How to spot toxic behaviour

How to spot toxic behaviour
How to spot toxic behaviour

You see the word "toxic" everywhere these days, but what does it really mean? You've almost certainly come across someone who fits the description. Dealing with difficult personalities can be challenging and emotionally exhausting, to say the least.

Familiarising yourself with toxic behaviour helps you to navigate these stressful relationships. Here are some of the traits generally associated with toxic people:

  • Toxic people are judgmental. They will criticise the things you've done and the things you haven't done. Problems are never their fault, and they're prepared to lie if it serves their purpose.
  • They're manipulative. They'll get other people to do what they won't - forget about what you want! When dealing with difficult personalities, it's essential to set boundaries. Bach Flower Mix 44 helps you be more assertive so you can say no whenever you need to.
  • Toxic people don't take responsibility for their own feelings but instead, project their emotions onto you. If you point this out, they will vigorously defend their point of view.
  • They never say sorry. They see no reason to because things are never their fault. Instead, they'll often try to gain attention and sympathy by portraying themselves as a victim.
  • Toxic people are inconsistent. They'll change their attitude, perspective and behaviour depending on what they want to happen. But, on the other hand, they can be kind to you when they want something. So it's hard to know how to deal with them.
  • They like to divide and conquer, making you choose them over anyone else. They can even require you to exclude other relationships from your life.
  • Toxic people focus on problems, not solutions. They aren't interested in your perspective or in seeking a compromise. They may be vague or arbitrary and divert attention away from the subject under discussion to your tone of voice or words.
  • Toxic people aren't loyal, supportive or caring. Good things that happen to you may divert attention away from them. Watch out for people who constantly find fault with you and like putting you in the wrong.

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But could it be you who's the toxic one?

Let's pause for a moment and reflect on these traits. It's easy to call people toxic. It justifies our emotions, gives us a sense of power and relieves us of responsibility. While it's true that some people are challenging to deal with, it's not helpful to think of ourselves as better or superior to them.

Can we say honestly that we don't recognise any of these characteristics in ourselves? Have we never been self-centred? Have we never been jealous? Are we never inconsistent in our behaviour? Come on, we're all human, and none of us is perfect!

The aim is not to allow such traits to become habitual. When we see these behaviours in others, we label them as toxic, tell ourselves that they are bad people with difficult personalities and try to avoid them.

It's true; nobody wants to spend time with selfish people. But being judgmental and scornful of them isn't necessary. In fact, labelling them as toxic could itself be toxic behaviour.

Calling others toxic isn’t helpful

When your plans don't work out, and others don't act as you'd like them to, what's your response? If you feel inferior or insecure, how do you behave with those you claim you love? It's all too easy to hold others responsible for our own happiness and very easy to label them as toxic when it appears that they are not considerate of our feelings.

We are quick to forget that we are the only ones in charge of our behaviour and emotions, so we end up thinking angry, selfish thoughts. But it's precisely this kind of behaviour that toxic people show. So who's the toxic one now?

Labelling people as toxic distracts us from real, underlying problems. It lets us feel better about our own actions, thoughts and feelings, allocating blame and elevating ourselves rather than trying to gain a better understanding of other people and our relationships.

Don’t play the blame game

When we can accept responsibility for our own feelings, we are less likely to blame others for how we are feeling. But that doesn't mean we have to blame ourselves instead. Blame restricts our personal growth. We all make mistakes! The thing is to acknowledge the mistake and learn from it so that we don't make the same mistake again.

You don't need to be best friends with those who behave badly towards you or condone their behaviour, but you also don't have to make the problem worse. Instead, understand that toxic behaviour usually arises from a place of insecurity and personal inadequacy. We need to accept that everyone is at a different stage of emotional development and surround ourselves as much as possible with those who love and respect us.


Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/26/toxic-people-behavior-blame-psychology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/in-flux/201608/8-traits-the-most-toxic-people-in-your-life-share

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Marie Pure

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