12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

Your behavior is a little thing that makes a big difference.

In our line of work, Angel and I hear from hundreds of coaching clients every month.  Through this experience, we’ve come across scores of toxic behaviors that push people away from each other.  And we’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, to personal and professional growth, and to the general well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.

Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another.  None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.

The twelve most common toxic behaviors we see are:

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  1. Being envious of everyone else. – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you.  Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior.  So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s.  Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
  2. Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them.  The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you.  People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and experiences.  Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, is more about them.  I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback.  I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally.  In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.  (Read The Four Agreements.)
  3. Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization.  Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck.  Working as a life coach with people who have suffered major trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know we all have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe.  When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a helpless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.
  4. Hoarding pain and loss. – One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss.  Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go.  But oftentimes letting go is the healthiest path forward.  It clears out toxic thoughts from the past.  You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you.  Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus your thoughts, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster.
  5. Obsessive negative thinking. – It’s very hard to be around people who refuse to let go of negativity – when they ruminate and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the scorns they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life.  These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening.  Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in a negative mindset is another.  Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a twisted way of thinking and living, and you can change that.
  6. Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you.  We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem.  Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor.  If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing your cool at every turn, you may need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your inner angst.  There’s more to it than what appears on the surface.  An independent perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  7. Making superficial judgments about others. – Don’t always judge a person by what they show you.  Remember, what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you, or what they were driven to show based on their inner stress and pain.  Alas, when another person tries to make you suffer in some small way, it is usually because they suffer deep within themselves.  Their suffering is simply spilling over.  They do not need punishment or ridicule, they need help.  If you can’t help them, let them be.
  8. Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others.  We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can.  They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield.  Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well.  If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks.  Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all in this together.
  9. Cheating and cutting moral corners simply because you can. – Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse!  If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool.  Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved.  Be bigger than that.  Don’t do immoral things simply because you can.  Don’t cheat.  Be honest with yourself and everyone else.  Do the right thing.  Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
  10. Hiding your truth. – People cannot connect with you if you’re constantly trying to hide from yourself.  And this becomes a truly toxic situation the minute they become attached to your false persona.  So remember, no matter what age, race, sex, or sexuality you are, underneath all your external decorations you are a pure, beautiful being – each and every one of us are.  We each have light to shine, and missions to accomplish.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side, your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are.  Don’t deny yourself, improve yourself.  (Read The Untethered Soul.)
  11. Needing constant validation. – People who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around.  Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to win over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining.  Know this.  Over-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down.  There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses.  It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.
  12. Being a stubborn perfectionist. – As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection.  We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend or lover.  The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state.  Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing.  What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow – that perfect house, job, friend or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection.  But with a little patience and an open mind, over time, that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home.  That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career.  That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on.  And that imperfect lover evolves into a reliable lifelong companion.  It’s just a matter of letting perfectionism GO.

The floor is yours…

If you can relate to any of these toxic behaviors, remember, you are not alone.  We all have unhealthy personalities buried deep within us that have the potential to sneak up on us sometimes.  As stated above, the key is awareness – recognizing these behaviors and stopping them in their tracks.

So, what toxic behaviors (or mood swings) sometimes sneak up on you?  What toxic behaviors push you away from others?  How do you cope?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

This article was co-written by Marc and Angel and Kathy Caprino, and inspired by Kathy’s insightful work which can be found here.

Photo by: Brett Arthur Donar

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Comments

  1. Nils Paladau says

    This comprehensive list is a rundown of the behavior that essentially makes us human, frail, mistake prone and NORMAL. The article points out the foibles of what it means to be human but fails to include the most important goal (may I even call it a gift) for ourselves and others – FORGIVENESS. To start the process of becoming our best selves, for ourselves and others, by not driving others away is to forgive. To forgive ourselves when we have not measured up and forgive others who have failed us. Before spending a single minute ‘working on’ ridding myself of any of the self destructive behaviors listed above I would rather seek the grace from within to forgive myself for any acts or attitudes that alienated me from someone wanting to become closer to me. If one truly wants to behave in a toxic fashion then refuse to forgive others for the very same acts that we perpetrate on one another daily.
    I am stressed for time so I may add more later.
    Be well.
    Nils

