Identifying and Dealing with Negative People

What Is A Toxic Person

What is a toxic person? Unfortunately, they may be all around you, or even worse, you may be one. Toxic people consistently drag others down, making people feel worse about themselves for apparently no other reason than the satisfaction of doing so, and they may be overly needy, not caring about anyone other than themselves.

The first question to ask yourself is – do I make others feel better or worse after spending time with them? You might also turn it around and ask the same question regarding friends, family, and others in your life. How do you feel after being with certain individuals? If you find you have always felt worse, then it may be you know someone with a toxic personality.

If you take time to look at yourself, honestly assessing your effect on others, and find you constantly bring other people down, then you might be a toxic person. If you have the forthrightness and courage to own up to it, and actually regret hurting people, then you are to be admired. You are to be applauded even more if you’re willing to correct yourself in order to become an uplifting, postitive individual, and work toward that end!

A toxic person isn’t to be confused with those who just have a bad week and temporarily cause upsets, nor are they simply fair weather friends who back off when storm clouds pop up over the horizon. While the latter may not be the best of friends, generally, they don’t mean to do others harm. They just don’t want to take on more problems – yours or anyone else’s. Other than their ducking for cover, they’re good to spend time with in pleasant conversation or on fun outings, and you can walk away afterwards feeling as though you’ve enjoyed yourself.

On the other hand, after being with a toxic person, you may feel badly about yourself, angry, and experience a multitude of other negative emotions. In short, you may come away wishing that you hadn’t seen that person at all, and sadly this can happen with casual friends and acqaintances, and with those whom you’ve somehow come to love!

What to do should you realize you’ve been keeping company with a toxic person? The best advice is to distance yourself from them even though it may pain you to do so. If you can’t find it within yourself to part with them, then you could be in for a future of low self-esteem, anger, and hurt feelings among other things. If the toxic person is someone very special to you, your relationship with them may well be an ongoing heartache full of consant yearnings of acceptance, approval, and generally wishing for returned love that never comes.

You then need to ask yourself, which is the lesser of two evils? Is it better to suffer the pain of giving up and walking away once and for all, or to hang onto the constant anguish and heartache? The initial pain of leaving usually lessens in time, where remaining in the company of a toxic person keeps tearing at open wounds as long as you’re with them.

What should you do if you realize you’re a toxic person? Begin analyzing what it is you do and say that upsets other people, and learn to bridle your actions and words. Put yourself in other’s shoes and ask yourself if you’d like to be treated as you are treating them? If you don’t correct your behavior, you may end up a sad, lonely person once others tune into the fact you continually hurt them and make them unappy.

I am writing this out of personal experience, as I have actually walked the walk. I had to go so far as to give up my older brother – 12 years older, to be more exact. In all honesty, I can say I always adored him, and even writing this is harder than you know. I loved him with every fiber of my being, and beneath all the pain he’s caused, I still do, but I had to put distance between him and myself.

It took me many years to realize the terrible effect he had on me whenever I was around him. As the old saying goes, “Love is blind.” He was friendly, but condescending at the same time. He said and did subtle things that cut to the core and he seemed to take pleasure in them. In short, he delighted in making me feel less, and himself more, at my expense.

For years I refused to give up on him, and kept bouncing back much as a friendly puppy might after being kicked, only hoping for acceptance and perhaps an occasional pat on the head. I let him know how much I cared for him, and was given another kick each time.

The end came during a phone conversation when he told me, “You were considered an interloper.” He was referring to my being born into the family. That, and his remark that the only reason Mom and Dad had me was because they were having marital problems and Dad was trying to make sure Mom wouldn’t leave him, were the final straws.

There is only so much a person can take – only so much a person can bounce back from, and he hit my limit. Where I’m certain he expected me to continue chasing after him, I haven’t. Yes, it hurts to think I may never see my brother again though he lives only 60 miles away, but the many years of pain from his emotional barbs needed to end.

His toxic ways have robbed him of getting to know his niece and nephews. Though they are adults living as neighbors near my husband and me, they, too, shy away from him knowing his nature. He has also denied himself the privilege and pleasure of knowing his great nieces and nephews, some of whom he’s never laid eyes on though we all live within an hour’s drive of his home. Interestingly, he hasn’t visited us either, though the highway runs both ways.

Now, another question comes to mind. What should you do if someone you know has a toxic person in their life, and it’s bothering you to see them brought low by that individual?

Usually, the worst thing you can do is speak against the toxic person. As with many of us, it may well be your friend’s nature to defend them, making excuses for him or her, and even may expect them to change, which is most doubtful. To deride toxic individuals to others will hardly ever set well, and may spoil any positive influence you might have.

It is my opinion that the best stance is to be there for them, and though not easy at times, be a good listener. Let them talk about their toxic friend, family member, or whomever, and the negative effects they are experiencing.

Once it’s clear that they are indeed in a toxic relationship, it might help to indirectly teach them about such people. By indirectly, I mean simply present the information to give them the necessary skills to identify the signs and symptoms of toxic behavior, and the effects they have on others. This may be done through personal experience as I’m doing here, or through experiences of other people. You might even bring up the topic during a general conversation by telling them you read an interesting article about it. Done properly, it will in no way point an accusing finger at the toxic person in question, but will hopefully enable the victim to recognize what is happening in their own relationship and allow them to make educated decisions as to how best to deal with it.

It is my sincere hope that should you find you are a toxic person, you will reconsider your actions not only for the sake of those around you, but for your own benefit as well. And I also hope for the rest of you, that you’re spared the pain of toxic relationships, though they aren’t uncommon. Either way, whether you are a toxic person, or are the victim of one, understanding is the beginning of change.