How to Identify Toxic People in Your Life
This month (May) brings a lot of happy anniversaries for me. On May 7th, 2018, Logan proposed to me in Iceland. On May 14th, 2018, I started my new job. In May 2014, I graduated from college and met Logan. Throughout this past year, I’ve never been more happy at any other point in my life due to the changes that I’ve made during Mays past. (I’ve also never been so stressed, but hey, that’s what happens when you get engaged, start a new job and launch a blog all within three months of each other!)
Not only did getting to plan my wedding to the man of my dreams and a job change make a significant impact on bettering my life and mood, but also deciding to be more selective with the people that I give my time and energy to.
I think back to 5(ish) years ago - my energy was being spent trying to please people that didn’t better my life. My thoughts were stuck on people who had hurt me. And my time was spent with people who put me down.
I allowed that negative energy to impact my life, self-worth and happiness for entirely too long. TBH. That’s the way I have been my entire life! I’ve always allowed myself to strive to please people that I didn’t fit in with or who, quite frankly, just didn’t enjoy my company or personality.
How did I make a change? I started to identify toxic people in my life and allow myself to stop dedicating my time and energy to them.
Listen… this doesn’t mean I sent them a breakup text or just stopped responding. There are people that are going to be in your life no matter what, and you can’t be rude and just cut them off - that’s no way to be. But it does mean that I allowed these people to stop taking up space in my valuable thoughts, stop eating up my time by making me feel anxious about being around them, and stop hurting my self-worth by me caring what they think of me.
It all started with an email (I’m trying to find out from which site to credit them, but I can’t find the old email anywhere!) that I received with a subject line along the lines of “Are Toxic People Running Your Life?” As someone who 100% believes that we manifest and control our own actions and life with our own choices, I blew it off as click-baity spam. Check -> Trash. But as soon as that unopened, bold subject line disappeared from my mailbox, someone flashed through my mind. I had been thinking about this person a lot lately, as we kept being put into the same room as of late. Those thoughts were negative, hurtful and ultimately putting me in a bad mood about myself and my life. I was questioning if I was good enough, if my life was good enough.
So I clicked into my email trash and moved the email back to my inbox. And I opened it.
The article broke down ways to identify toxic people in your life. And multiple people came to mind!
So I started doing some more research - about the impact that toxic people can have on you mentally and emotionally, how to identify toxic people in your life, how to tell if you are toxic in someone else’s life (that one was scary), how to change your toxicity, how to remove toxic people from your life, etc, etc, etc…
Ya’ll. I. WAS. SHOOK.
This whole time, I had been keeping toxic people in my life, actively seeking them out in some cases, allowing them to take up valuable space and time in my thoughts. And while, yes, we do control the outcome of our life with our own decisions, allowing that toxicity in our life, that very decision was changing outcomes as well!
I was allowing toxicity to manifest in my thoughts and turn my heart.
So I decided to start making a change.
How to Identify Toxic People in Your Life
The first step is understanding who in your life is toxic, and who isn’t. And, tbh, the true first step is being honest with yourself about if YOU are toxic to your own life and others. Below are a couple of the traits that I keep top of mind for identifying toxicity in my life.
I also want to point out, just because someone is toxic as a relationship in your life, doesn’t make that person a bad person! It just means that their values and morals are not aligned with yours, or your personalities are just not a fit together! There are some really great humans that I have met, that provide so much benefit to their friends’ and family’s lives, but they were a source of toxicity in my own. I don’t hate or dislike these people, I just now know that we were not a true match for friendship.
They don’t listen to you.
People who don’t care what is happening in your life are a source of toxicity in your life. You need and deserve people who are going to support you, care about you and want to know what is happening in your life. Plus, not listening to others is typically a sign of a self-centered person and, tbh, you don’t need that in your life.
They make you feel bad about yourself.
Listen, we all have friends that we can tease each other with. But if you are constantly the butt of someone’s jokes publicly, they aren’t just joking, they are putting you down. AND THAT’S THE TEA, SIS.
I think back to a group of friends that I was always trying to fit in with (embarrassing that I was such a try hard), and a large portion of my memories with them include them making fun of me or actively avoiding including me. These were people who were supposed to be my best friends, and I let them treat me that way?! Lol thank god for self-growth. Because crying yourself to sleep because your friends are making you feel worthless is the saddest thing ever. So if there are people who are truly making you feel as though you aren’t worth diamonds, then they aren’t your friends at all, but a big ol’ source of toxicity.
They aren’t there when you need them.
Do you have a friend that it seems as though they only want to hang out with you when it’s convenient? Or when something exciting is happening and they want to be part of it? While they may not be day-in and day-out making you feel bad, by only being there when it is convenient for them or it benefits them, they’re marking themselves as a toxic person in your life. Because when the chips are down, and you need someone, they won’t be there. And that’s going to hurt.
It feels like they always have an agenda.
Do you have someone in your life that is always wanting something from you? Or seems to use you for something in particular? I don’t hate to break it to you (because you’ll be healthier knowing), that person is manipulative and therefore a source of toxicity in your life.