  2. RubySoho says

    “This comprehensive list is a rundown of the behavior that essentially makes us human, frail, mistake prone and NORMAL. The article points out the foibles of what it means to be human but fails to include the most important goal (may I even call it a gift) for ourselves and others – FORGIVENESS. ”

    I’ve recently been in a tough life transition involving a difficult new job and relocation. This has made me less available for friends and I know I haven’t been communicating very well, and unfortunately, one friend (who I considered a close friend) has not been empathetic or forgiving about this situation. I have seen the “perfectionism” the article warns about in her before in unreasonably high expectations for friendships, and that is evident in the way she has cut off contact with me despite my efforts to reach out to her and accept my responsibility after our “communication breakdown.” I know I have my flaws, and recognize that I can be difficult at times, but I am disappointed that this friend has cut me off this way. It’s not easy to make good friends as you get older (we are 30 somethingds), so you would think she would be less perfectionist and more willing to be there for her friends during trying times.

  3. Oruala says

    A lot of these behaviors can happen when a person is really badly depressed; Or going through traumatic experiences; or going through grief. They my not have a whole lot of control over these behaviors at the time. Counselling and help can only do so much. This article is interesting for those who are in their full health, but I fear that it gives other people licence to be unforgiving and cut off people who are really struggling (When cutting that person off is exactly the worst thing that you can do) (I know that the article does go deeper than this but the title of the article and the titles of the chapters seem to lack compassion in comparison to the overall meaning)

    Like Nils Paladau mentions. Forgiveness is incredibly important. Forgiving others and yourself. If you are incorrectly perceived to be behaving like this when you are not, people may cut you off. There is only so much you can do about that. All one can do is let it go, sometimes. And hope that the other partly changes their perception in the future.

  4. Samantha says

    Almost all of them ring true with me, in some small way or another, like envy I keep it hidden in my mind cause I know it’s wrong so I look at what I’m envious of and turn it into respect for the person who has what I envy. Then I work on myself to be worthy of getting what it is that I truly wish I had. But there’s one thing I do constantly in every relationship I get and I am working on stopping , it’s hard and painful to do but, every once in a while during my relationship I get supremely introverted where I don’t even want any one near me I just want to be alone and hide in a hole. Not sure why just kinda happens. But yea that’s my toxic behaviors

  5. Britney says

    My toxic trait that I need to work on is my high expectations. I expect perfection from everyone and it rolls into my business life, my friends, anyone I date.. I expect perfection which leads to disappointment. I just need to relax and be okay with imperfections.

    A trait that others have that are toxic that pushes me away is selfish people. People that don’t respect or value your time so they are always late. Or, they are so selfish that everything has to go on their schedule. That is my biggest pet peeve.

    Thanks for the good read. Much needed!

  6. Kobus says

    Hiding my truth is probably one of my biggest one although I do see myself in some of the others. Over emotional, validation, taking things to personally. I’ve came to a very hard realization in my 34 years that I have always put others happiness in front of my own and through that I’ve realized I started to compromise too much and I’ve lost sight of who I am. What bugs me is that this is no one’s fault but my own. I’ve changed and it’s time to change back. To be myself again, cause no matter what you do, you are the important one. I’ve always thought that it’s selfish to think of myself but I’m slowly realizing now that it’s the most unselfish thing I can do. “we wear masks for so long that when we take them off we take off a bit of our own skin”.

  7. Maty says

    Numbers 2 and 3: I hate whispering. I’ve got this thing where if I hear friends whispering about something I automatically assume they are making fun of me or trash talking me. Maybe this stems from being bullied in school (#4)? I’m not sure, but I know it’s neurotic and damaging to relationships.

  8. Mark says

    When my son died of cancer a few years ago I used that as an excuse to check out of life. My wife stuck with me and I am trying to get a hold of myself. This blog is helping me to get over this and back into life. I realized (finally) that I was being selfish and I had to go on with my life.

