Toxicity in a person can be defined as behaviour that may harm others or even themselves. Therefore, given the wide array of experiences life has to offer, it may be safe to assume that almost all of us have dealt with toxic people at one point or another. It may be a friend, a significant other, a family member, a teacher etc., which proves that it is hard to evade toxicity in life. As a result, we end up having a lot to say regarding this subject matter and how it has affected us. However, what can be done if you yourself are the toxic one?
Identifying toxic or problematic traits in ourselves can be quite difficult as we view the world mainly through our own limited perception. This hinders our ability to be mindful of our words and actions, which ultimately leads to the development of negative behavioural traits. As every human being is their own unique person, the manifestation of toxicity in individuals does not follow a strict pattern or shape. Sometimes these traits can make us wound the mental well-being of those surrounding us; sometimes the damage we inflict is upon ourselves.
Building upon the previous point, it should be noted that developing these damaging attributes can happen to any of us for a multitude of different reasons stemming from various upbringings. But acknowledging them is not a shameful matter, rather it is the key to self-improvement. As an example from my own life experience, I can say that growing up, I’ve always thought of myself as a decent person. I wasn’t necessarily the best but I was most definitely not the worst. However, I started thinking I didn’t deserve any of the negativity that afflicted me. This way of thinking quickly snowballed and affected my behaviour with others very deeply. I always thought I was always in the right and my apologies were always sprinkled with a dose of self-victimisation without any intention to actually make amends. It took me a long time to realise what I was doing and even longer to mend my ways. But at the end of the day, there was still improvement after acknowledgement.
If you can find yourself relating to any of the things mentioned above, you should be mindful of one thing: you’re not toxic, but some bits of your behaviour may be. The toxicity a person may exhibit does not define the entirety of their being, just a reflection of the traumas/negativity that the person themselves had to experience. However, that merely provides an explanation and not an excuse. In situations like this, introspection and compassion for yourself are your best friends. Not only will they open the door for self-improvement, they will help to usher in a healthier way of living as well. Even if you think you may have passed the point of no return, tell yourself that you can build a future with healthier relationships for yourself.
Finally, always remember that there is time.
Fatima Jahan Ena considers herself to be a chaotically neutral egg with feelings. Fight her at firstname.lastname@example.org