A lot of believe that love is all about accepting another person’s flaws and shortcomings. And while that’s certainly true, it doesn’t mean we should always excuse their bad behaviours, whether it’s towards us or others. There are a lot of things about other people we often “know but shouldn’t talk about.” We try not to judge them too harshly on account of their worst traits and mistakes, and choose to see the good in them, especially when it comes to the people we care about. But tolerating someone’s toxic behaviour isn’t going to make it go away – it will only make things worse.
By normalizing another person’s problematic attitudes and being so quick to forgive them for the things they do wrong, we fail to see that we are actually enabling them to keep behaving this way by refusing to speak out. And there are just some toxic behaviours you should never tolerate. Toxic behaviours are certain behaviours that are harmful to your mental health. They can drain your energy, damage your self-esteem, rob you of your happiness, and trigger feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness in you.
With that said, here are 8 behaviours you need to watch out for that make someone toxic to be around:
Sad to say, there are really some people out there who are willing to do anything to get what they want, even if it means having to hurt or take advantage of others just to get ahead. Manipulative people have lots of sneaky ways to try to exert control over you and trick you into giving in to their demands. Common tactics of emotional manipulation include: preying on your insecurities, giving you the cold shoulder, treating you with contempt, guilt tripping you, and using your good nature against you. If anyone has ever tried to manipulate you like this, you need to call them out on it instead of rationalizing their behaviour and making excuses for them.
Intimidation – be it, verbal or physical – is never okay and should never be tolerated under any circumstances. If somebody acts aggressively towards you or threatens you in any way, steer clear of them and do not engage. Because once you let them scare you, they will take away your sense of power and trap you in a vicious cycle of ridicule and abuse. If you can, reach out to somebody who can help you deal with the problem or distance yourself from this person as much as you can.
Gaslighting is a very common form of psychological manipulation that aims to make victims doubt their memory and question their own sanity. When someone gaslights you, they trick you into thinking what you remember isn’t right, deny things they’ve said or done, and even make up stories or feed you lies so you begin to feel like you can’t trust your own mind anymore. Gaslighting can rob you of your sense of control, stability, and normalcy, so don’t let yourself fall for anyone else’s mind games.
4. Excessive Negativity
Negativity can be contagious, so if you have someone in your life who’s constantly weighing you down with their pessimism and cynicism, be careful not to let them rub off on you. If you can, cut them out of your life or keep your contact to a minimum. After all, it’s hard to be happy when you’re surrounded by people who always try to drag you down. It’s emotionally exhausting to have to spend so much time with people who can’t seem to find anything positive about and spend all their time complaining about how unfair life is.
5. Constant Criticism
Do you know anyone who always seems to have a problem with the way you do things? Do they have a backhanded compliment ready for you all the time and laugh whenever you try to be nice or reach out to them in any way? Stay away from people like this. Constant criticism isn’t something you want in your life, and while it’s tempting to try and change this person’s mind about you, it’s very likely that they’re only acting that way because they’re jealous of you or want to get your attention in some way. Don’t give them the satisfaction of letting them get to you.
6. Belittling/Talking Down to You
Being around those who talk down to you and belittle your ideas, feelings, and goals is bad for your self-esteem and mental health. Don’t let anybody treat you like this. Stand up for yourself when they call you names, dismiss what you have to say, and put you down just to make them feel better about themselves. By ignoring such toxic behaviour, trying to understand it, or rationalizing it in any way (“Oh, he’s doesn’t really mean that” or “She’s just in a bad mood”) will only make things worse for you.
7. Projecting Their Feelings onto You
Toxic people don’t know how to deal with their problems or work through their emotions, so they usually take it out on other people and project their negativity on those around them. You might notice this when someone gets upset with you for no reason, treats you with sarcasm and harsh judgment all of a sudden, or even throws temper tantrums when they hear bad news. They want to make you feel just as miserable as them, and they won’t stop until they make you their psychological punching bag.
8. A Lack of Compassion
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, if someone displays a lack of compassion, then that’s a definite red flag that you might be dealing with someone beyond saving. No matter how much you call them out on it, someone who lacks compassion will never feel sorry for what they’ve done. They don’t care about the people they hurt or the wrong that they do, because they don’t have any empathy for others. They only care about themselves, so don’t waste your time trying to see the good in them and redeem them from their horrible actions.
Have you ever had any of these things happen to you? Did a certain someone come to mind while you were reading this list? Recognize the signs of a toxic person and distance yourself from them before it’s too late. Don’t waste your time trying to change them or save them from themselves, because they are not your problem to fix. Instead, focus on taking care of your own mental health and doing things that make you feel happy and emotionally fulfilled. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and let go of everything (or everyone) that’s holding you back.
- O’Moore, M., & Kirkham, C. (2001). Self-Esteem and its Relationship to Bullying Behaviour. Aggressive Behavior, 27 (4), p269-283.
- De Vries, M. F. K. (2014). Are You a Victim of the Victim Syndrome? Mindful Leadership Coaching, pp. 68-86. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
- Griffith, E. H., Baranoski, M., Dike, C. (2005). Pathological Lying Revisited. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry. 33 (3); 342-359.
- University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007 October 7). Negativity is Contagious, Study Finds. Science Daily. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004/135757.htm