    Thanks for all the posts on your site. I try and read every one of them. It gets me thinking.

  9. Tom says

    Nice work Romina! Good comment. It’s so depressing to think how out of the moment we all have become with the amount of lazy stimulation available etc. have you ever gone back to check a locked door or car? That really annoys me!

  10. Bonny says

    Thank you for this amazing article. I struggle with a few of these toxic behaviors. One of the main ones= a perfectionist. I live in constant fear and always shoot myself down even before I’ve tried to take on a task, in fear of not being able to give it my all(comparing myself to others and their accomplishments) I am indecisive in what I like& want out of life. The fear that if I fail, it will destroy every bit of my remaining self esteem and self-worth. I’m constantly looking for validation in others to accept me and I fear of being judged. Not pretty enough, not fit enough, not educated enough. As I get older, all these behaviors seem to be getting worse. I hope I can break out of this destructive routine and start to love myself.. thanks again for this well written article. =)

  11. Cheryl McPherson says

    Wow! Great post and great comments. I too am going to take a moment and live in today rather than “running through” life because so much of this touched my heart.

    I am a psychotherapist and it is true that every human experiences some and/or all of these (and possibly other) toxic behaviours. As one commentator said we are emotional beings (even when we build up our walls). But as Marc and Angel stated we need to acknowledge and re-adjust our behaviour when necessary.

    @Val – You can definitely heal from your past traumas, it just may take some help from someone else to guide you through it. If you have tried therapy before, it may be that you did not have a therapist that was compatible with you and your needs. Yes it is true we do not work well with everyone. I always tell folks to interview their therapist and ask them important questions about who they are as a therapist and human, how and/or why they got where they are, and how do they view their own practice. If you have other questions you think are important ask, the worst they can say is that they will not answer. If they are not willing to answer your important questions then there is a possibility that you may have difficulty building a therapeutic relationship with them, which is a two way street.

    Finally, I really want to say thank you to everyone who left comments! No one flamed anyone else, everyone was self-reflective and introspective. And in some cases even posting positive feedback to specific commentators. I often find I read/view something online and then I move to the comments section and it is the MOST toxic environment. Today the comment section lifted me up as much. if not slightly more, as the original article itself. I too will be printing this and passing on to clients, colleagues, family and friends.

  12. says

    Hi, another great and awesome article. For me, it is really hard to let go, be it love, frustrations or anything that affected our life in the past but we’ve got to set ourselves free from all of these negative things. It is true indeed that it takes hard work to let go and refocus our thoughts, but as what you’ve said… It is all worth it. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Laverne says

    I recently came out of a deep depression. It only ended when a friend who seemed to have it all, committed suicide. I have struggled for years in each of the areas you mention above. My past, from a child, is so full of trauma that now that I am in my 50’s, I am still dealing with toxicity that pushes people away or places them in bondage to my need to be validated. It is sickening but I do not know how to break it. I went to seek therapy some years ago that was told that I was fine and coping well, in spite of all I have been through. After that visit, I never sought counseling again… I was not fine! However, based on Cheryl’s suggestions to Val, I may seek out a therapist again. Thank you.

  14. Michael Smith says

    Marsha Lee’s comment on envy hits home with me. I have so often felt that the experiences or advice of anyone besides myself was more valid or true, as if they had a better understanding of the world than I did. This has caused such damage in my life. Feeding 2-5, for me. It is difficult to move against this feeling, hard to convince yourself that those things aren’t true and that you can feel differently. But the work I have done so far is noticeable, and even with those days when I slide back into those holes, overall it is worth it to keep moving forward. I mean, what other choice is there, standing still or falling back is insufferable.

    Thank you for this list, and for these comments.

  15. Jeremy says

    Overall, Brilliant!
    Also, all the comments I have read, Brilliant!

    “Hiding Your Truth” hits the nail right on the head. I never knew until recently how painful it is to hide from yourself. I only found out when I stopped hiding, and realized what a relief it was.

