First, is there such a thing as toxic people? According to the Scientific American blog, there are indeed those with higher levels of dark triad traits - narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.
Allowing toxic people into our life to have an influence over us can lead to a decline in our own mental health and can have a negative impact on our own personal relationships with other people.
When looking at toxic people, it may help to identify behaviors rather than a brief definition of traits. What do those traits look like when used on others?
There are many different behaviors that, when practiced consistently, can be employed for the express purpose of ruining another person's relationships and mental health.
Always playing the victim, never taking responsibility for one's own actions, consistent projection on others of one's own flaws and mistakes, gas lighting, emotional or physically abusive behaviors, neglect or exclusion in order to manipulate others, and many more.
In order to be our best selves, it is imperative that we effectively deal with toxic people, because they are out there, oftentimes even within our own families.
So how do we deal with toxic people?
1 - Identify the toxic behaviors
In order to know whether or not someone else (or even ourselves) is the toxic person, we must first identify the toxic behaviors. If you have high enough insight to identify toxic behaviors within yourself, chances are, you are not the toxic person in the relationship. Toxic people do not try to fix their toxic behaviors. For a more extensive list of toxic behaviors, see the article A Conscious Rethink, particularly items 1 through 18. If you've identified five or more of these consistent traits in another, you are probably dealing with a toxic person.
2 - Identify the Toxic Person
Toxic people are masters at projecting their own flaws and mistakes onto other people. If you're not careful, they can convince you that you are the toxic person, and that seemingly normal behaviors or reactions are toxic to the relationship. This is just not the case, and this has to be identified.
3 - Distance Yourself from the Toxic Person
It is imperative that we distance ourselves from toxic people as soon as possible, and it's important not to make excuses to ourselves about continuing to be around them. By this time you've already probably tried, unsuccessfully, to help the other person change these behaviors. Unfortunately, we are usually unsuccessful because the other person has low insight into their own behaviors and is unable or unwilling to change them. At this point, it is pointless to try to change or influence their behaviors, and it is pointless to argue with them about these behaviors. If the toxic person is a parent, move out as soon as possible when you are of age. If the toxic person is a significant other or spouse, separate and file for divorce. If they are a boyfriend or girlfriend, break up. If they are a sibling, minimize contact. This step is important, because as human beings, our social relationships have an impact on our own mental health and well-being and if we are dealing with these negative behaviors on a daily basis, this will take a toll on our own mental health.
4 - Identify toxic behaviors before establishing a relationship with someone
This step takes a lot of discernment on your part. Toxic people can often, at the beginning of a relationship, be some of the most charming people, and it can be hard to identify those behaviors if they are being hidden near the beginning. Catch onto clues about these behaviors. Investigate their history, and be wary when a few people from the past warn you away from them.
Do you agree or disagree that there are toxic people? Have you ever had to deal with a toxic person? How did you handle it?
Many Blessings Dear Readers,