Not All Poison Comes Labelled: How to Recognize Toxic People

How to Recognize Toxic People

Why do we allow toxic people in our lives? The simple answer is that we keep toxic people in our lives because their lives are interwoven with ours. We feel it’s hard to leave, easier to stay, or we need them. The truth is toxic people can generate a lot of stress and hardship, even when they are close to us. In this article, I will discuss how to recognize toxic people and some things you can do about it. 

What is a Toxic Person?

Let’s start at the basics: What is a toxic person? 

A toxic person consistently emanates negativity through their actions, words, or presence, draining the energy and happiness of those around them. Their behavior often stems from deep-seated issues, insecurities, or trauma. While it’s essential to empathize with their struggles, it becomes a problem when their toxicity starts affecting your mental and emotional well-being.

But why are people toxic?

The motivations behind individuals exhibiting toxic behavior are multifaceted and differ from one person to another. In certain instances, such behavior can be attributed to deep-seated psychological challenges like anxiety, depression, or borderline personality disorder. Acting toxic might be a mechanism to manage their emotional turmoil for these individuals. For others, the root of toxic behavior might be an absence of empathy or a pursuit of dominance and control. For instance, those with narcissistic personality disorder might display unhealthy traits to influence others and maintain a feeling of ascendancy.

Toxic Waste Digital Art by Tamassia Martins
Toxic Waste Digital Art by Tamassia Martins

How to Recognize Toxic People: Signs That There is a Toxic Person in Your Life

  1. Constant Exhaustion: Every interaction or thought of this person leaves you feeling drained.
  2. Decreased Self-Worth: You frequently feel inadequate or doubt your decisions and worth.
  3. Persistent Anxiety: A sense of dread accompanies thoughts of meeting or interacting with them.
  4. Over-justification: You often defend or justify your actions to yourself or others.
  5. Walking on Eggshells: You’re always cautious, fearing any slight mistake might set them off.
  6. Neglecting Your Needs: Your desires, ambitions, and feelings always seem secondary.
  7. Distorted Reality: You start believing their version of events or truths, even when false.

How to Deal With Toxic People

  1. Set Boundaries: Clearly define what you’re willing to tolerate. If they cross these boundaries, hold them accountable.
  2. Limit Contact: Reduce the frequency and duration of your interactions.
  3. Seek Support: Talk to someone you trust about your feelings and experiences. Their perspective can be enlightening.
  4. Prioritize Self-care: Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. This will strengthen your resilience against toxicity.
  5. Increase Self-Confidence: One of the reasons toxic people impact you is because they shake you up. Improving your self-confidence may help reduce the effects a toxic person can have on you. Check out my article that covers ten things you can do to boost self-confidence.
  6. Cut Ties: In extreme cases where the relationship offers more harm than benefit, it might be necessary to sever ties entirely. Cutting ties can be challenging because the toxic person may be very close to you, but cutting ties may be your last resort when nothing else works. 

A Quick Note About Haters

​​Haters are a curious phenomenon in the journey of success. When you’re striving for greatness or achieving your goals, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll attract some detractors. In fact, having haters can be a reassuring sign that you’re making significant progress or doing something right. Instead of dwelling on their negativity, use it as motivation to keep pushing forward and proving them wrong. Success often shines the brightest in the face of adversity, and haters can unwittingly become your most significant source of inspiration.

You are the guardian of your peace, the curator of your life’s story. Recognizing and distancing yourself from toxic influences isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a testament to your strength and self-respect. Remember that your well-being is paramount even when these toxic individuals are family, close friends, or partners. 

Embrace relationships that uplift, support, and respect you, and have the courage to let go of those that do the opposite. Your journey to happiness and fulfillment demands nothing less.

Love, Jim