Nothing destroys our self-esteem, mental calm, or self-belief like toxic people running amok through our lives with access granted in the name of love or friendship.
Toxic people can keep us from finding the happiness that can give us true fulfilment. We can work on our damage and bravely step towards self-growth, but none of it would amount to much if you don’t defend the progress you make.
You must protect the vulnerable parts of your makeup. Protect it from the toxic people at work or in your social circle by learning to recognize the signs indicative of a toxic personality.
The people in our lives have a great deal of power over us, and if those people aren’t the right ones, they can destroy all our growth and send us right back to square one. I learned this the hard way, but I learned it nice and good.
In the past few years, I have pushed a lot of toxic people out of my life.
These people weren’t just casual acquaintances, they were old friends and family members. I prioritised my mental health and emotional balance and blocked all those people who brought nothing but grief to my life. It wasn’t a decision I reached overnight. It took me a long time to realize that these people were too selfish to be capable of honest and healthy emotions.
I like to believe that if you love someone enough, they’ll love you back. Turns out, that’s not always true.
In some cases, it is about building a healthy relationship but in others, it’s one person shamelessly using the other for his/her own selfish ends. If you struggle emotionally, you cannot afford to dedicate your mental energy into fixing some else’s issues. It doesn’t mean you keep away from people. It means that you choose wisely and when someone is gunning for your mental peace, you find the strength to shove them out of your life.
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
– Maya Angelou
You must learn to identify the personality traits shared by most toxic people.
Toxic people, I am sure, have a reason for the way they are wired. This need to constantly belittle others or needlessly attack choices that don’t concern them must be born out of some deep-rooted, unresolved issue or issues. While you may want to help such people, remember that it’s not in our power to change anyone. We can love unconditionally, but if we destroy ourselves in the process we won’t be doing anyone any good.
Toxic people are not all that hard to identify. There are indicators that point to a toxic personality. Learn to identify them.
Here are some common traits shared by toxic people –
1) They love playing the victim
Toxic people have a victim mentality.
They can recount every argument, failure, conflict of their past without taking responsibility for any of it. Things happen to them, but never because of them. Such people embrace victim mentality to shun responsibility for their own actions.
The constant whinging about their misfortunes is also their way of grabbing attention. The martyred saint act with their pseudo-self-effacing behaviour is a defence against criticism. In some cases, a victim mentality could be a sign of a bigger issue, but mostly, it’s just a person’s way of getting away with bad behaviour.
2) They keep score
Toxic people are good with grudges. They’ll dredge up the past to keep you in line. They never acknowledge growth in other people because it makes them feel powerless.
The lapses on your part become their weapon, one that they use incessantly in every confrontation that may not be going their way.
3) They put you on the defensive
Toxic people are experts at making you doubt your own convictions, and they’ll do it so smoothly that you’ll be left wondering how the conversation veered down that particular track. They may use mockery, ridicule, anger, and even fake concern to push you onto the defensive. You’ll be desperately defending decisions that are absolutely nobody’s business.
If someone makes you feel unsure or robs you of conviction, those are people you should avoid.
4) Toxic people never share in your joy
The most annoying of all – toxic people know how to kill your buzz!
They can very easily find a reason why your victory doesn’t REALLY count. They’ll give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t celebrate or why your win isn’t as a big a deal as you may think. Toxic people feel threatened when they are not the centre of attention so, anything that takes attention away from them is aggressively attacked.
Such people are insecure and jealous and all their emotional issues come out in ridicule, mockery, judgment, aggression, or criticism.
“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient. In fact, a man convinced of his virtue even in the midst of his vice is the worst kind of man.”
5) They leave you feeling exhausted
This is the easiest and most important way of knowing whether a person is good for your energy or not. Just notice how they make you feel, and what your energy levels are like after a lengthy interaction with them.
Think about it!
Time spent with loved ones, friends, and even friendly acquaintances usually gives us a fresh perspective and recharges our draining energy. In a few minutes of simple, honest conversation you share the good and the bad. Even if you end up crying over your loss with a friend, it makes you feel better because of the compassion and kindness you receive from them.
So, if someone leaves you feeling like you have been through an emotional wringer and not in a good way, that’s your cue to reevaluate your relationship with the said person. It’s time to terminate their access to your life.
6) They use you
Toxic people are very comfortable asking for help and depending on others, but they never reciprocate. No matter how many times you’ve saved their behind, they’ll never show up for you. They can’t be relied upon. Whenever it comes down to a choice, they’ll put themselves first.
Toxic people go through life believing the world owes them so to their way of thinking, they are simply collecting and reciprocation is not necessary.
7) They want to be your number one priority
When I am in a fight with my best friend, it makes me feel better to know that she has someone else to talk to. It’s important for me to know that while I am waging my juvenile cold war, I’ve not robbed her of her emotional support. So, I am always happy to know that people I love are fine even if I am not around. It doesn’t mean that they don’t need me; it just means that they won’t fall apart if I am gone.
You shouldn’t be with someone because you are dependent on them to a crippling degree. That is not healthy. Toxic people expect that level of dependability. They want to be your number one priority. They will accuse you of being a bad friend if you befriend other people. If they’re not around, they expect the fun to stop.
They may not prioritize you, but they expect you to centre your life around their wants and needs. Before you know it, you are walking on eggshells and making yourself small to fit their idea of the ‘perfect friend’.
Related: 3 Keys To A Healthy Relationship
Do you have a toxic person in your life?
Sometimes we indulge in behaviour that might be toxic because we are having a bad day and that’s okay. It’s human to have a bad day or even a bad week.
Except with a toxic person, it’s not a bad day but an unhealthy pattern of behaviour.
Your Instincts will always warn you when you’re in a relationship with someone toxic, pay heed and don’t ever underestimate the damage a toxic person can cause to your mental and emotional balance. If you feel unsure around someone and walk away drained with the happy sucked right out of you, it’s possible that you’ve granted access to a toxic person.
Keep in mind all the traits shared above and steer clear of anyone who fits the description! If you are in contact with such people for a considerable length of time, you’ll be able to pin down behaviour that isn’t quite consistent or that leaves you feeling disturbed.
Toxic people aren’t rational. They are lacking in balance and yes, they deserve help but it shouldn’t be at the cost of your own sanity. Don’t make healing them your personal responsibility. Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing yourself, and don’t turn their unhealthy version of love into a reason for staying.
A love that borders on emotional abuse isn’t something you need in your life.
When a person loves you, they want the whole world to see you as they do. They want the world to know how amazing you are and how much you are loved. Only a selfish love holds you back. Educate yourself on the subject, and learn to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Set boundaries and enforce them. If nothing else works, just walk away.
“Fire False Friends as early as possible. Do it before they dig out the dream seeds you’ve planted! The earlier, the better; the quicker, the safer!”
I really hope this post sends you on a cleansing mission. Cleanse your life of toxicity that other people bring into it.