    I have recently come out as a transvestite. This was a big deal for me, my family, and some of my friends. Some people did fade away, but the ones who were always true to me remained. For the most part, the people who went away were pretty toxic themselves in the first place. I didn’t come completely out with it for several years, because I was afraid of how people would react to a man dressed in women’s clothing and makeup. Indeed, I have been asked a few times if I had “lost a bet” or something. But for the most part, the people I meet day to day simply take it in stride, or ask polite questions. One dear old lady told me once that my nail polish looked nicer than hers!

    The point of all this is, once I had come out and fully accepted who I was, and stopped being ashamed of it, the reaction I got was almost the exact opposite of what I was expecting. People liked me more. I seemed to become more approachable. And most of all, I feel this profound sense of relief in being completely myself, and having given myself permission to be OK with it.

  16. bre says

    #6. I think past hurts have me exploding in anger sometimes. It’s not a daily thing but when it happens the guilt afterwards is almost as.bad as the anger. I’m able to go back and say sorry, but the anger sorta sneaks up on me. By the time I realize what I’m doing I’m done. The anger sorta burns it’s way through me. I truly don’t know how to stop it or why I became this way. I was always the quit one in school, never complained or got angry. My home.life was not always the best but I wasn’t beaten or anything like that. Just had parents that fought a lot and yelled. But like I said as a teenager and younger I was never the dramatic, loud, fighting type. Never asserting my will on anyone. Not sure where it all went wrong…..

  17. Jane says

    This is so timely for me. I have a sister who fits almost all of these characteristics. She does not cheat. But just this evening she started a giant fight with our other sister in front of our mother (who has a terminal illness, and thus should be able to have bigger fish to fry). Somehow my name got involved, even though I live 250 miles away from them. Now we are all left floundering in her wake, with anxiety and concern. She refuses to see that she has pushed away her family, friends, and even her daughter who hasn’t spoken to her in several weeks and even has had to go to a counselor to deal with issues stemming from their relationship. I have tried to distance myself from her, but I see her every time I go to my mother’s house. I love her, but I can’t open myself up to her abuse any more. Is there anything we can do? Please help us, I don’t want my mother to have to continue to witness this kind of anger when she is sick.

  18. Alice says

    4, 5, 10… I recently lost my brother to suicide. He left behind two beautiful children. Which changed my views on quite a few things, but not him. I looked up to him more than you could imagine. I feel this pain will never fully leave me. Sometimes I wonder if it does, it means I’ve let him go as well. Thank you for posting this, I think I can repair this before a month turns into years. If not for myself, for my amazing nephews.

  19. Annie says

    I am glad I read this blog as it has given me some clarity plus some much needed food for thought. Numbers 2 and 3 — taking everything personally and always being a victim — are stagnating my life right now. Frankly, for me they are intertwined. Because I tend to believe every rejection or rude comment is due to a personal flaw or misstep on my part, I often feel the victim of others’ misunderstanding of me and my intentions and that I must somehow fix that scenario. It is good to be reminded that, yes, folks may indeed misunderstand me, but often it’s due to their own filters through which they are viewing the world at that moment and has nothing to do with my values, goals, or dreams.

  20. Wanda says

    Sad to say that almost all of these describe who I am or was. Coincidentally on yesterday I made a vow to begin again and then I ran into this article. My behavior has destroyed my current and past love relationships, friendships, family relationships, my self-esteem, worth, value and has made me stagnant in my career. I say all that to ask now that some light has been shed on these toxic behaviors where and how do I begin to remove, demolish, destroy and change these ways? I want to know how to recognize them and instantly nip them in the bud. I am disappointed in myself that at the age of 37 I am just recognizing these things. However on the other hand I am excited for change. I am so in love right now but my actions show otherwise and I’ve pushed them away. I don’t know where to begin to heal our relationship other than to start with the change in me. Thank you for this has enlightened me and given me a new perspective to move forward in being my authentic self and not a hurt, fragile, victimizing person.

