I’ve learned that it’s incredibly easy to do wrong in the short time I’ve lived, but not always the busiest road is the best choice. Being a toxic person doesn’t take much effort. After all, acting selfishly sometimes seems to be more advantageous to our survival. But taking the time to uncover the root of your toxic behavior and give yourself a chance to allow the pain to mold and heal you to become a better version of yourself, that’s hard work. If you really want to create a life of abundance and happiness, the first person you must analyze deeply is you. Because maybe the most toxic person in your life is yourself.
In the following paragraphs, my goal is to share some steps that helped me recover and heal from my own toxicity. But first, I must warn you of what is coming. Taking the road less traveled is not going to be easy or pleasant. Along the way, you will meet your own demons, and you must be prepared to defeat them. You will have to allow the river to submerge you, and you will feel that its currents drown you, but do not lose hope because when you finally wake up in the sand, you will be clean. Let’s check them out!
So, How to Stop Being Toxic?
If you detect any similarity between your usual behavior and the characteristics discussed in the first part of this article, be humble and try to improve and change for the best. It must be taken into account that people do not acquire toxic behaviors, in general, by their own will or from consciousness. Instead, it is an intrinsic need derived from emotional emptiness or low emotional knowledge. For this reason, the attitude of wanting to improve is a significant factor in this meaningful change, which will allow you to motivate yourself to grow emotionally and learn in a new area of your life.
This learning can begin with a simple exercise: stop and do a self-criticism to detect when your behavior is excessive and how far you can go to achieve your personal satisfaction. It is likely that at first, it will be difficult for you to recognize narcissistic or selfish traits since your mental speech is formed from this attitude. But you can try to identify the signs by yourself. For example, think of a situation where you were selfish, wanted to be right, or put your wishes before others. Start a mental speech explaining what happened on that occasion. Let the cognitive speech flow, but watch it and analyze:
- How do you justify yourself?
- Who do you charge the responsibility to?
- What position do you acquire in this explanation?
When you have finished the speech, ask yourself these three above questions; if the answers are aimed at a “coherent” explanation of why you acted like this, there is likely low responsibility for yourself and your behavior. If it is difficult for you to do this exercise alone, find someone you trust to help you, ask them to listen to your speech without giving an opinion simply. After trying this exercise, you can do it again, this time questioning yourself; nothing happens to feel insecure or vulnerable. Learning to feel susceptible allows us to contact other emotional dimensions that help us grow.
We are surrounded by stimuli and beliefs that repeat to us that feeling weak or bad is something negative; in studying the human being’s emotional dimension, this belief is entirely wrong and counterproductive since emotional pain and sadness have specific functions in emotional growth. In the same way that when we break an arm, we feel pain. This alerts us that something is not right, helping us become aware of the immobilization and the need for the rest of the affected limb for its effective recovery; emotional pain acts in the same way.
When we feel weak, vulnerable, or sad, it is an indication that something is not going well, so it is healthy to give ourselves the necessary space to take care of ourselves and attend to ourselves emotionally. As we explained before, narcissistic and/or egocentric traits have fragile self-esteem sustained by external stimuli; possibly when you start to review these more internal aspects, you feel unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations that you do not know how to handle. It is positive that in the improvement process, you have real support that can transmit confidence, well-being, and emotional security. There are professionals specialized in emotions that can help you gain more confidence in yourself and knowledge of your feelings. In this case, professionals with humanistic and/or transpersonal approaches are the most appropriate to work on self-esteem and behaviors derived from the emotional world.
How Not to Be Toxic in a Relationship?
The first thing to take into account to stop being a toxic person is your behavior. Detect how you affect others and how you can improve that attitude. Attitudes can be modified little by little, with patience and being very aware of them not to repeat them. Learning to value the other person’s emotions, trying to understand and respect attitudes different from yours will make your empathy grow, and you will experience greater satisfaction with your ties. Keeping in mind that relationships with others are not to satisfy our needs, but sharing who we are will help you have a good foundation in your relationships. Something very interesting in the relationships we build is that they are usually reflections of who we are; that is, we get to have healthy and satisfying relationships when we manage to have a good relationship with ourselves.
Therefore, to learn to value emotions and respect others’ attitudes, we must first understand our own feelings and attitudes in all their facets. If you really believe that your behavior has been toxic in the past and want to improve, it is best to inform your environment about the change you wish to make. If the environment supports you and sees it as positive, it is an excellent basis to grow. If, on the contrary, there are reluctances, it is positive that you understand that when we make a change, whatever it may be, the environment to which we belong begins to change peripherally. It is not always something that everyone wants to experience.
Respecting others’ fears and their own process will allow you to focus on yours without judging others. Later, it is healthy to detect your need, the root of that behavior, and what you are looking for in others. Knowing this will help you to be able to satisfy it in a healthier way and from you. These processes are never quick or easy, but we can modify them and grow emotionally the moment we can detect them. Remember that emotional processes are complicated, and learning to ask for help is a sign of commitment and self-love.