Some catching up with my reservist mates over the past week brought up the topic of toxic people. Seeing as it’s the start of Lent, a season of reflection, I felt it’s timely for me to revisit this topic in my own journey and well worth a share.
We are usually able to tell when we encounter a toxic person at work or in a relationship, be it an abusive boss or an emotionally manipulative partner. But what happens when we find that we ourselves are actually toxic?
If you have never given it much thought before, here are five clear signs that you are actually a toxic person in need of help.
1. You are always the victim
Your life is full of drama. You often find yourself in situations where you feel powerless and confused. You have convinced yourself that any mess in your life is a result of external circumstances and the actions of others; and rarely, if ever, a direct consequence of your own toxic behaviour. If someone were to ask you about the role you played in it, you find that you have no ready answer. You can’t recall the last time you were really at fault for anything major.
The reality? Not only are you a perfectionist, but also a master manipulator and liar, living in denial so deeply that you have completely believed your own little white lies as the truth. When you are challenged with the real truth, you find yourself becoming confused because there is a lack of consistency between the two. You have subconsciously distanced yourself from your own toxic actions, because in your mind good people can’t make such mistakes, and you obviously think of yourself as a good person.
2. You are always complaining
There is a distinct difference between satisfaction and contentment. While it is okay to be dissatisfied and choose not to settle for anything less than what’s best for you, to progress and improve towards your life’s purpose; the opposite is true for discontentment. Discontentment is a poisonous seed that is borne from an irrational sense of self-entitlement and grows over time, severely hindering our ability to embrace gratitude. If you find yourself always bitching about work, bosses, colleagues, your relationship and partner, it is a big sign that you have a psychologically distorted outlook towards life, in a toxic way.
3. You notice problematic patterns and cycles in your life
Your life appears to be stuck on replay mode, even more often than in a football match after a goal has been scored. The only difference is, the same problematic issues are happening with different people. I have news for you, this déjà vu is not because you are a magnet for problematic people, it is because the problem lies with you. You are very likely a dishonest person; have trust and loyalty issues; lack the courage to handle the people in your life with class and respect, or all of the above.
4. People keep walking out of your life
Be it at your workplace, with your family members, or in love relationships; you regularly see high value people who respect themselves make an active choice of walking away from you and cutting ties with you. No, it isn’t about moving on, it is about damage control and making a statement, to regain the self respect that they’ve lost as their eyes have finally been opened to your toxicity, and how they have allowed their kind hearts to be corroded by it and taken advantage of.
5. You always need others to agree with you
You are someone who expects to be agreed with all the time, even if you don’t admit it. You are unable to handle and respect the differences of opinions from that of your own, lacking an attitude of compassion and understanding. Your body language betrays you, hinting at your true feelings of resentment when others express a thought, belief, or opinion that differs from that of your own, and you are unable to convince them with yours. This is actually a huge sign that you lack empathy, stemming from self-centeredness and a lack of openness, a key quality that is needed to become a good listener and communicator.
While it is easy for us to identify others as toxic, it is a million times more difficult to acknowledge that we ourselves are toxic and in need of help (Matthew 7:5).
If you have come to realise that you are a toxic person, it’s not the end of the world. There is no shame in coming into the light with our own darkness. Part of practising self love is not to judge or condemn ourselves. To simply accept right where we are at this moment, but to make definitive efforts to become better, more life-giving people that are in fuller awareness of our own human frailties and imperfections.
While I am still walking on this path towards a drama-free life, I have found these next steps in part 2 of this series to be incredibly useful, and would like to share them with you. Read on from the link below.