  21. Michael says

    This is a great post. I am struggling with all of these behaviours. It is a constant battle that I am losing. I wish I could turn it off and enjoy life but I can’t. I’m losing my girlfriend who I believe isn’t the problem but continue to fight and blame her for things. I can’t get a handle on any of these behaviours and I hate myself more than ever.

    I’m trying to keep it together and move forward. I will be reading this post a lot in the next few weeks, hope it helps me get a little more stable.

    Thx

  22. Marie says

    The humility & introspection of the comments following this post I find inspiring & beautiful. All the various experiences we’ve had bring us to where we are in life & that includes pain & suffering. Back in 2008/09 I had many dark, hopeless times. I didn’t think I’d ever be truly happy again, yet digging deep & reflecting on much of what is also in this post gradually changed my outlook & has made the past few years unbelievably rewarding & wonderful.

    Hang in there those who are hurting for so many understandable reasons; I believe much goodness lies ahead!

  23. Jessica says

    Number 1 might be my biggest problem. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I feel no matter how hard I try, there are some people around me who just want me to feel envious of them. I got out of an emotionally abusive relationship 2 years ago and I have been single ever since. I will be 29 soon and I don’t meet many single guys let alone date them. I am surrounded by married people who constantly ask me why I am not dating or getting married and it really hurts me.Because it isn’t like I want to be lonely for the rest of my life. It just hasn’t happened for me yet and their constant questioning and attitude like they are better than me is really very hurtful. Some days I just don’t see the point in doing anything with my life because apparently being in a relationship is the single thing that defines you.

  24. cassie says

    People who require to be in control, who don’t encourage other people, who are filled with pride and put down others to show how great they themselves are, or demand to take over a project or role to try to communicate they are better, or who won’t take constructive criticism nor compliments from any they deem inferior to themselves, or who take undeserved praise and credit – that is toxic too.

  25. says

    A friend and I just had this conversation today about being controlled by fear. I want to live fully in the moment and enlarge my box. Its knowing what to do to make your box larger. Its the courage to look at yourself and then take that leap of faith. I am working on this one as I believe I need a vision to focus on to me make this happen.

    Also, changing the way I think of myself by turning my back on my victim and fear of mentality. #Done#movingontoabetterlife.

  26. Monica says

    My ex boyfriend of 8 years was every single one of these, and then some. I saw the signs early on, but was already too deep in love. I thought I could help him. I thought he would change for me. man, was I ever dead wrong. I used to think I was the one with all the issues, cuz we all have them, I was the one who couldn’t adjust. I was too sensitive. But he would treat everyone nasty if things didn’t go his way. Blow up. Break things. Make assumptions. Lie. Name call. Makes excuses for his actions. You name it, he did it. Then try to make it ok with “I’m sorrys.” gets really old after awhile, and you stop believing anything they say. I love you means nothing. Toxic people do not realize or admit the damage they do.

  27. Beverly says

    This is an excellent article, I found myself in number 11. I have to do the best job I possibly can, I want the people I work for to know that what I do for them is because I truly care about them.

  28. Sonia says

    I think there are times when all of us have these behaviors(when we’re tired, stressed, etc).

    BUT when these behaviors happen on a regular basis it’s time to pay attention. I have a friend who is many of these traits. At first I thought it was do to some stressful situations but then I realized it was much of the time. As a friend I feel you have a right to tell a friend when it starts to feel overwhelming or like your being dumped on . If the person cries or manipulates with guilt-keep the focus…be direct without being cruel. Then keep some distance-Protect yourself . If the friendship is worth it…it will work out.

  29. Saleem says

    So true indeed. To overcome these deficiencies and weaknesses can be of great benefit for our peaceful future. Thanks for sharing. Its a reminder and a wake up call.
    Thanks with Love!

