We will all come across a toxic person at some point in our lives. Toxic people tend to bring out the worst in us while depleting the joy from the simple things we usually love. We can often spot the unhealthy traits[i] in other people, but how adept are we at spotting these characteristics in ourselves? Some of us may be toxic people bringing emotional pain and suffering to the people we love and who love us the most.
If you suspect that you or someone close to you has a somewhat toxic personality, you may be able to stop unhealthy habits. Here’s how to stop being toxic, with tips on identifying the traits and understanding how to deal with a toxic person.
Am I A Toxic Person?
Before you can learn how to stop being toxic, you need to understand the characteristics of a toxic person. So, what is a toxic person? And are you one? The name pretty much says it all.
A toxic person is someone who brings a lot of negativity, guilt, and manipulation to a relationship. We find toxic people at work, at school, in our social circles and even in our families among the people we trust the most. Some characteristics of a toxic person include:
- You always find someone to blame for everything that goes wrong – Whether the toxic person failed to get a promotion at work or you had an argument over what to serve at your next dinner party. A toxic person will always find a way to blame you for everything that goes wrong.
- You cannot admit your own mistakes – A toxic person never admits to doing something wrong, and you can forget about an apology. On the very rare occasion when you do get an apology, it is usually delivered with a generous dose of sarcasm or used to make you feel guilty.
- Boundaries don’t apply to you – We all have our limitations, which healthy relationships will respect. A toxic person will keep pushing your limits, forcing you into situations you don’t want to be in. Your discomfort means nothing to them as long as they get what they want.
- You tend to ‘trick’ and lie to people – Don’t expect truth and honesty from a toxic person. They can look you straight in the eyes and lie to you. Also, they will usually become very mean and petty if you call them out.
- You are always the victim and never the perpetrator – This is the one that should always be red-flagged. A toxic person will turn on you in a flash if you call them out for bad behaviour and somehow turn it around, so they are the victim. Instead of making them accountable, you will usually end up feeling sorry for them.
- Your feelings matter above anyone else’s – Whether it’s a bad day at work or you have a family emergency, a toxic person simply isn’t interested in your feelings. However, they could open the fridge to the wrong flavour of yoghurt, and it’s a disaster that needs everyone’s urgent attention.
- You find it hard to listen – It’s perfectly normal to come home from work and discuss your day with your partner. However, a toxic person is always ready to talk about their day or themselves but has no interest in hearing about your day.
- You are harsh and don’t understand others’ emotions – Toxic behaviour is not limited to those closest to the toxic person, although those close to a toxic person tend to suffer the brunt of their nastiness. They are often quite mean to other people as well.
- You know how to manipulate people and situations – If you start thinking you are not good enough for your partner, chances are they have manipulated you into doubting yourself and destroying your self-confidence.
- You are ‘hot and cold’, or send out mixed messages – One minute, they are all sugar and spice; the next minute, they are sulking or completely ignoring you for no apparent reason.
- You are the centre of your universe and feel you should be at the centre of everyone else’s – One of the most noticeable characteristics of a toxic person is that they are so selfish. As far as they’re concerned, the world revolves around them and will ensure those closest to them comply with this way of thinking.
How To Stop Being Toxic
Finding out thFinding out that you are the toxic person in a relationship can be a nasty trip down the rabbit hole. Toxic people are often very self-centred, and it can be quite an eye-opener to discover that the world does not revolve around you and that you have some serious issues to address. However, if you genuinely want to salvage a relationship with your partner, family or friends, the onus is on you to make an effort. You can start to become a less toxic person or even make a complete turnaround if you follow a few steps that include:nclude:
1. Check Your Ego
If you have a toxic personality, you probably have a somewhat inflated ego as well. This means you are always right, and everything is about you. It’s time to take a step back and stop letting your ego get ahead of you in every situation.
2. Be Mindful of your Behaviour
What sort of an impact does your behaviour have on those around you? If those closest to you look sad or even angry at the things you do any say, it may be time to check your behaviour to see which aspects are causing the adverse reactions. This isn’t to say that every situation is due to your behaviour, but be mindful of how you speak to others and try to be nicer.
3. Listen To Those Around You
Being a good listener is one of the easiest ways to start losing toxic behaviour. A good listener is a good friend, and it may not be easy at first, but keep trying.
4. Show Some Compassion and Empathy
When your partner, family or friends are having a bad day or dealing with a crisis, don’t disregard their feelings. Instead, let them know you are there for them and offer to help them if you can.
5. Think Before You Reacy
Toxic people are notorious for flying off the handle and overreacting to almost every situation. So before you let your mouth run off with a barrage of criticism and insults, stop and think about how your words or actions will make others feel.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Show Your Sensitive Side
Many toxic people falsely believe that showing vulnerability and sensitivity is a sign of weakness. However, the exact opposite is true as it takes a stronger person to show their vulnerable side.
7. Don’t Back Down From Admitting You Are Wrong
Being wrong is something that happens to the best of us. Admitting you are wrong and being accountable for your actions is a sign of personal strength and growth.
8. Stick To Your Core Values
Just because you are on a journey of self-discovery and eliminating your toxic traits doesn’t mean you need to lose all of yourself. If you have a particular set of core values and morals, you can keep them. Just be mindful not to force them onto others.
9. Be Kind To Yourself
Admitting to your toxic traits can be quite upsetting, especially when you realize how badly you made those close to you feel. However, once you’ve admitted you have made mistakes, and you’ve committed to improving yourself and your relationships, you can be kind to yourself. You will have moments when you fall back into your old habits, which is normal. Just remind yourself that you are a work in progress, and you are human.
10. Don’t Shy Away From Asking For Help
Stopping yourself from repeating toxic behaviour will not be easy, and often you will feel like giving up. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help from professionals, and you can use online life coaching to help you through the process.
Why We Can Become Toxic People
When dealing with toxic people, we very rarely meet someone who is inherently bad or toxic. Some underlying issues usually change a person, and some even use toxic behaviour as a defence mechanism. Many toxic people feel empathy, remorse and regret, just like many others around them. However, they often choose to ignore or bury those feelings because dealing with them can be a painful experience.
Understanding how you started showing toxic behaviour is key to learning how to stop being toxic. Quite often, a toxic person is someone who has been the victim of a toxic person and learned the traits in a bad relationship. Sometimes, it results from childhood trauma and the toxic traits we adopted as a coping mechanism.
Almost everyone is redeemable, and just as toxic behaviour was learned, it can be unlearned. Of course, it does take time, but if you’re determined to make a few changes in your life, you can succeed.
Every Day Is A Perfect Day For Change
Whether you are in a relationship or you are the toxic person in a relationship, learning how to stop being toxic will break the cycle. Humans are social creatures by nature, and despite what we are often told, people can change. Take it one step at a time and accept that you will make mistakes along the way. Move forward with a positive step, and every step will lead you in the right direction.