We all do our very best to avoid toxic people. They make for really terrible friends, co-workers and even family members. But are you in danger of becoming a toxic person yourself? These are the 20 damaging behaviors and habits you need to avoid at all costs – see if you’re guilty of any of them.
20. Accusing others of being overly sensitive
Do you regularly find yourself telling friends that they’re too sensitive? Perhaps you’re often telling others to chill out and stop being so defensive? Well, maybe it’s time to stop and take a look at yourself instead. According to author Peg Streep, that’s a potential sign that the problem lies with you and not them.
19. Manipulating those around you
Nobody wants to be thought of as manipulative, but you might be doing it without even noticing. Maybe you’re trying to affect people’s choices or actions in a controlling way or deliberately trying to direct attention towards yourself. One Psychology Today article has claimed, moreover, that this sort of manipulative behavior is a sign you could be unbalanced emotionally.
18. Becoming narcissistic
Being selfish and self-involved is a serious sign that you could be turning toxic. So if you’re constantly thinking about yourself instead of caring for friends and loved ones, you need to take a step back and look at what you’re really putting out into the world.
17. Taking everything to heart
Sometimes that comment your colleague makes in passing is just a casual remark – it’s not an underhanded dig at you. Taking things personally is an indication of toxicity, according to life coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. In their book 1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently, they’ve claimed that “the truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them than you.”
16. Constantly playing the victim
It’s super-unhealthy to always play the victim, even if you have been through a trauma. And such an attitude can become toxic not just to others, but to ourselves as well. Marc and Angel Chernoff have asserted on this point, “Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck.”
15. Becoming endlessly pessimistic
Pessimism is an insidious habit to fall into and one we’ve probably all done at some point or another. But thinking negatively all of the time, and worrying constantly, could turn into a toxic habit. “Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in a negative mindset is another,” Marc and Angel Chernoff have advised.
14. Not getting a grip on your emotions
Do you have furious road rage? Or maybe you get weepy at any and every little problem? According to Marc and Angel Chernoff, this is another sign of toxicity. “An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you,” they have written. “If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing your cool at every turn, you may need some outside assistance to help you gain control.”
13. Being super-needy all the time
Do you really need your co-worker to talk you through that presentation again? Are you constantly relying on others for support and guidance? Perhaps it’s time to become more independent. Indeed, Australian psychotherapist and life coach Jodie Gale has said that “it’s common for people with toxic behavior to… be needy… and use others to meet their needs.”
12. Giving yourself a hard time
Being toxic isn’t just about how you treat others. If you’re constantly putting yourself down or thinking you’re not good enough, for example, you need to check that behavior too. Gale has added that toxic people are often “extremely critical of themselves.”
11. Complaining about what’s going wrong
Is your boss giving you a hard time? Are you getting FOMO from all your friends’ Facebook photos? Watch out: constantly complaining is thoroughly toxic behavior. And so next time you find yourself falling into this negative pattern, try being upbeat and finding a positive spin.
10. Being unwilling to seek help for your problems
Even if you’ve got emotional problems or substance abuse issues, you aren’t necessarily toxic. The key is being open to the idea of getting help. So try admitting you have a problem, because that’s when you’ll be able to break a toxic pattern of behavior.
9. Letting sarcasm become a way of life
Hey, we appreciate sarcasm as much as the next guy. But if sarcasm is your go-to response for literally everything, it might be time for a change. As Carl Alasko, Ph.D. has written for Psychology Today, “Sarcasm is psychologically rooted in anger, distrust and cowardice.”
8. Being relentlessly passive-aggressive
Do you throw thinly veiled aggression at your friends and family? Get a hold of that passive aggression right now. Former police officer Steve Albrecht DBA, who also has a degree in psychology, told Psychology Today that “toxic relationships are often characterized by hurtful remarks, constant sarcasm, belittling behaviors or passive-aggressive interactions.”
7. Not being happy for others
When your partner tells you they got a promotion, or your friend says they’re expecting a baby, your reaction is supposed to be happiness. And so if you find yourself seething over others’ good news, it’s a probable sign you’re becoming toxic.
6. Going off the grid
Do you often check out of life by just turning your phone off and going totally off the grid? Everyone’s allowed a little downtime occasionally, but if you’re actively ignoring and evading people, it’s a sign that you aren’t engaging healthily with others.
5. Speaking normal words in a nasty tone
Asking your partner how their day was in a really horrible, nasty tone of voice does not count as caring! So ask yourself what the problem really is and stop this habit. Because as psychologist Karen Young has asserted, this is yet another example of things turning toxic.
4. Exaggerating all the time
If you exaggerate literally all of the time – and we do mean all of the time – you could be falling into toxic patterns of behavior. And psychologist Karen Young has added that it’s also hard for your loved ones to “defend themselves against this form of manipulation.”
3. Judging others relentlessly
A bit of harmless gossiping or teasing is fine from time to time. But if your default reaction is to be judgmental, and especially towards people you’re supposed to care for, then you need to get that toxic habit in check.
2. Blaming others for your own issues
Guess what? Maybe the only person to blame for the fact you didn’t get that promotion is you. It’s a difficult truth to face, but if you’re constantly blaming others for your problems, that can get real toxic real fast.
1. Seriously procrastinating
We’re all allowed to put off doing something for a while. Procrastination is natural. But don’t let it run away with you or the habit will turn toxic. In fact, it could be a warning sign you’re not taking your duties or other people seriously enough.