The idea has spread that there are “toxic people”. In fact, the adjective “toxic” is now applied with great ease to any person who has difficulty in relating. In one way or another it served to exacerbate intolerance. For this reason, the time has come to clarify that in reality there are no toxic people, but toxic behaviors.
No human being can be reduced to such a general classification as “good” or “bad” and not even to such a negative appellation as “toxic”. People, as well as life, are changeable. Sometimes they allow erroneous or destructive behaviors to surface that they can even adopt for a long time. However, this does not mean that they are toxic by nature. Nobody is and this term cannot be used to define the essence of any individual.
Anyone can engage in toxic behavior, but this does not imply that they will exhibit it for life. The conduct can be oriented and transformed into constructive. In any case, it is not a “plague” to get away from, but rather the indication that the person has a problem and, therefore, is not aware of the damage it causes to himself and to others.
How are toxic behaviors
Toxic behaviors mask insecurity and low self-esteem. At the same time, they exhibit narcissistic characteristics that compensate for the lack of self-love. Furthermore, they are often accompanied by erroneous beliefs that give a false sustenance to this way of acting.
The main characteristics of toxic behaviors are:
- They manifest a desire for control. There is a strong need to control the people you love. Know everything about them. Where they are, with whom, what they do. It also manifests itself as a lifelong interest in intruding or influencing their way of being and acting.
- They make use of emotional manipulation. In toxic behaviors it is common to employ blackmail as a means for the other person to do what we want.
- They try to despise and blame. Toxic verbal conduct emphasizes the mistakes and gaps of others. Furthermore, they try to evade individual responsibility and blame others.
- They mask envy and jealousy. Toxic behaviors prevent celebrating the triumphs of others. The independence and successes of others are seen as a threat.
How to deal with toxic behaviors?
Toxic behaviors cannot be understood as something generic, applicable to any person who exhibits one or several of the characteristics reported. There are always degrees, levels and contexts. It is true that in some cases the toxic behaviors are too ingrained and in these cases there is no alternative but to move away. However, this does not mean having to segregate the other person. It is important to point out to her that the cause of the estrangement is her destructive conduct.
We see ourselves continually exposed to contradictions in the relationships we maintain with others. It is true that it is possible to achieve a balance, but it hardly happens naturally. Typically, you only get it after a good number of ups and downs. Anyone who brings gaps, fractures and inconsistencies to their relationships, it is not reasonable to evade all this, but to manage and balance it.
Dialogue will always be the privileged way to build meeting points. When a person does not engage in toxic behaviors, he has the ability to show them to those who adopt them. It also manages to limit attempts at control and invasive behaviors. If he allows them, if he promotes them, tolerates them or silences them, it means that he is within the same logic. Inside a destructive logic.
The best way to help someone who engages in toxic behaviors is to not allow them. Each constraint has rules of the game, partly explicit and partly implicit. Neither one nor the other must be allowed to tolerate manipulation, contempt and any other conduct that degrades or exploits the others. We need to eradicate toxic behaviors, not the people who exhibit them.