6 TOXIC BEHAVIORS THAT PUSH OTHER PEOPLE AWAY FROM YOU
In our line of work, Marc and I hear from hundreds of course students every month. Through this experience, we’ve seen scores of toxic behaviors that push people away from each other. And we’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, professional success, and to the well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.
Let’s be real – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another (none of us are immune to it), but many people are more evolved, balanced, and aware, and it happens only rarely in their lives.
Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenon, it’s critical for your happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving badly, and shift it when it emerges.
The six most common toxic behaviors I see are:
1. Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them. I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide.
2. Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. 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. Working as a life coach with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.
3. Obsessive negative thinking. – It’s very hard to be around people who refuse let go of negativity – when they dwell on and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.
4. Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor. If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality. There’s more to it than what appears on the surface. An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.
5. Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can. They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield. Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well. If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all in this together.
6. Needing constant validation. – Last but not least, people who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to “win” over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining. Know this. Overly-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down. There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.