Recognizing Toxic Traits in Yourself and Those Around You

toxic traits

It’s self-reflection o’clock, so stop for a moment and think about your personality. How do you feel about yourself, and more importantly, how do you think other people feel in your presence?

While your unconfident response might be “positive,” the truth is nobody’s perfect. But possessing a few undesirable traits doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person — of course, given that you’re willing to work on yourself.

For that reason, you need to at least be aware of your own shortcomings. Unfortunately, recognizing toxic traits in yourself and the people around you can sometimes be tricky.

What Are Toxic Traits?


The thing about toxic traits is that they usually come disguised. At first, you might not even notice that a person even has any flaws. But that’s quite understandable since most people want to appear better than they truly are. Especially if this friendship or relationship is new, you might still be looking at them through rose-colored glasses.

The same thing applies to developing a self-image that adequately reflects what kind of person you are. You probably tend to cut yourself some slack even more frequently than you do with other people. And that’s not surprising — rarely anyone likes to admit they aren’t flawless. Plus, it’s way more difficult to think about yourself objectively and without bias, let alone to be able to judge your own actions afterward.

Your inability to notice and act on negative behavior in yourself and others is what makes these traits so toxic. And although they’re often overlooked at first, toxic traits have direct consequences from the beginning. Those possessing them often exhibit bad behavior that negatively influences other people. A truly toxic person will either make you do wrong things or make you feel bad.

So, the thing about toxicity is that it spreads. Being around toxic people can make you question your self-worth or even destroy your personality entirely. In the best-case scenario, you simply won’t feel good around them. For that reason, we now give you a list of 6 toxic traits to look out for in other people and yourself.

What Are Some of the Most Common Toxic Traits People Have?

1. Negativity


For starters, negativity is in no way an easy trait to have. Locked inside their dark mind, a pessimistic person tends to see the worst in every situation. Their glass is always half-empty, and their world grey and pointless. And since such people are always expecting the worst, they often seem anxious, upset, or even annoyed.

You can see a negative person nag all day about the world being unfair or cruel to them. But the truth is, they rarely want to do anything about it. In most cases, these people enjoy being the victims of some unjust system they can’t escape. And it is exactly the constant complaining part of it where they feel the most at home.

But when their gloomy thoughts start spreading onto other people, this person’s pessimism becomes a toxic trait called negativity. Like a virus, it quickly infects other people and drains their energy. Being around someone negative might even have you develop anxiety or depression in the end. For that reason, steer clear of those who are looking to turn you into a pessimist.

And if you’re worried about already being one, ask yourself the following questions:

• Are you always in a bad mood because of your negative outlook on life?
• Are another person’s flaws the first thing you notice about them?
• Do other people see you as a mood-killer?

If any of your responses is affirmative, you might need to start changing your perspective. A positive mindset brings positive things, they say.

2. Gaslighting


Gaslighting is a term that psychologists use to refer to a special type of manipulation or psychological abuse. A gaslighter is an intelligent person who uses their words to make another person question their sanity. You might think someone can’t possibly make you feel this way, but the truth is, it happens gradually. And only after numerous instances of gaslighting will you even be able to notice it.

Gaslighters often show a complete disregard for other people’s thoughts and feelings. For example, they’ll tell you that you’re crazy for thinking something. They’ll also try to persuade you that your memory is false or that you’re wrong for feeling a certain way. The weapon of gaslighters is their words and their victim your sanity.

As a result, they establish an abuser-victim relationship where they have all the power. After a while, the victims start to feel anxious and confused. Thanks to the abuser’s words, they begin to question their memories, reality, and sanity. This type of abuse is common in both personal and professional relationships and happens more frequently than you’d think.

If you feel like you might unconsciously be doing it yourself, take the following test. How often do you hear yourself say these three sentences to the people around you?

• “You’re completely overreacting — that’s not how it happened.”
• “Stop taking things so personally — it was just a joke.”
• “Are you crazy? Clearly, you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

If you happen to say such things often, you might be the one whose beliefs need changing. Instead of making other people look like fools, try to acknowledge and respect even the most insignificant of feelings they might have.

3. Manipulation


When it comes to manipulation, this is one of the toxic traits that’s harder to notice. That’s because manipulative people skillfully keep it to themselves — otherwise, you might be onto them. They often develop a strategy to make you do what they want without you even being aware of it. It’s like everybody else is a puppet, and the manipulator plays with them for fun or personal gain.

Just like gaslighters, manipulators use their intelligence and slyness to make other people act exactly how they want them to. For that reason, they establish a toxic dynamic in their relationship with their victim from the start. For example, they’ll tell you numerous times how miserable you make them feel when you do this or that. It might not be obvious at first, but your actions get a lot more limited over time.

