Toxic is a term used in human behaviour to describe someone who causes distress in others through negative words and actions. However, identifying a toxic person can be difficult because their behaviours can be subtle.
For example, you may have a person in your life who consistently causes you confusion, anxiety, and stress for no apparent reason. So, how do you tell if a person is “toxic”? And how will you deal with it? Here are some pointers for recognising toxic behaviour and dealing with it.
What Toxic Personality?
Toxic means different things to different people. Toxic, in scientific terms, is a label applied to substances that can cause harm, such as poisonous chemicals. The term “toxic person” is frequently used to describe someone who is either subtly or overtly manipulative, self-centered, needy, or controlling. These behaviours may be the result of underlying feelings of low self-esteem and mental health issues such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), childhood trauma, or other deeply rooted personal issues. However, just because there is a reason for the toxic behaviour does not make it any less harmful. And if you’re experiencing this from another person, it can be perplexing, hurtful, and even make you feel guilty.
How do you spot toxic behaviours?
Identifying a “toxic person” may be more about how they make you feel than what they do or say. If you interact with someone who exhibits toxic behaviours, you may:
Be confused and self-conscious
Leave the interaction feeling exhausted, angry, or anxious
Have a negative self-image in some way
Constantly feel the need to assist them
Observe your boundaries are not being respected or you are being manipulated
Feel guilty for saying “no” or believe they will not accept “no” as a final answer
Change your behaviour frequently to adapt
What are some signs?
People who exhibit toxic behaviours may be difficult to identify. Aside from noting how they make you feel, there are a few warning signs that a person may be toxic.
These signs include the following:
They can be masters of manipulation, which you may not realise until you see them do it to someone else.
They may constantly pass judgement on others, including you.
Their neediness can be oppressive, but when you need them, they vanish.
The drama may follow them wherever they go, and their life may appear to have the plot of a television soap opera.
They may not see themselves as the source of the problem; it could be someone else’s fault.
In the case of toxic positivity, they may be so positive about everything that they refuse to acknowledge when genuine challenges exist.
How to Deal with a Toxic Personality
If you’ve determined that you’re engaging in toxic behaviours, there are steps you can take to reduce the impact these behaviours may be having on your mental health and well-being
Set boundaries, even if it means feeling guilty.
Knowing where to draw the line when dealing with toxic behaviour is critical. The challenge is getting rid of the guilt and exercising the self-determination required to set and stick to appropriate boundaries. Fear of how the person will react may also cause hesitation in setting boundaries, especially if they frequently use angry outbursts to manipulate the outcome of a situation. However, setting clear boundaries about what you will and will not do is a necessary step toward moving on and healing from the trauma.
Discuss it with them.
A person who exhibits toxic behaviour may be unaware that what they are doing or saying is causing you harm. If this is the case, consider having a heart-to-heart about what you’re going through. Nonetheless, some people may have an underlying personality disorder or an untreated mental health condition that makes effective communication difficult. In that case, encouraging them to discuss your concerns with a mental health professional may be more beneficial.
Try not to fix things.
The desire to assist another person in their time of need can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you believe you have sound advice that can help the situation. Attempting to assist, on the other hand, may result in a frustrating cycle of listening and advising with no solution ever reached. To avoid this, remember the expression “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” and try to stay as detached as possible.
Spend less time with them.
If the relationship is causing you a lot of stress and harm, you should think about cutting ties and moving on. However, if you work or co-parent with them, this may not be possible. In that case, it’s fine to avoid contact as much as possible, dealing with them only when absolutely necessary.
Make some time for yourself.
If you must live or work with a toxic person, make sure you have enough alone time to relax, rest, and recover. You deserve this break. You have earned the right to think peacefully, free of external pressure and toxic behaviour.
There are no problems to solve, boundaries to maintain, or personalities to please. Sometimes you need to make time for yourself, away from the hectic world that doesn’t make time for you.
Take their toxic behaviour in stride.
Toxic people will almost certainly try to imply that you’ve done something wrong. And, because many of us have a high threshold for “feeling guilty,” even the suggestion that we may have done something wrong can undermine our self-esteem. Do not allow this to happen to you. Remember that when you take nothing personally, you gain a tremendous amount of freedom. Most toxic people are harmful to everyone they come into contact with, not just you.
If you’ve observed these behaviours in others, you may be dealing with a “toxic person.” Understanding why this person makes you feel the way you do can assist you in overcoming toxicity and moving on healthily. However, if you are unsure whether the person in question is behaving in a toxic manner, seeking a second opinion from a mental health professional may not be a bad idea. Speaking with someone about the situation may help you gain the clarity you require. Once you’ve identified toxic behaviours, consider setting healthy boundaries, identifying ways to spend less time with them, and working toward healing from any harm their behaviour has caused.Featured Image Source: The Guardian Nigeria
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