Anyone who makes you question if they truly like you for you is a source of toxicity in your life, because it causes you to question your self worth. GIRL BYE.
They don’t seem sincere.
I have definitely come across those people who seem to be putting up a front in everything that they do. That they aren’t giving you their true selves. And I’m over that. I’m an absolute open book and I don’t have the time to spend trying to read someone. If you’re going to go all-in, be who you truly are and open up to someone, you deserve that to be reciprocated back to you. If they are hiding behind a persona, lies, or otherwise, that should be a warning sign that this person isn’t a source of positivity in your life.
You never get an apology.
UGH. Aren’t these people the worst? People who never take responsibility for their actions or apologize? Listen, we all have certain things that hurt our feelings, and if someone approaches you with something you did to hurt them, YOU SHOULD BE SORRY. If you aren’t, you’re a psycho. So if someone can’t simply apologize for hurting you, or for doing something wrong, then that person is a big pit of toxicity that will eat you up if you let it.
You always have to be the one to try.
Are you always the person to text first? Are you the person who constantly has to go to them? I think we’ve all had those people that, unfortunately, never make moves to actually be in your life. The ones that you’re always having to initiate a friendship with. To me, this is a sign that you aren’t top of mind for this person and, therefore, not a priority in their life. So why should you continue to prioritize them in yours?
They make you feel exhausted.
I think we can all agree, some people in life are just exhausting. It may not be that they do anything negative or hurtful to you, just that their personality doesn’t mesh with yours. And that is OKAY. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T MESH WITH SOMEONE DOESN’T MAKE THEM BAD. There are plenty of people that I’ve identified as non-beneficial to my life because I simply don’t believe in the same morals/values as them or I don’t enjoy the same things as them. Spending your energy trying to do otherwise, only creates toxicity in your life.
What To Do If Someone In Your Life Is Toxic
Like I mentioned upfront, I don’t believe that if someone in your life is toxic, you should cut them off completely and totally ghost them. By no-freaking-means do I think that is appropriate or necessary.
However, I do believe that you should be aware that they are a source of toxicity in your life and take the appropriate steps to ensure their negative impact on you doesn’t take up your time and doesn’t impact your life in a negative way.
I also believe that situations change, people change. Someone who may serve as a source of toxicity in the past may not in your future. That’s why burning bridges is unnecessary and does more harm than good.
If you’re reading through this list, and certain people come to mind, then you probably have toxic people in your life. So what now?
How to Distance Yourself from Toxic People
So you’ve identified that you have toxic people in your life. Now it’s time to stop allowing them to take up space and energy in your life. But how?
Make sure it’s for the right reasons… and not just a whim.
You never want to mark someone as toxic after a simple fight or without trying to remedy whatever is going on. I’m a huge advocate for reaching out to someone if their behavior suddenly shifts or their personality is different - chances are, something deeper is going on with them.
Take stock of the positive influences in your life and focus your time and energy towards them.
It’s hard to let go of negative things or people unless you are focused on the positive that you already have in your life, or at least the opportunity of it. However you are able to best focus on the positive - whether it is making a list or saying them out loud - do that. Let those positive people and influences sink in.
Stop spending valuable energy on toxic people.
When i’m feeling overwhelmed by toxicity in my life, whether people or situations, I now choose to start thinking about the people or situations that make me happy, reach out to those people or put myself in positive situation. This consciously removes those toxic people from my thoughts, stopping me from spending my time and anxiety on them.
Don’t re-engage, no matter how tempting it can be.
I have an old friend that we just fizzled out. And it hurt me… badly. For about two years I reached out, and felt hurt when she didn’t seem to reciprocate unless it was convenient for her. It was an endless cycle until I made a conscious decision to end it and stop reaching out.
Make new friends!
Download BumbleBFF, go out to a local event, invite your friends out and tell them to bring another friend! However you can, widen your circle of positive people that value the same things you do.
Keep it casual.
I’ve said it once (okay, more like 4 times in just this post) and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to completely cut someone out of your life! Keep it casual, girl! Having someone as an acquaintance is better than having an enemy, or hurting someone.
If someone has hurt you, it’s hard to not spend your thoughts on them. The only way to move on is to forgive them for whatever they did to bring toxicity into your life. I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “I KNOW.” But a reminder never hurts. Just remember, forgiving someone never hurts you, it frees your mind up for other, more positive thoughts.
Freeing up your time and energy but distancing yourself from toxic people can be tiring. It can feel awkward and wrong at times. But as long as you’ve truly evaluated that relationship and determined that it isn’t benefiting you emotionally or mentally, stay confident in your choice and I promise things will get better.
The world is a completely different place when you are surrounded by positive influences and relationships. New opportunities present themselves and doors open wide. I’m so excited to see what this world holds for us both when we are surrounded by people who love and support us!
Do you have someone toxic in your life? How did you identify them? Did you take steps to distance yourself from them in a healthy manner? Let me know in the comments below!