When we talk about toxic people, we are not labelling them but their behaviour. As such, these behaviours are probably the result of past traumas, problems or disorders that the person is experiencing or has dealt with in the past. This does not mean that toxic people are doomed and non-retrievable from their negative energy. They can always learn, change and adopt a more positive mindset.
It means, whether you are the toxic person or someone around you is, that toxicity itself is not a disease but an attitude that hides a trigger or horrible experience the person may have lived.
It can probably change for the better but the source of that negativity will need to be unravelled and resolved, through analysis, therapy and a process of re-education, sometimes. Then only, we can say that it will beneficial for the well-being of the suffering person and those around them.
Different types of toxic people:
Having said this, however, it is possible to identify certain types of toxic people, who display different types of easily recognisable negative behaviours. We can do that based on the assumption that toxic people are mainly characterised by a total lack of empathy, for their social environment.
A toxic person may exhibit all or only some of these attitudes: in any case, there is a clear sign that they are negative. As always, it should be emphasised that this type of attitude is toxic because they make others and themselves feel bad. And although it is important to consider improving one’s attitude, thinking and life philosophy to help them become better people, there’s no guarantee they will.
Few signs to recognise toxic negativity in people:
For someone pessimistic, life is always bleak and sad. No matter where they’re at in life, no matter what’s going great for them, pessimistic people are only going to curse their soul, others and everything their eyes fall on.
Problems of all types, and even the smallest inconvenience seem like a complete tragedy to this type of person. They may actually want to make you feel bad too about anything and everything around them, which will affect you and leave an impact on your mental health too.
Unfortunately, this type of behaviour can be contaminating and it is better to leave negative people that are so pessimistic alone and only with their own selves to criticise. Because let’s be honest, chances are they’re going to talk badly of you too, since nothing pleases them in life, and that would happen the moment you turn your back.
They’re draining in negativity and live in negativity that only attracts more negativity. So, good luck to them!
2) The victim mindset:
Someone with a victim mindset feels that the entire world is against them and that bad life situations are only trapping them more and more. They feel powerless in the face of life and events and constantly complain about their miserable life, past, and present and even expect the worse regarding the future.
People with a victim mindset can be thought of as close siblings or relatives of the pessimistic ones. Victimisation makes the person dependent on others, while still viewing them as being responsible for their misfortunes. What matters is that it’s never their fault. It’s always someone’s fault.
They constantly find a hidden monster to blame, for all their life problems and misery. It is never their fault or mistake. Playing the victim card can also be associated with forms of egocentricity and an inability to take responsibility. Everything is always the fault of others, but never the person in question.
3) Rude, impolite and mean people:
A rude person is someone with absolutely no empathy, and who does not understand how their sentences and free cruelty or wrong can hurt others. This attitude is also related to egocentricity when the unpleasant and rude person lacks empathy and cannot understand the reasons why someone would put them in their place.
Their words will never be encouraging or good and if asked for advice, they will always tend to mislead others on purpose. Sometimes, they make fun of others’ capabilities to discourage them from making any positive change.
4) Manipulative people:
There are different types of manipulation and different levels of being a manipulative person. All manipulators have in common that they are deeply selfish and want to manipulate others to achieve their goals. This is why you need to learn to deal with manipulative people.
But they do this in a subtle and hidden way, to ensure that the other person does not notice the abuse and to avoid revealing their true intentions. They normally try to take advantage of the other person by gradually destroying their self-esteem and creating forms of dependency, so that the other person cannot discern the true reality of the situation.
These types of people can be particularly dangerous, as they can cause psychological damage to those around them. Many manipulative people can also mask certain types of issues they have, such as perverse narcissism.
5) Low self-esteem:
Another characteristic of toxic people is that they have low self-esteem and seek confirmation from others. For this reason, very often those who adopt toxic and negative behaviours can often use social networks and comments and like to measure their success through them.
Through this behaviour, the toxic person seeks the approval of others to build their identity. Obviously, self-esteem cannot come from the outside or from comments on social networks but must be built from the inside with the love and support of people who love us.
Some people with low self-esteem will on purpose talk bad about their life or situation, even when they know they have it better than you. That’s only to make you give them compliments and try to convince them they’re wrong or to make you complain about your own situations, which is ten times worse. That’s because it secretly makes them feel great about themselves; to know how miserable you are.
Building our self-esteem through the comments of others is like building a crystal castle that can shatter at the first jolt.
How to deal with or get away from toxic people?
Limiting or chasing away toxic people is not as easy as it seems, because very often they are people we love. It is important to learn how to recognise toxic behaviour, and to implement defensive strategies that help us not to succumb to their attitude. Let’s take a closer look.
-Cognitive empathy and emotions:
Encountering a negative, manipulative or victimised person is likely to be very stressful and confusing: you will need a good deal of emotional intelligence and cognitive empathy to deal with it.
In this sense, it will be important to manage emotions better and not get too involved, this will stop you from falling back into the patterns that the toxic person set up.
For this reason, we also talk about cognitive empathy as a method to understand the mechanisms underlying the reasoning of the person in front of us. This can be done without getting carried away by emotions, to help us truly understand what is happening and what are the dynamics and motivations that trigger the person’s negativity.
Negative people always try to complicate things, argue and manipulate reality, provoking the other person as much as they can. It is important not to provoke them or trigger the toxic behaviour, nor to test them out to confirm their toxicity.
-Not getting involved:
As said before, it is important not to get involved with this type of people, entertain them much or try to make any type of commitment with them. As they can be contagious and you could catch the toxic behaviour, thinking and mindset from them without even noticing it.
In fact, there are theories on how your thoughts can materialise and impact your reality, this way you can opt for a positive mindset and have a better reality and future.
Do not fall into the trap of a toxic person’s provocations, which will sometimes try to highlight all your faults to mock you either directly or indirectly. Instead, try to hold onto your own ideas and opinions and don’t let your identity get affected.
-Solutions, not problems:
In the relationship dynamic, try to shift the focus of the conversation to solutions, rather than problems. Toxic people tend to focus only on problems as they feed on negativity. A good defence is to offer solutions instead of focusing only on the negative aspects.
Setting boundaries is important to avoid being overwhelmed. For example, if the person is not listening to you, ask them to respect you, your time, the attention you give them and your energy and listen to you until the end.
Learn to say “no” to situations or relationships that you don’t want to keep because this is the only option to protect yourself. Not everyone needs to have a place in your life.
Although toxic people are negative and burdensome, they are very often so because they are going through a bad time or because they feel weak and vulnerable. In the face of their aggression, it is helpful to analyse the source or trigger that makes them act that way and to try to understand them.
This does not mean you can let them absorb you in their toxicity and with their demons, but trying to explain to them what they are doing and why it is wrong is primordial. If they don’t understand, getting away from them may be the solution. This is why trying to communicate first is important, perhaps you could even recommend a therapeutic route. If they’re in denial, then move on.
In all cases, professional help can be a good option: working on assertiveness and learning to manage negative emotions, can help these people and victims of toxic people to find a new balanced and peaceful life.