It is hard to see your own flaws, so how do you know if you are a toxic person? To begin, a toxic person is more than someone who is always negative.
Now, a negative person sees the worst in people and expects the worst to happen. You can sympathize with them; they may have been through trauma that left them stoic and sad.
They, however, do not steal your joys.
Toxic people, by contrast, are a bad-natured breed. They will find you, suck your happiness, and infect you with their bitterness, like a virus. They can trigger toxicity in any relationship.
So, do you think you’ve become pessimistic and negative? Or, have you become toxic without realizing it? Let’s find out.
Are you a toxic person?
Here are some signs to point out if you are a toxic person:
You are a toxic person if you make life difficult for those around you. You are toxic if you cause mental distress, damage relationships, blame and guilt-trip others, bully and troll people, cheat others, and are always mean to those weaker than you. If your sole delight is to see others suffer losses, then you are toxic.
Toxic people are not only negative in their words, but also destructive in their acts. There are countless ways you can harm others if you are a toxic person:
1. You always look for faults.
Some fault-finders are crucial team members because they allow the team to spot problems and rectify them before a product’s final release.
The problem arises when you take it as your personal mission to find flaws in everyone and everything. So, you put down even the most brilliant ideas with remarks like “But it’s not going to work because …!” This unwarranted fault-finding is a toxic habit.
Then, if you are a narcissist, you try to manipulate them by serially lying about what they should do rather than what they are doing.A toxic person is a malicious and manipulative person who finds pleasure in bringing and seeing others down. Click To Tweet
2. Your natural reaction is sarcasm.
Are you the type of person who, when someone says something nice about you, responds with,
- “That’s a pathetic attempt to impress me,” or
- “What favor do you want from me?” or
- “Can you really flatter me like that?”
Then, you are the sarcastic person who doesn’t know how to be kind when someone is being good to you. Your act of making a mockery of their compliments toward you makes you a toxic person. By the way, sarcastic people are smarter than people think of them.
If you always push people around you to act happy and see the bright side of things, then you are spreading toxic positivity.
3. You are an extreme pessimist.
The American Psychological Association defines pessimism as “the attitude that things will go wrong and that people’s wishes or aims are unlikely to be fulfilled.”
At times, anyone can get pessimistic and see the world through a glass-half-empty lens. However, if your attitude of expecting negative outcomes, even when everything is going well, is pervasive, then you qualify as a toxic person.
If you always look for ways to demotivate others, focus on what could go wrong, think that the risks outweigh the benefits, undervalue people’s abilities, or kill people’s dreams and hopes, then you are an extreme pessimist.
An extreme pessimist also tries to deflect criticism by falsely claiming to be a realist (someone who sees what is real or actually possible) while denying that they are actually toxic.
4. You impose your opinions on others.
You’re considered a toxic person if you always try to see others through your own values.
You ignore their unique situation and set out to judge them solely based on your own righteousness.
When you witness people in misery, you feel obligated to preach to them instead of simply empathizing with them. In fact, you might not even know what empathy is.
This is a toxic attitude since it assumes that every problem must have a solution that worked for you or that you think will work for them. As they say, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
“One man’s gospel truth is another man’s blasphemous lie. The dangerous thing about people is the way we try to kill anyone whose truth doesn’t agree with ours.” ― Mira Grant, Blackout
Can I be toxic to myself?
Your toxicity doesn’t end with others, and it can hurt you too. You could be continually trying to justify yourself. You have low self-esteem as a result of comparing yourself to others. You do not stand up for yourself and let others walk all over you. You neglect self-care and self-compassion.
However, it may be difficult to determine whether you are toxic to yourself if you do not act aggressively in general and show the toxic signs only when stressed. In such cases, look for a poor self-image, constant anxiety and stress, and chronic anger as clues that you may be toxic to yourself at times.
How do you change your toxic personality?
Here are a few suggestions to change your toxic nature:
1. Don’t offer unwarranted critiques or help.
For a change, keep your critical opinions to yourself until you are invited to share them.
While being happy to help is a healthy attitude, forcing yourself to help on every occasion is a terrible habit. Stop that today.
2. Don’t react to everything with cynicism.
Don’t be cynical all the time. For a change, say “Thanks!” with a smile when someone praises you or your efforts. Gratitude has immense power to raise your happiness levels.
The modern definition of a cynic is someone who believes that human actions are entirely motivated by selfish interests. But the original Cynics were a school of philosophers who believed that the purpose of life is to live in virtue. It was a Cynic who mentored Zeno, the first Stoic.
Don’t force someone to be happy when they are grieving because grief is an individual experience with no time limit.
3. Don’t seek advice only to dismiss it.
As a toxic person, you may have the habit of asking people for advice and making them believe you are in desperate need of their help. But as soon as they respond with their suggestions, you start to bring down their well-intended ideas with negativity.
Actually, you merely desired their attention by posing as someone in need of aid and support. Over time, people become aware of your hidden intentions and distance themselves from you.
Stop asking for people’s advice if you do not intend to value them. Don’t lead people up the garden path to satisfy your narcissistic ambitions.
Does everyone have toxic habits?
We all have a few toxic habits, but we do not always show them. We sometimes spread gossip, pass unkind comments, tell white lies, vent our wrath, and gaslight without intention. We occasionally react with anger, put others down, boast of our achievements, carry bitterness, and cheat a little.
We all have a few self-sabotaging toxic habits, like stress, indiscipline, mind-wandering, unrealistic expectations, and inappropriate language.
Some common toxic personality habits include being critical, outspoken, confrontational, withdrawn, impulsive, or too critical.
How do you become toxic?
A toxic personality habit can be the result of our childhood environment. We may have had a parent who treated us poorly when we were young, or we may have had a teacher in school who was always hard on us. The way we reacted to those situations got ingrained deeply in our brains. When we experience a similar situation, we may react in the same way as our parents or teacher did. We may even react with increased toxicity.
Can you change from being toxic?
We can change from being toxic. Science suggests that our personalities are not fixed. It is true that our personalities are shaped by our life experiences, but they are not static. All of us can be better versions of ourselves, though it takes effort to change our habits.
Our results, therefore, suggest that personality can change and that such change is important and meaningful. ― Boyce, Wood & Powdthavee (2012)
Acceptance is the first step toward transformation.
We should not carry a shame for life just because we have a few toxic habits. We should rather take pride that we have overcome them.
When we recognize our harmful behavior, even if it is sporadic, the ball of empathy starts to roll for us. This then raises our self-awareness and helps us become better versions of ourselves.
A toxic person is someone who habitually exhibits hostile and hurtful attitudes and feelings toward others without taking the blame for their unkind acts.
Toxic people can bring their own brand of misery to daily life, depending on where they are, at the workplace, at home, in clubs and gyms, and even on vacations. Their toxicity rubs off on us to the point that we literally get a sour taste in our mouth the moment they are near.
Make sure you are not the one who unconsciously gaslights a relationship into becoming toxic.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, mindfulness, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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