I wrote this article for Wear Your Voice. The link to the article is below where you can also subscribe to their website –
In one of my darkest periods, some of my friends chose to cut me off. Looking back, I don’t blame them. Some might think they were selfish, when I look back, I agree with their choice.
At that particular time, you could say I was a toxic person. I wasn’t necessarily to blame for what I went through, but it wasn’t the fault of my friends and family. And yet I took my anger out on them.
I would expect people to drop everything so I could rehash the same story. If their advice wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I would become defensive and cut the conversation short. I didn’t care how they were doing. It was all about me — and not in a good way.
It took a long time for me to work my way through everything. It was something I had to do on my own. I had to make my own way, learn to figure out which paths to take. I had to stop burdening other people. I had to change a little bit of myself at a time. I had to stop being mad at the world and teach myself how to live with gratitude and positivity.
Related: 10 Ways to Rediscover (and Love) Yourself
I also had to realize that friendship could not be on my terms only. Although I used to be a toxic person, now I won’t tolerate those who are toxic and demand attention.
Over the years I have also experienced toxic working environments. I have learned that how I respond and react to these environments affects how toxic the situation can become.
These days, my anxiety antenna instantly goes up at the first sign of anything negative or stressful. I will nip it in the bud. I have learned how to protect myself from these situations.
Throughout life we continue to grow. We become better people. Our tolerance for bullshit is not as high as it once was. We shouldn’t have to put up with unnecessary drama. Anything toxic needs to go, including relationships and environments.
Here are some examples:
How often do you drop everything for someone who doesn’t appreciate it? How often has this particular person let you down? How many times have you vowed that this will be their last chance? How often do they phone you at an unreasonable hour to thanklessly monopolize your time?
Yes, we can practice being kind and positive. We can be patient and understanding — but if a particular person causes you unnecessary stress and drama you have to let them go. We have to set boundaries and be realistic about what we want from a friendship and how long we are prepared to allow toxic people to monopolize our lives.
A relationship is like a bridge. If both parties are not giving equal amounts, the bridge won’t meet in the middle. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you need to take a step back to analyze the situation. We need to protect ourselves.
People can use us as a way to offload, rant and vent. Once they have passed their negativity onto us, we are left feeling drained and deflated. They then move onto the next person. They thrive on drama. They crave validation and justification for their choices. When they don’t receive it, they move on to someone who will give them what they crave. We cannot allow ourselves to be used like this. We need to set boundaries.
Toxic people will never apologize for monopolizing your time. If you tell them you’re too busy, they will sulk and give you a guilt trip. When the tables are turned and you need advice or want to get together, they will ignore you until they need something.
We need to stop enabling and encouraging. We need to stop telling them what they want to hear. We have to let them figure things out by themselves and not allow ourselves to be picked up and dropped when it suits them.
Unfortunately, some of the most toxic people around us are family members, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with their behavior. Do not feel guilt tripped into keeping them in your lives just because they are family.
Toxic environments, places and situations.
People sometimes become trapped in toxic work environments because they are afraid to take that leap of faith and look for another job. They cling, hoping that things will change or return to how they used to be.
I have worked in several places over the years where I allowed myself to become a shadow of the person I once was. I would cancel vacations to help if they were short-staffed. I would take phone calls late in the evening. I would bring my work home with me. My weekends would be spent worrying about Monday morning. These experiences left me mentally and emotionally drained. Environments like this are not healthy.
Personal battles between staff and line managers can harm the productivity of the business, causing tension and leaving everyone feeling like they have to walk on eggshells.
Toxic situations make for toxic people. One way of preventing yourself from becoming a toxic person is to learn to love yourself again. You have to learn to let go. If a situation or particular place is making you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Anything toxic isn’t just dysfunctional, it is very unhealthy. We cannot prosper. After all, you cannot put a flower in toxic waste and expect it to bloom.