  30. says

    I can relate to a lot of these…ok all of them! My life was full of pain and suffering when the Lord came after me a decade ago. I had reasons to be envious of others. I was physically abused, sexually molested, and spiritually beaten up. I was bitter towards those who had less troubles, who could callously turn their back on me, citing the behaviors/attitudes that in this article, but overlooking the roots of those behaviors. Regardless, God called me to the church, called me to a community that I had to learn to relate to. I couldn’t afford to hold onto my envy and to sit in my wounds. If I wanted to heal, I had to do the best I could with the cards I’d been dealt. I still struggle with envy – Why ME!? – but mostly I struggle with the tension between my faithfulness in God and my questions of His goodness. That, I think, will always be a journey and a tension in this life. But, as will be healing from the wounds that led to these toxic behaviors, and as I become more mature in soul – meeting right needs in right ways – I have experienced and believe I will continue to experience greater wholeness, love, and less toxicity in my life.

  31. nyhomie21 says

    Number 11 validation. I look for this way too much from my best friend whom I teach with. I have never felt validated from my family and I look for her to make up for it. I have been aware of this for a while and am trying to work on it! Great article!

  32. Sharon says

    I engage in many of these, and try to be conscious of them. One of the things I do, which is the very thing that bugs me with others, is staying self-focused. I have to really stretch myself to just be still and listen, and not interject with the, “oh yeah, something like that happened to me…”, or suck up the other person’s time talking about myself. There needs to be a healthy mix. I’m still trying to find that balance, and I know others I am friends with do as well.

  33. Mathias Bergh says

    Great reading! I recognize myself in some of these although its hard to be self critical – I am getting better at it and this sure helps.

  34. Phil Albert says

    My biggest challenge is finding it impossible to let go of things . . . and move on. As with all instances of compulsive ruminating, you become a prisoner of your past, constantly hoping to finally re-write history and come up with a better outcome. But the only thing that’s ever going to happen is a poisoning of the life that you’re trying to live today. Learn to let go. When you can, you’ve set yourself free. What a great feeling.

  35. says

    I agree with many of these and have behaved and do behave in some of these ways… It is challenging not to be a victim when your partner is very dominant and/or inflexible , when having to stand up for yourself is daunting during decision making or just plain communicating within the relationship.

    I’m working on it , but I guess there comes a point where you have to take stock and see if you are really with the right person , especially if you keep bumping against the same issues time and time again.

  36. Gerardo says

    Another toxic habit that has hindered me is timeliness. Ultimately, I think this leads to reliability problems and being late has not been a positive thing. I’m working on it but breaking the habit has been pretty troubling.

  37. Lisa says

    I have always been the type to need constant validation. I never really understood why. I was not degraded or ridiculed in my childhood. I guess I just always wanted to please everyone and was worried my decisions might cause someone else to disapprove of me. I didn’t worry that I looked “smart” or anything… I just second guessed my opinions and decision making for some reason. I have found that time and experience has lessened this for me as I have grown more confident in my own decision making. Sometimes when I listen to my own gut, I gain more emotionally, financially etc. than if I had followed other’s suggestions. Don’t ever let someone else have that much power over you. You lose yourself confidence and do not grow. No one knows what is the “right thing” for someone else. Only you know. You will probably find that you are more capable than you realize! You are the one living your life, no one else. If you stumble and make some bad decisions, pick yourself up and learn from them. No one is perfect!

  38. DW says

    Envy and jealousy — two emotions you think will protect you, but do the opposite. Change your attitude and focus before it’s too late… whatever it is that you see lacking in your life: stop reading this and make a step in that direction NOW. Good for you! :)

  39. Mary says

    I am constantly seeking acceptance and never feeling like I got it.

    I know something wrong in my life. I have to change it.

  40. Terri Johnston says

    The one I seem to be guilty of and am currently working on with Gods help is taking everything personally. Sometimes I get easily offended with being the post that’s overlooked even for birthdays and this I let bother me, I take it on a bit of a personal dislike side, but I’m getting better, but still a long way to go. But in these early infancy stages, Gods still working on me. Its a good thing and I’m getting stronger everyday.

    Great post!