Manipulative behavior is common in many types of relationships, from emotional to business ones. But we must differentiate between harmless trickery and one of the worst toxic traits people have. For instance, parents can manipulate their young children into eating veggies, but that wouldn’t count as manipulation. To be truly manipulative means you’ll never work in the best interest of your victim.

In case you aren’t sure whether you possess this toxic trait, take a look at the following statements.

• You’ve always considered the following phrase to be true: “The end justifies the means.”
• You always get what you want.
• You sometimes think the only person you care about is yourself.

If you agree with at least one of them, you might be on your way to developing manipulative behavior. But note that you can’t be manipulative unless you want to. This toxic trait relies upon strategic thinking and comes as a result of your conscious actions.

4. Judging Other People


While this may not sound like one of the most toxic traits, being judgemental is more harmful than you’d think. Like gaslighting, judging others can have your victims doubt their feelings and character. They’ll end up believing that everything they do is wrong and that everyone else thinks so. In worst cases, these people even develop anxiety or depression thanks to constantly being judged.

The truth is, the need to question and judge other people’s actions stems from deep insecurity. So, this might only be the abuser’s defense mechanism. Unlike manipulation, which needs to be planned, being judgemental doesn’t imply that you’re aware of it. But by judging others, you unconsciously crush their character.

Faced with your judgemental remarks, some people might withdraw into themselves. They might start to believe that whatever they say or do isn’t good enough — so, why even bother? Ultimately, this can lead to their complete isolation from even the most supportive of friends and family. The funny thing is, your criticizing remarks don’t sound half as bad at first (well, at least to you).

If you think you may possess this trait without being aware of it, please read the following statements:

• You often have negative comments about someone’s appearance.
• You pride yourself on being brutally honest, but your friends don’t seem to like it.
• Your favorite pastime is gossip.

If any of these apply to you, people might consider you judgemental. So, try to leave some of your thoughts to yourself and be more considerate toward others.

5. Narcissism


Undoubtedly, narcissism is one of the worst toxic traits to have. Have you heard how accused rapists or killers almost always get tested for this trait? That’s because there seems to be a connection between narcissistic and sociopathic behavior. Because of that, you may find it pretty alarming if someone calls you a narcissist.

As before, this kind of behavior doesn’t come out of the blue. In most cases, these people will give you tons of hints that they only care about themselves. By considering themselves the smartest/prettiest ones or resorting to drastic self-absorbed actions, narcissists always show their self-centeredness. While their behavior doesn’t necessarily lead to murder, narcissists do find other ways to hurt people.

Probably the most harmless example would be someone not being able to shut up when talking about themselves. At the same time, they don’t seem to show any interest whatsoever in your stories, regardless of how good friends you are.

Like a gaslighter, a narcissist completely disregards your feelings — even your actions. You only start being interesting once you’ve proven you’re better at something than they are (if that’s even possible).

If you feel like you might be displaying narcissistic behavior at times, take the following test. Do any of these statements apply to you?

• There’s no way you can stand defeat.
• You only hang out with people you consider less attractive, intelligent, or skillful than yourself.
• You aren’t sure what empathy feels like.

If some of these statements sound like you, you might be leaning toward narcissistic behavior. But please note that even this trait represents a scale. You might only be a social media narcissist, but you still care about others.

6. Not Taking Responsibility for Your Actions


Not wanting to take responsibility for your actions means that you avoid consequences at all costs. Be it by accusing someone else, playing the victim, or lying, you always get away with stuff. While such behavior can stem from immaturity, it can also be a sign of a toxic character. As you might have guessed, refusing to take responsibility can negatively affect those around you.

For instance, you might not want to apologize for your actions or for how you made someone feel. Similarly to gaslighting, this is an obvious way of showing how little you care about other people’s feelings. For instance, imagine making someone cry and then saying: “I’m sorry, but that’s not my fault.” While that sure sounds like an apology, it’s just blaming your actions on your victim.

Also, not taking responsibility for the things you do makes you a dishonest and untrustworthy person. As a result, your friends and family might start to think twice before believing a word you say. What you say and do will soon mean so little to those around you because you never stand behind your words. The truth is, nobody likes entitled people who think no rules can ever apply to them.

If you feel like you aren’t so good at taking responsibility for your actions, here’s a way to check it. Take a look at the following statements:

• You feel like each person is responsible for their own feelings.
• You tend to lie to get out of trouble.
• Apologizing is beneath you, and you’re always looking to avoid it.

If these statements apply to you, try to take at least some responsibility for what you do. I promise it won’t hurt.

Are you willing to work on your personality and become the best version of yourself? If so, you might have found our guide to toxic traits rather helpful. Thanks to this list of undesirable habits, you’re now aware of what toxic relationships mean.

More importantly, you know how to recognize toxic behavior in yourself and others. Are you unconsciously being judgemental toward your friends? Or do you feel like someone’s only using you to get what they want? Hopefully, you’ll be able to notice these things immediately and act on them before it gets too late.

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