Maybe it was a bad day, a bad week, or a bad year, but at some point in our lives we’ve all been guilty of acting in a negative and/or damaging way. While many of us are aware enough to know when we’re visiting Toxic City and aim to re-balance ourselves, others have set up a permanent residence there and don’t even realize. Here are the most common toxic behaviors:
Taking Things Too Personally
After reading The Four Agreements, one of my biggest takeaways was to stop taking everything so personally. Others opinions of me are not my reality. Author Don Miguel Ruiz speaks in length about this, but one statement in particular stuck with me. He said, “Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me’.” The reality is that what people think about you says more about who they are than it does about who you are. People see life through their own filters, filters brought on by experiences they had way before you arrived. These are opinions, and while I don’t want you to ignore constructive criticism, I want to make it clear that the things that people may say or believe about you does not need to be internalized by you any longer. It is not your truth and it is not your responsibility to try to alter their perception. Don’t let other people’s negativity and judgment have a hold on you any longer.
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” – Harold Coffin.
Envy is a distraction, a nagging sensation, a poison that seeps in and fills you with negativity. When it lasts for longer than a split second, it can fester until it consumes your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It doesn’t have to be this way. Stop that nasty habit of comparing your life and your accomplishments to those of another. You have no idea what struggles they’ve had to push through to get where they are, to look like they do, or to be who they are. Their perceived abundance does not equate to your shortage. When you act in a jealous manner by sending out negative thoughts or spewing negative words, you are minimizing both their journey and yours. Spend less time comparing lives and more time focused on enriching your own.
Having a Victim Mentality
Why me? Why am I always getting the short end of the stick? Why am I in a loveless marriage? Why am I getting passed over on promotions? My kids hate me, but I do everything for them, everyone is so ungrateful – poor me. Cool it. Bad things happen, but the world isn’t out to get you. Don’t box yourself into the victim role. The “woe is me” complex can fuel negative thinking and cause you to essentially give up on life. Who wants to exert effort into bettering themselves if they truly believe some unknown force will eventually strike them down and destroy all of their progress? Toxic. Toxic. Toxic. Get out of that head space and reclaim your confidence. I know you’ve experienced some trauma in your life and you may have been a victim a time or two, but don’t let that define you. Do not hoard pain, no good comes from wallowing in misery. Make peace with your past and move on. Only you have the power to turn your life around.
This is the most draining of the toxic behaviors because it requires so much from others. Those caught up in constantly proving their worth and needing nonstop validation are truly exhausting to everyone as well as themselves. It is a full-time job striving for love, compliments, and proving how special you are to any and everyone. But there is so much more to life. LIVE. Living is more important than the façade of living. Life is all about the journey and growth and living in the moment. If you are feverishly taking Instagram pictures to prove that you’re having fun instead of actually having fun, you should stop and rethink your priorities.
If you have identified with any of the above behaviors, fret not, that’s the first step in recovery. Once you’re aware and accepting of your faults, then you can begin working on breaking those habits. Increase your happiness by focusing on all of the things you have to be grateful for in your life, even if it’s as simple as being grateful for the money to pay your bills this month, or to buy your family groceries. Start letting go of the negative thoughts and habits and replace them with positive ones. We all have so much to be thankful for, truly, so work on recognizing all of your blessings. I promise that life is a lot easier once you change your outlook.