Identifying “toxic” people

In my heart of hearts I didn’t want to believe that anyone was toxic. I wanted to think we are all doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. Even when I look back at my own life, I realize I said and did some really unfavorable things. When we know better, we do better.

Unfortunately, I have been in a situation involving someone who was very toxic that changed my naive views.

Is it our fault when we become victim to toxic people? No. Could we do something to end that situation? Absolutely.

Though I allowed it to go on for far too long, my experience with a toxic situation is years behind me now. I truly believe we can learn something from any situation no matter how bad. In my life, I’ve had to learn and adhere to boundaries.

I’ve also learned to tighten my social circle. Since that happened, I’ve gained more control over my own life in a lot of ways. I curate everything in my life now. I curate my social media to follow people who inspire and motivate me. I’m curating my wardrobe so that I can wear clothes that suit me which I really love. My husband and I have been curating our home so that everything in it reminds us of love, family and happy times. I also curate my social life. My circle is small but precious to me. Truly, my life is better now than it was before. If I could have been able to establish and enforce boundaries before my toxic encounter, I wouldn’t have had to go through some traumas that I did though. I’m writing this so others can learn from my mistake, if possible.

My dad always told me to be a leader, not a follower. He told me that I should choose my friends wisely. That was way before the terms “toxic” and “energy vampires” were coined. It really is good advice.

Though, like most lessons learned in life, sometimes we learn them the hard way. It gets complicated when we’ve known this person for a long time and care about them. It’s even more complicated when they are family. Our parents don’t usually teach us how to handle toxic family members.

We learn our lessons about boundaries crossed when we’ve either been hurt or betrayed one too many times or get caught up in some drama or competition we never asked to be a part of. It happens to the best of us. Especially to those with kind hearts. Should we be less kind? No. We need to balance that kindness with wisdom though.

Has anyone else noticed the large amount of social media content about identifying narcissists and narcissistic behavior? At first, I thought it’s something people are interested in because it’s headline worthy and eye catching. There’s a kind of shock value to it. I didn’t want to buy into it because for one, we shouldn’t go around diagnosing or psychoanalyzing others if we aren’t qualified to do so. Secondly, it seems like a fear-based subject which I don’t like to participate in.

However, upon further research and according to Psychcentral I was appalled to learn the following:

There are approximately 326 million people in the U.S. (The U.S. population has increased) and 6% percent of them have narcissistic personality disorder, which equals19,560,000 people. If each of those people narcissistically abuse just five people during their lives, that amounts to an additional 97.8 million people!

If you apply the same formula to the world population using the current population estimate of 7.5 billion, are you ready for this?

3.3% of 7.5 billion = 247,500,000 people with antisocial personality disorder

6% of 7.5 billion= 450,000,000 people with narcissistic personality disorder

247,500,000 + 450,000,000 = 697,500,000 people who lack empathy, or are without a conscience. If each of those people narcissistically abuse just five people during their lives, the tally of potential damage affects over 3.4 billion people!

In my view, for most of us, someone who is “toxic” is just a person who doesn’t currently support, encourage or align with us. We tend to feel sorry for people because we are tricked by their manipulation. That line from slightly toxic to abusive, manipulative and controlling can be crossed before you know it. There really are some mentally ill people who will deliberately manipulate others for their own advantage without any remorse whatsoever. That number seems to be growing which is all the more reason to keep our circles tight, else we become victims of their abuse. These types of people can really wreak havoc on a person’s life. I don’t want anyone else to find out the hard way, like I did.

Let’s keeping delving into this idea of identifying and removing toxic people.

We all have goals and dreams. We need to be responsible to complete those goals so we can attain those dreams. There are, however, times in our lives when we get side tracked or detoured down a road we didn’t mean to go down. It’s our own responsibility to identify when that happens and make a quick u-turn and get the heck out of there and back on track as soon as possible.

If you find yourself being taken down roads you didn’t intend to go down by others, you might be involved with a toxic person and are not in the driver’s seat of your life.

There are many levels of toxicity. We should not be tolerating any of them. We all need to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives.

To identify a toxic person, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is this person needy, clingy and always wanting you to solve their problems?

2. Is this a person who loves to complain to you but never take your advice or want to help themselves or change in any way?

3. Do you dread talking to this person or even go out of your way to try to avoid them?

4. Is this a person who tends to make you feel like your compromising your values in any way? (That can even be something seemingly minor such as as having to cover, or lie, for them)

5. Does this person seem to always find fault in others and in you but never in themselves?

6. It takes two to have a relationship. Does the relationship feel lopsided like you put in the work and effort to be a loving and loyal friend but when you need them they are nowhere to be found, have excuses or worse, put you down or ridicule you?

7. Does this person take credit for your ideas or downplay your role when it is positive?

8. Do your maturity levels match? Do they throw fits or have a short fuse?

9. Does this person have their own aspirations and goals and are they actively working towards them? Or do they seem more concerned with what you’re doing?

10. Do they respect your boundaries?

11. Does this person degrade, insult or verbally abuse you (despite the fact that they apologize or do nice things for you)?

12. Does this person undermine you and make you feel inferior for their own gain and control?

13. And the most important question to ask is: Does this person make you feel mentally, emotionally or even physically drained and stressed out?

If, by answering those questions, you’ve identified a toxic person (whether narcissistic or not) read on.

There really is only one answer to this and that is to develop BOUNDARIES.

Read my previous post here or search the internet for everything you need to know about boundaries.

No one can make you feel any emotion you don’t want to feel.

No one can make you do things you don’t want to do.

If you have anyone who is doing ANY of the above things listed in the questions, you need to rethink and tighten your boundaries.*

You have the right and power to allow or not allow any person in your life at any time.

I truly hope that someone can benefit from this post in some way. There’s no such thing as someone taking advantage of you “a little bit.” Developing healthy boundaries and adhering to them is the only way to make sure you’re not being manipulated or taken advantage of. Being willing to walk away from people is also key for your happiness and well being.

Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. You, alone, have to live your life. You, alone, know what’s best for you. Even if this person is your relative or partner, you need to be able to have the strength and confidence to walk away from any person or situation that is not for your highest good. It’s up to you to live the life you’ve imagined.

Remember, you should not have to explain or defend your boundaries to any healthy individual. If they don’t get it, that’s their problem. Again, here is my post on boundaries that may be helpful.

I believe in you.

May you be happy and well.

* For most of us, tightening our boundaries is enough. However, if you’re truly in a verbally or physically abusive relationship you will likely need more help. Please seek help to get out of that situation as soon as possible. In the US you can find help on this site or call The Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Anyone can also read this advice about getting out of an abusive relationship as I am not qualified nor is this post about that extreme form of toxicity.

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