Toxic people are everywhere.
In the animal kingdom, some creatures have developed interesting ways of defending themselves; some are strong or safe, some can see in the dark or hear a heartbeat from far away, while animals like the scorpion, poison dart frog, and the pufferfish have developed toxicity as a defense mechanism. In my time on earth, I have found that humans display a similar ability. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
A toxic animal would bite or scratch you, but toxic people will never apologize or take responsibility for how they hurt you; they’ll gaslight you and only ever apologize to you if it serves their purpose of manipulating you. Like the animals who use toxins, toxic people do this as a defense mechanism.
How to spot Toxic people
If you really pay attention to the things people say, how they treat you or service workers, and how they are in private vs. public, you will notice some very interesting things.
Toxic people talk about others behind their backs and will deny any accusations against them; they may even turn the blame around.
Toxic people are incapable of accepting responsibility for their wrongdoings and will go to the ends of the earth to prove that they are not wrong. If, for example, your partner cheats on you and you confront them about it, and they make up reasons why it’s your fault for not pleasing them? Or that you’re not perfect either? They’re toxic.
If your friend uses past trauma as a justification for treating other people poorly, they’re toxic.
Most toxic people are unwilling to change their ways, so trying to fix them is a waste of your time and energy, but if you truly love them, here are some ways to help you deal with any toxic people in your life.
How to get rid of toxic people
Those we would call toxic people do not actually have a clinical definition. So, it is not officially defined from a scientific point of view. This can make it difficult to know what to look for and what the warning signs are. That said, if those proverbial “toxins” are affecting you, so you have to get rid of them. So if you feel someone is toxic and feel like you’re being infected, cut them out.
Identifying problematic behavior and trying to communicate your feelings about it is a simple first step.
Dr. Berrie Sueskind is a relationship specialist in Los Angeles and has compiled a list of identifying characteristics.
- Self- absorption. When a person is completely consumed with their own “awesomeness,” they very seldom have any time to hear anyone else. They may come to you for advice but are never there when you need advice.
- Emotional manipulation. Playing on your insecurities, lying, and denial, changing the subject when they are backed into a corner, control through fear and isolation. These are all examples of emotional manipulation.
- Lack of empathy. It is challenging for a toxic person to truly express how they feel and truly be vulnerable. So, as a result, they have a hard time expressing compassion or empathy.
- Gaslighting. Gaslighting is an evil mind trick to make you think you’re crazy. They’ll say you said something and just forgot or move your keys to prove that you don’t always remember things properly.
- Stirring the pot. Toxic people love others’ drama and will retain and absorb all information to later use to create drama.
Here’s how you can stay away
- Do not play along – If you know something to be true, do not back down.
- Do not get consumed. Toxic people drain everyone around them, and if you fall into their trap, they will drain you too.
- Pay attention. Please note how you feel when you are around them and how they treat others in public vs. private.
- Try to communicate. Toxic people do not have to stay toxic, and they can change if they are willing. Tell them how you feel when they treat you like that. “I understand, I feel, I value, I trust” are all ways that you can try to open up the conversation.
- Put yourself first – If a relationship is no longer serving you, it must be removed. Your happiness is your responsibility, and if someone is not contributing to your happiness, they are not worth your time.
- Compromise, Don’t change – We will never be able to change the people around us; all we can do is change how we respond to them.
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