I bet you think there aren’t any toxic people in your life, don’t you? I can almost guarantee you’re wrong.
How do I know? First, because there are lots of toxic people out there. Secondly, because the signs are clear (we’ll get to those in just a minute).
Keep in mind that you aren’t going to change these people. Partially because they don’t want to change, but also because you aren’t their therapist, and trying to help them may well just destroy you.
Now about those signs. Check out the three games below that toxic people are always playing:
Game #1: Getting and keeping control
For toxic people, the most important thing is control, of you and of the situation.
If they can get a response from you or get you to act in certain ways, they feel powerful. It makes them feel like they control you. This is exactly what they want.
Because toxic people need control, if they don’t at first get it, they’ll redouble their efforts. And if there’s a situation in their life they can’t control, they’ll be even more sure to ensure they can control you.
So watch around you: Who in your life is trying to control or manipulate you?
Whereas in a healthy relationship, you might expect someone to say something like “I have a problem with [this behavior], can we talk about it?” they’re far more likely to say things like “you can’t do anything right” so that you feel terrible.
This isn’t healthy, and you don’t want any part of it.
Game #3: Shaming
In addition to using guilt, toxic people often try to shame the people around them.
When they see you do something that could be construed as a mistake, they’re the first to pounce.
As part of this they may also use such tactics as gaslighting or disqualifying. For instance, you might say that something they said was hurtful to you. Rather than apologize or try to make amends, they’re more likely to double down and say something additionally hurtful, such as “You’re so sensitive.” By making your hurt feelings your fault, they’re making it clear that they don’t value your thoughts, opinions, or feelings.
Are these really people you want in your life?
Let’s be real: The easy answer is no. And yet we all have toxic people in our lives.
So let’s make a pact: Cut them out of your life, and I’ll do the same in mine.
When we keep these people around, we empower their shitty behavior. Let’s not do that anymore.
Try putting out that they have issues and need help, and if they’re not willing to get it, say goodbye. That’s the best way you can improve the relationships in your life, by getting rid of those toxic people currently polluting it.