Toxic Personality Traits
Each item that we consume helps to either heal us or poison us. It is not just food that nourishes our bodies but also everything that we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. From the books you read to the air you breathe, all that you consume is a source of nourishment. Every single conversation that you have will positively or negatively impact you. Review your relationships. Do these connections nourish love and support, or do they feed self-doubt and anxiety?
Often we encounter people who fuel our insecurities and drain our emotional well-being. If you notice this to be a trend for a certain person, they may be toxic. It is important to take a step back, assess the relationship, and care for yourself.
Below is a guide to help you starve the negative aspects of your life so that the positives may be nourished. You will learn to identify toxic personality traits and how to protect yourself from them as well as how to heal any toxic behaviors that you may have.
Toxic Personality Traits to Look for and Avoid
Selfishness: Can you think of anyone that asks for your support through all of their problems, yet when you need help, they are never available? This is a key trait of a toxic person. Unless it is about them, these people don’t care. They do not support you, and they definitely do not go out of their way for you. Conversations are almost always about them, and you will frequently find yourself cut off the moment you can finally get a word in.
- Negativity – For a toxic person, something is always wrong, and nothing is ever right. They often display their negativity through sarcastic comments and complaints. They focus on problems rather than solutions and may frequently suck all the positivity out of you.
- Manipulation – To get what they want, toxic people often try to control you. These people are experts at playing with your emotions and using them against you if needed. They may be very subtle with this, leaving people unaware that they are even being manipulated until it is too late.
- Triggering Other’s Guilt – Toxic people tend to “guilt” others into getting what they want. If they are being accused of something, they may shift the conversation by bringing up irrelevant details about something they did years ago. If they are looking for attention, they may persuade you to drop what you are doing and spend time with them. A common example would be, “If you really loved me, you would come to see me tonight instead of going to that exercise class.”
- Lacking Empathy – Unable to empathize, toxic people cannot comprehend the feelings that another person is experiencing. They don’t take the time to understand another person’s situation because they are too wrapped up in their own world.
- Jealous and Judgmental – A toxic person feels a need to believe that they are the “best”. If something positive happens to another person, they become upset that this event did not happen to them as well. These feelings are often released through judgmental gossip or criticism. This is their attempt to lower your self-esteem and, in turn, increase theirs. They try to build themselves up by tearing others down.
- Telling Lies – Whether it is to get themselves out of a situation or to make themselves the hero of the story, toxic people may frequently lie. They might create an entirely new scenario, twist an existing story around, or just remove essential facts. Either way, this action leaves it difficult to trust what they are saying.
- Victim Mentality – A toxic person will never admit they are wrong. Rather than taking responsibility for their feelings or actions, toxic people often blame anything or anyone but themselves. They are always the victims, and they thrive off of others’ attention and compassion when they play this role.
- Disrespectful – Needing always to be put first. Toxic people will hurt anyone that they feel threatened by. They will not stop to respect you or your feelings. Often they may say very painful things and later play them off as a joke.
- Center of Attention – Toxic people will do anything for attention. They love being the star of the show. Attention is their main source of validation; it makes them feel important. If there is ever a dull moment, they will create a crisis just to enjoy watching people try to help them.
Protect Yourself from Toxic People
Spending time with a toxic person can leave you feeling emotionally drained and unfulfilled. They subtly attack your self-esteem and may leave you with a negative attitude. Although you may feel bad for them, your well-being must be a priority. Here are some steps to protect yourself from toxic people:
- Identify: Review the above list of toxic personality traits. A person does not have to possess each of the traits to be toxic. Just a few obvious signs may be enough. Knowing and understanding these traits is the first step to recognizing if there is anyone currently in your life that fits the description as well as identifying people that you will meet in the future. It is important to spot a toxic person before they get too close.
- Assess: Review your relationship with each person that you identified. How do they make you feel? Are you sad after your interactions? Drained? Do you feel pressured by them or the need to impress them? Be honest with yourself and take some time to weigh out the pros and cons.
- Set boundaries: You may not be able to change what another person does, but you can change what you do. Although you may feel guilty, setting boundaries is the most important thing you can do for your health. If you noted many negatives when you were assessing, it might be best to bring those relationships to an end. If this is not possible, you should set strict internal and external boundaries to follow. If this person is a close family member, counseling may be a step in the right direction.
- Follow your instincts: If you are unsure of whether someone is toxic or not, listen to your gut! Whenever you get a feeling that something or someone is not quite right, trust that feeling and take action to care for yourself.
Reviewing and Redirecting Your Behavior
Now, you may be great at noticing these traits externally – but have you searched within? WHAT IF YOU’RE THE CAUSE OF TOXICITY IN YOUR LIFE? Unfortunately, we all have unhealthy personalities deep within us that negatively impact our lives. We may consider them “issues”, but haven’t fully wrapped our minds around these traits and haven’t made an effort to change them. Take a minute to review the list again. Are there any toxic personality traits that you can see in yourself?
Tips for healing your identified trait:
- Admit it. Look inward to identify all your toxic behaviors and start to eliminate them. Take 100% responsibility. Practice self-discipline.
- Be the hero, not the victim. When we play the victim, we choose to blame others instead of choosing responsibility. This only leads to feelings of powerlessness. No, the universe is not against you. Stop giving opportunities to people who make you feel inferior and let you down. Learn the power of saying “no” and “yes” to the right opportunities.
- Look on the bright side. You can never fail in life; your actions merely produce results. It’s up to you how to interpret those results. Positive thinking is an understanding of how to feel negative emotions and still maintain enough hope to keep going. Sometimes we can’t shape our life situation, but we can shape our attitude toward those situations. Be vigilant over your thoughts, and stop the toxic negativity.
- Take a break from social media. Don’t allow yourself to waste time scrolling through posts that you are judging or comparing yourself to. Worrying about what other people are doing consumes a lot of energy that could be spent on improving your own life. Constantly comparing what others have is completely toxic and a waste of time. Your life is your journey, not a competition with others. Measure your progress by comparing yourself to who you were yesterday.
- Accept that “perfect” is a myth. Perfectionism grows when you feel imperfect and deeply flawed. You have to constantly re-earn or re-prove your worth to others or yourself. The problem is that you’re constantly seeking external validation. It’s like being on a treadmill, always chasing the feeling that everything in your life is “right”. But absolute perfection doesn’t exist. Life is a continual journey, constantly changing and evolving. You need to realize that true internal acceptance and peace come from understanding what’s inside of you. You’ll never hustle your way into self-love.
- Say, thank you. Be grateful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. Writing down three things each day that you are grateful for can open your eyes to all that you have and allow you to reach a greater appreciation for them. Slow down and enjoy each experience. Sometimes, the best things in life are easily overlooked.
Ask yourself: would you want to hang around with me? Be someone you want to be around. Your mission isn’t to please everyone, but are you bringing negativity to your environment? Today, you have the power to make incremental changes to evolve into a greater version of yourself.