If you believe you're constantly surrounded by toxic people, there could be a simple answer.
“I have such bad luck. I’m sick and tired of ending up with lousy dates: they all seem to be alcoholics or having roaming eyes…”
Does this refrain sound familiar?
But wait. Who is picking these people to date? You are. We generally choose the people we want to be close to, and we most certainly choose the person we want to date and marry. The people we choose to be with reflect what’s going on in our hearts and in our psychology; if we find ourselves with “toxic” people over and over again, the reason probably lies within us.
Someone else might complain: “I work with really toxic people. If only you could see what a bad attitude they all have! They’re the worst!” Here is where you need to stop and think. We all need to be careful when thinking or saying that “everyone” is toxic because, at least in my opinion, that’s an invitation to ask ourselves: “If everywhere I go, I get along badly with everyone, which option is more likely: that everyone is wrong but me, or that I’m the problem? Could it possibly be that it’s me who is toxic? ”
Below is an invitation to discover whether or not you might be a person who has some toxic attitudes and behavior. It’s a work of real introspection that needs to be carried out with great humility. This might be painful – but very fruitful, if you’re brutally honest with yourself. If you recognize that you have two or more of these attitudes, rather than beat yourself down critically, take it as a great opportunity to improve your life and relationships.
You may be a “toxic person” if:
- You’re a very negative person. You’re one of those people who finds a problem for every solution, or who looks for the bad in the good – and the worst in the bad!
- Things have to be done as you say, and because you say so. You always need to be in control, and anyone who thwarts you… better watch out!
- You look for advice, but in the end you do what you want and you get angry – and even speak critically about others – when you don’t hear what you want to hear.
- You hardly ever accept that you’ve made a mistake or that you were wrong. And even when you do recognize it, you stand your ground.
- It’s easier for you to see the faults of others than to discover any virtue or good qualities in them.
- You seem to be in a bad mood most of the time. People tend to walk on eggshells around you, especially those closest to you.
- You love to gossip, and enjoy it even more if over coffee, at length. In fact, you like being the first to know everything about everyone and to be the herald of bad news.
- You often give your opinion without being asked for it. And when asked for advice, you hardly ever really try to understand the person’s unique situation and needs; rather, you give advice based on your own bitterness, cynicism, tastes, etc.
- You live in a constant state of dissatisfaction and complaint. Everyone is wrong except you.
- You’re always criticizing and judging the lives of others. To you, they’re all hypocrites. You’re scandalized just thinking about how bad people are – everyone but you, of course.
- You speak poorly of your spouse whenever you can and with anyone you can.
- You feel like you’re a victim of the whole world. You seek the parties who are guilty for your misfortune. Everyone has hurt you – you who are “such a good person!” Of course, once you’ve worn out people around you who have had to listen to complaint after complaint, you paint yourself as the victim again, because you haven’t realized that your attitude would even put to the test the legendary patience of long-suffering Job.
- You are a master of the art of manipulation.
- You hardly ever forgive others, and you use the memory of past offenses to emotionally blackmail, intimidate, threaten and coerce others.
- You’ve had problems with friends in almost every group you’ve interacted with throughout your life so far. But, of course, you’re convinced it’s because of them — not you.
I could go on listing attitudes that don’t add anything positive to anyone’s life. The important thing here is to recognize areas in need of growth and to do something about it – to improve.
What we see in others is often a reflection of ourselves. Let’s change that attitude of looking for and at the splinter in our brother’s eye, but not noticing the beam in our own. (cf. Mt. 7:3) Instead, let’s commit to improving our own lives, eliminating those negative attitudes that are preventing us from giving others the very best of ourselves.
You can do it! Seek help if necessary, and be docile and humble enough to accept it. Frankly, now more than ever we all need to become and continue being creators of peace in our world – and not agents of toxicity.