  41. LA says

    Well, that was tough. For most of my life I have lived this way, and wondered why my closest friends were my family members. I’m a fun person, I’m creative, I’m caring – why did I seem to always push people away? And then, there it was! Scrolling down the list – Every. Single. One. – was ME. We’ve recently become empty-nesters and it’s been in reflecting back on my life raising my children (what I did right, what I did “wrong”) that I’ve become more aware of my actions. Hoping it’s not “too little, too late,” I decided to make changes. Trying to let things go, trying not to care what others think, and mostly trying to not be offended by everything and everyone around me. I know what the catalyst of this lifetime of toxic behaviors was, and I know I can accept, change and move on, and be a happier and healthier person in my remaining years. The saddest part of it all, though, is seeing how I passed on these awful behaviors to some of my children. I do not want them to live with this burden – it’s not a pleasant life. I just have to find a way to bring them awareness.

  42. Lisa says

    OMG A couple of you later post-ers hit the nail head on. Except I can still be happy for others in what they get/do/accomplish in life. I too am an empty nester yet, that has been over 15 yrs! It’s like I lost me, a part of me, what I took care of, what I got up for, what I worked for, what I lived & breathed air for. Yes I have been miserable, stuck, & become that person that, in my 30’s, said that ‘I hope I never become that way’! I also ………wait- living in the past, always explaining my woes, whoa, …….. it’s hitting me. Yet I still think I’m too old to change, stop the merry-go-round & jump back into life again. Where did the time go. What impression have I left, what ……….. Yes I have a LOT of work ahead of me & I’m in therapy as it is. When the proverbial you know what hits the fan & keeps hitting it, what do you do? I stopped, that;s what I did, stopped living. Good God. Teach this old dog a new trick or three, I gotta be ready.

    Thank you!

  43. Darla Carter says

    In my life right now, I’m dealing a boyfriend whose constantly accusing me of cheating as he smoothers me, the control of my family and their lack of respect for not only me, but my kids also, and finding myself before it’s too late..I am extatic as I sit here writing this because I feel hope for myself whereas I hoard pain and loss from the past and tend to take things too personal..also feel elated to see you have advice about so much more. I try hard not judging the others I’m around in the state I’m currently in.. depression and a living arrangement I’m unable to get out from under but, there is always something I can do to change and/or help me and how I approach the situations I find myself caught up in….Thank you!

  44. Matt says

    @ Larry Hickman….. Just replace the word should with could as should implies judgement. Could on the other hand implies hope and possibility. I experimented with teenage daughter. You should clean up your room vs you could clean up your room. The difference in her response was remarkable. The same applies to ourselves.

  45. Cathy says

    This was a great article! For me, I work in a people service industry and hear and see these behaviors all the time. The obstacle is when people are too stubborn to realize they need to make a change or choice to be conscious of their behaviors pushing people away. We have older people who just refuse to change, saying things like “I’m 60 years old! I don’t need perspective!” These are the peor I have trouble leaving alone. It really hit me we. I read in this article that “if you can’t help, leave them alone.” I can’t help everyone be motivated to want to improve themselves so I just need to let it be and move on. Thank you for helping me see this! Great eye opening article!

  46. says

    Loved the article and the comments. I’m 57 this year, and feeling pretty good. Up until about 15 years ago, I had most of these problems. What changed? I had a hysterectomy. As soon as I woke up in Recovery, I was finally alive, cheerful, energetic; all the things I had not been since I hit puberty. Apparently hormones did a number on my personality. People who were used to the old me had to adjust and some didn’t take it too well since I was pretty passive before. But I’m happy now, confident, relaxed, and accepting of my faults as well as everybody else’s. I have a lot of friends nobody else can stand because their faults don’t bother me. I know some of them are due to bad health. I’m not paranoid anymore, not judgmental, not gloomy, not pessimistic, and most definitely not fearful. People ask me how I could go through breast cancer so cheerfully and all the difficulties I have been through in my life, but all I can think of is that I feel closer to God than I ever have and see Him at work every day. I am blessed and I try to spread it around.

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