There are toxic partners, toxic bosses, toxic friends and a whole lot of toxic mother-in-laws; but what does toxic mean anyway. There is no agreed-upon description of what it means to be a “toxic” person. When asked to define a ‘toxic’ person, a habitual gossip might come to mind or an overly critical person.
Toxic is perhaps not so much a label of quality in a person but the way they make us feel when we are with them. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
• Do I feel better or worse about myself or life, in general, after spending time with this person?
• Do I find myself ignoring texts or phone calls from this person or canceling out on plans to get together with them?
• Has this person’s presence in my life done more harm than good?
• Does this person repeatedly leave you feeling wiped out and overlooked after spending time with them?
• Does an evening with this person leave you strangely deflated?
• Is this person always asking you for favours or support but is never available when you need their support?
We need to learn to recognise unhealthy people in our lives by identifying traits of jealousy, emotional manipulation, self-absorption, unrealistic expectations, anger issues, bitterness, competition, passive-aggressiveness, conflict avoidance, stress and consternation. Any of these behaviours might leave us feeling drained, manipulated, controlled, insecure or unappreciated, and are thus best avoided or we need to learn to minimize contact and set clear boundaries.
Human relationships are complex. If we want growth for ourselves, we should really try to figure out what exactly the person is doing so that we can learn more about ourselves and what we need from others for healthy relationships. Once you understand what toxic traits look like, it’ll be easier to spot them in your professional and personal relationships.
Always remember that someone else’s behaviour isn’t a reflection of you, and you aren’t responsible for fixing it. People with toxic personality traits are the only ones who can take responsibility for their actions and change. Meanwhile, also be aware of your own behaviours and correct yourself when you find yourself on the toxic trail.