Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
Throughout our journey in life, not all people that we meet are going to be pleasant. There will be moments where you cross paths with people that emit toxicity, whether it’s due to unfortunate circumstances, clashing personalities, or conflict of interest. When dealing with these kinds of people, instead of wasting energy talking to them, some of us might choose to walk away from the situation as soon as we can.
But what happens when the toxicity comes from ourselves?
First thing first, let’s take a look at what could potentially cause us to harbor toxic traits. Perpetua Neo, a clinical psychology doctor, once wrote in an article that humans are “fundamentally copycats”, and therefore would mimic the behaviors displayed around us. As humans who will inevitably go through the ups and downs of life, perhaps we were once exposed to a toxic environment at some point in our lives and acted accordingly.
But having toxic traits, whether or not it was developed unintentionally, will only hinder our growth and cause disturbances in all aspects of our lives. It can affect our relationships, our professional or academic performance, and even the view we have on ourselves. This is why it’s important for us to take a step back and observe our behaviors. Identifying our own toxic traits and which areas of us need healing is vital to our growth and our continuous well-being.
After all, the person we’ll spend the rest of our lives with is ourselves. What good will removing toxic situations and people do if the toxicity comes from inward?
There are a plethora of toxic traits we might accidentally cultivate over time. It’s impossible to list all of them, so in this article, let’s take a look at some of the most common toxic traits you need to look out for!
Does this situation feel familiar: you just graduated, but instead of cherishing your accomplishments, you whine about how you have to find a job soon. Or, your older sibling just got married, but instead of celebrating the occasion, you scowl and dread it because you can already imagine your relatives asking when’s your turn?
Being upset over an inconvenience and having worries and concerns about the future is normal. But constantly bemoaning everything that happens, no matter how good or joyous, might be a sign that you’re a negative person who can’t appreciate the things in your life. While negativity can be a defense mechanism (perhaps you were hurt and let down once and as a result, you don’t want to set any expectations at all), perpetually being negative can affect your life and your relationship and develop as a part of your personality.
Toxic positivity isn’t good either, so being positive all the time isn’t the goal here. But whenever you catch yourself being negative, it might be good to simply assess the situation and ask yourself: Is this really just a minor inconvenience? Or do I have another underlying issue going on?
If you have a habit of judging or making fun of others for the way they live their lives, beware. That might be your insecurity creeping in, festering itself into your brain as you try to convince yourself that if you point out the flaws in other people, then maybe people won’t see your flaws and you wouldn’t feel so bad about yourself.
Well, it doesn’t work like that. Being openly judgemental towards another person says more about you than about the other person. Having standards and being critical towards the people you’re interacting with is another thing, but if you constantly judge others for the decisions they make that don’t even concern you, then that’s an issue you have to fix. Nursing judgemental behavior, whether it’s under the pretense of julid or anything else, is the same thing as nursing your own insecurity.
Remember, genuinely happy people don’t concern themselves with other people’s lives—they have their own life to live. The next time you catch yourself unreasonably judging people, ask yourself: What’s the reason behind my discomfort while watching that person live their lives? Was that me talking, or was that my own insecurity projecting itself? And the most important question: Does this even have anything to do with me? If not, it’s best to simply move on.
Have you ever heard or said these phrases?
- “Relax, that was just a joke. Don’t be too sensitive!”
- “You’re overreacting, it’s not that big of a deal.”
- “Why are you getting so upset? You’re too emotional.”
Then unfortunately, one way or another, you’ve been involved in an action called gaslighting. Gaslighting is incredibly toxic, as it invalidates your feelings towards something that’s important to them, even if it’s not important to other people or is seen as a “joke” (news flash: if it hurts people, it’s not a joke anymore).
It’s easy to accidentally gaslight someone, especially if we don’t know the other person well and therefore have no idea where they’re coming from and what’s important to them. But that doesn’t make this action justifiable! You still need to hold yourself accountable and acknowledge if what you said hurt people. Apologize, and try to avoid these phrases altogether, next time. Even if it looks silly to you, it may be important to the other person.
Did you see yourself while reading through that list? Did you feel called out? Don’t fret—that’s actually a good thing! That means you’ve completed the first step to dissipating toxicity from yourself: having self-awareness.
Here’s a little secret: everyone possessed toxic traits at some point in their lives, no matter how good or positive they might appear. What matters is how we acknowledge that toxicity and what we do to better ourselves.
Removing toxic traits from ourselves is not easy; it’s going to take lots of work, a great deal of patience from your side, not to mention that you will probably slip up and stumble every once in a while. But it’s possible! You can start by doing self-reflection and practicing self-compassion. Oftentimes, toxicity stems from other internal problems, be it our own insecurity, jealousy, or other factors, so it might be good to look inward and assess your own issues first.
And remember: everyone deserves forgiveness and redemptions. Everyone deserves to find peace within themselves. Including you! It’s okay to be happy, as much as it’s okay to be sad.
Hang in there, and good luck!
Neo, P. (2021). Are You The Toxic Person In Your Life?. mindbodygreen. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/toxic-relationships-are-you-toxic-person-in-your-life.