…As a famous pop-song said, once upon a time during my childhood. One of the most common notions met in the mainstream mental health conversation is the one called toxic people. We are frequently told to avoid them, as they are bad for our emotional balance and mental well-being. That they are also victims, people with traumatic experiences, and so on. But one of the things no one talks about is the fact that every single one of us could, at a certain point, become toxic. For the others or, even worse, for ourselves.
Because no one is really clean and no one is toxic either. The oh-so-popular toxicity is a social label covering a very wide range of behaviors. In other words, being toxic is something one mostly learns, not an inherited feature of the individual.
Some of the most popular (and common) behaviors labeled as toxic are:
Even if it comes to jealousy in a romantic context, a professional one or a friendship, it is one of the most common toxic behaviors. It affects the quality of the relationship and it often brings unwanted drama.
This happens whenever a person tries to diminish the importance and validity of other’s feelings, experiences, plans, and dreams. How many of you have heard that ‘You’re making it look like a bigger deal than it is!’? Well, that’s a sign of toxic behavior right there.
- Attention Seeking
One of the easiest to notice warning signs is this. A toxic person looooves to make everything about themselves. You’re telling her about something that recently happened to you? No worries, she got it the same way, too! And, of course, it wasn’t such a big deal, I’ve just dealt with it! Or, au contraire, they’re drama masters. There seems to be some drama unfolding wherever they go, and they never get tired of it.
A toxic person will lie, and often, and will know how to do it.
This is the easiest to see when everything is over. You will see, at some point, that you were to blame for everything by that specific person. You never got anything right, ever. In fact, you’re to blame for every wrong in the relationship, every failure, every miscommunication. Nothing to blame them for, just you. In the long run, it often becomes tiresome to always be the guilty one, so don’t beat yourself up for choosing to give up on the relationship.
Whatever is less than perfect, is a failure. Number two is the first of the losers! Does this kind of discourse ring a bell to you? If it does, then chances are that your toxic person was, as well, a perfectionist. And even it is a common trait, as I’ve previously said here, it makes you feel bad way more often than it makes you feel good around that someone. Let’s be honest, no one likes being around somebody who’s never satisfied with what they have at the moment. It just ruins the moment, as well as the other person’s joy.
These are the main clues to be looked after, but, from my experience, the thing is pretty simple. It all begins and ends with the way that person makes you feel about yourself. If you, and that’s the key-word here if you constantly feel bad about yourself if you constantly feel like you’re not doing or being good enough for that person, leave.
It might sound harsh, even selfish, but don’t feel bad if reading the lines from above, you’ve recognized a loved one. A relative, someone from your family, perhaps… It’s not you, it’s them. Toxic attitudes have no bloodline, they just happen.
Of course, there are different shades to it, some people are not even aware of their toxic behaviors, or the ways they affect you. And this is where you come- a calm, yet firm talk about how their behavior makes you feel could work wonders, especially if you will give them alternative ways of doing or saying things that hurt you less or not at all. Because not all the toxic people are evil, some just don’t know that they are acting wrong. And you might have a chance, if you won’t lose your temper during the talk, to actually improve those relationships.
It won’t be easy, but it would definitely be worth it, especially if those connections are important to you. But, and this is huge, having a talk with your dear ones about what harms you coming from them, and tolerating the same things over and over, these are two very different things. It is, indeed, their right to know what they are doing wrong and how could they possibly change this, but if they will just keep going with their old ways, feel free to put up new boundaries in your interaction with them.
At the end of the day, there’s not about relatives, family members, friends or even lovers. It is about your mental health, one of the most important things. And it is so, so important to be your own safe place in a toxic environment. What good could possibly happen in a world where you’re being toxic for yourself? Choose wisely, and if it happens to be the toxic person from your life yourself, just sit with yourself a little and ask yourself how much of your toxic behavior is internalized during your life from somewhere else? Because more often than not, the root of one’s toxic attitude about itself has external roots. Find the root, seek professional help, and remove it, as simply addressing the immediate effect won’t help.