with toxic influences. You can’t just cut your parents out of your life, although that can and does help sometimes.
If the relationship is just too bad for you or the person’s toxic behavior doesn’t change, let them go with compassion and move on. It can be painful to have to end a relationship with a person whom you considered close, particularly if you have a long history together, but you will ultimately make room for much better and healthier relationships in your life.