Short-tempered, impatient and easily frustrated by external factors which results in me taking my mood out on those closest to me. These are just a few of my toxic traits, and damn it feels good to be able to identify and take ownership of them. Truth is we have all been toxic to someone at some point in our lives but may not even realise it. Most of us don’t intentionally set out to hurt people, we just lack the self-awareness to be able to recognise it as it happens.
If you asked me my toxic traits a few months ago, I would have struggled to answer, as I was so consumed by those of my partner. It’s so easy to list negative behaviour patterns in others but owning our own is not so easy.
We’ve all had failed relationships or friendships in the past and when asked the reason for why things ended, I can guarantee most of us listed the things the other person has done wrong but what about what we contributed to the downfall of the relationship?
Of course, some relationships end due to the other person being emotionally and physically abusive and you are in no way to blame for that, such behaviours are inexcusable.
My goal for this post is to help those willing to change become more self-aware and actively begin working on their toxic traits.
Reflection is super important and I believe it’s where your journey starts. In order to make a change, you need to understand where these behaviours stem from. There are many reasons why we may adopt toxic traits, it can be past hurt, trauma or learnt behaviour. However, regardless of the reason, we need to actively start working on them. Reflecting and taking time to check in with yourself is where real growth happens.
A great reflection exercise is to look back at situations and see what you could’ve done differently to achieve a more positive outcome. Ask yourself, how did I respond when the situation occurred? What was my body language? What words and tone did I use?
This will help you to take necessary steps to avoid a similar situation repeating itself; just making a few adjustments can make it a huge change.
Let me start by saying this, no one is perfect and we all occasionally f up! The problem is, not many hold their hands up and take ownership of what they’ve done wrong in the situation. Part of emotional maturity is looking inwards at our selves and identifying our contributions to a particular scenario.
Taking accountability and recognising the part you played is essential, after all, If you don’t see anything wrong with what you’ve done, how can you make a change?
When taking accountability it’s also important to focus solely on YOU. Although you may think you are not to blame for an entire situation acknowledging your role is what will help you to have more success and build healthier relationships in the future. The external factors don’t matter, what matters is how you change yourself. Remember, you don’t have the power to change another human being, that’s on them!
Focusing on yourself is super important and should take major priority in your life. Our emotional and mental wellbeing plays a big role in our everyday lives, so making sure we take the steps to feel the best we can has the ability to change the way we may react or handle a situation.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I tend to wind myself up about external factors and then take my frustrations out on others. I’ve made a conscious effort to read self-help books, meditate and have hot baths with candles when I feel myself getting stressed. It makes a huge difference.
Spending time with yourself helps you to recognise your triggers which in turn helps you to understand what you need to do to better control and put a stop to these behaviours. I love the fact that I’ve started to understand what calms me down or helps me to feel balanced. I can already see the changes in my personal relationships.
Ask those closest to you
This suggestion will not work for everyone but I found it worked for my partner and I. It of course doesn’t have to be a partner, it can be a close friend or family member. We often ask ourselves ‘what can I work on?’
Let me be honest when he first highlighted my toxic traits I was far from impressed and went into defensive mode, no one wants to hear negative things being said about them. Nevertheless, upon reflection, it was a great thing to do. We often don’t see the negative behaviours we put out there but those who experience it first-hand do. I found that when we communicated it and agreed to actively work on it, there was someone else except myself to be accountable to.
We are all imperfect beings but we have the potential to be a positive force in both our own lives and those around us. Once we take ownership or our actions we can begin to make a change.
It’s hard to accept we have been a negative force at any point in anyone’s life, so learning to forgive ourselves is crucial.
We are human beings and we are allowed to make mistakes, how we learn from it and deal with future situations is what matters.