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Toxicity exists in many forms. Too often we do not realize it. Many times, we struggle to alleviate or eliminate it. Regarding toxicity, I am not speaking of pollution or diseases. I am talking about people!

For a variety of reasons, we tolerate or ignore the toxic people in our lives. When I look back over my life; I see that the main reasons I tolerated or hesitated to eliminate toxic people, were for the following reasons:

  1. The good moments made me blinded to the type of person they really were.

  2. The traumas of my life, making me emotionally and mentally raw/vulnerable, caused me to open and/or receive some that I normally would not.

  3. I was foolish enough to think that because time had passed, they had changed. Although, I have not even allowed myself the opportunity to see if there are any signs that they had changed.

In all of it, I take full accountability. I should have known better. I made exceptions because of blood, associations, or organizational affiliation. Repeated examples showed me who these people wore, and it is my fault that I did not give more weight to the signs. I am sure I am not the first nor the last. There are lessons learned and I am so much better for finally eliminating these toxic folk and individuals from my life.

Though families and relationships can feel impossibly tough at times, they were never meant to ruin. All relationships have their flaws and none of them come packaged with the permanent glow of sunlight and goodness and beautiful things. In any normal relationship there will be fights from time to time. Things will be said and done and forgiven, and occasionally rehashed at strategic moments. Toxic people thrive on control. Not the loving, healthy control that tries to keep everyone safe and happy – buckle your seatbelt, be kind, wear sunscreen – but the type that keeps people small and diminished. It is likely that toxic people learned their behavior during their own childhood, either by being exposed to the toxic behavior of others or by being overpraised without being taught the key quality of empathy.

Toxic people have a way of choosing open, kind people with beautiful, lavish hearts because these are the ones who will be more likely to fight for the relationship and less likely to abandon. Even the strongest people can find themselves in a toxic relationship but the longer they stay, the more they are likely to evolve into someone who is a smaller, less confident, more wounded version of the person they used to be.

In any healthy relationship, love is circular – when you give love, it comes back. When what comes back is scrappy, stingy intent under the guise of love, it will eventually leave you small and depleted, which falls wildly, terrifyingly short of where anyone is meant to be. The difference is that healthy families and relationships will work through the tough stuff. Unhealthy ones will blame, manipulate and lie – whatever they have to do to return things to the way they’ve always been, with the toxic person in control.

According, to Men’s Health Magazine, here are 9 signs that you are in a toxic relationship (friendship, romantic, or with family):

1. They decide/communicate what you can or can’t do

2. They aren’t encouraging you to grow as a person

3. They’re gaslighting you

4. They simply don’t respect you

5. They use things that please you as a means of manipulation

6. You feel like you can’t open up to them

7. You feel like you’re being bullied

8. They’re unwilling to compromise

9. Your parents hate them (this won’t apply if your parents are the ones that are toxic LOL)

What was eye opening to me, was when I was reading Psychology Today. They had an article that, with research, advised that there are 8 traits that toxic people all share. These are:

1. Manipulative

2. Judgmental

3. No responsibility for their feelings

4. Don’t apologize

5. Inconsistent

6. Make you prove yourself to them

7. Make you defend yourself

8. Are not caring, supportive, or interested in what’s important to you

People are not all good or all bad. People are complex. This means that even the best kind of people have the potential to be toxic to someone else. What is important is understanding what type of behavior is toxic, reflecting on your own potentially toxic behaviors, understanding that toxic relationships are everywhere, and realizing that it is possible to change those behaviors.

Sometimes it is not them; it is you. It can be hard to admit when you are the problem. To realize you have played the victim instead of analyzing why others do not want to be around you. To admit you get more out of your relationships than you give back. just because you are not toxic to one person, or in one type of relationship, does not mean you cannot be toxic in another. It is important to be sure you are being honest about your behavior and toxic tendencies in all your relationships, and not just your friendships or your romantic relationships.


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