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5 Toxic Behaviours That Are Considered Normal

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What does it mean to be a toxic person? What behaviour makes a toxic person different from people who are not toxic? The word “Toxic” is oftentimes overused and misunderstood. By definition, toxic means a substance that contains poison but in social and psychological parlance, a toxic person brings harm to people around them through their words, actions or inaction.

Needy friends, manipulative partners/friends or family, lazy colleagues, and deceptive neighbours among others fall into the category of toxic people. Regardless, profiling a person or behaviour as “toxic” can be misleading and tricky. In some contexts, this person may be genuinely toxic, hurting or harming the people around them. In other contexts, they might turn out to be helpful, altruistic, and kind-hearted. Therefore, which one are they? For this reason, it is more useful not to talk about toxic people but about toxic behaviours – you know, those little things we do daily that create trouble for those living around us.

Most people pretend that only the worst, most manipulative people are guilty of toxicity but most toxic behaviours are common than most people admit. In fact, social norms do more harm than good. Society sees toxic people as villains without recognising the social and emotional toxicity that is spreading daily.

So why are some toxic behaviours considered normal? Why aren’t more people raising concerns and making efforts to change? Sadly, most people are not even aware that they are part of the problem.

If you look inward, you’ll realise that a lot of toxic traits have been normalised but let’s take a look at the downsides of toxic behaviour.

Negative Effect of Toxic Behaviours

Toxic behaviour refers to actions and attitudes that are harmful, destructive, and detrimental to individuals and the overall well-being of relationships, groups, or communities. Here are some negative effects of toxic behaviour:

  • Emotional and Psychological Impact:

Toxic behaviour can have severe emotional and psychological effects on individuals. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and self-doubt. Constant exposure to toxic behaviour can erode a person’s sense of self-worth and create a hostile and unhealthy environment.

  • Relationship Damage:

Toxic behaviour often damages relationships. It can lead to breakdowns in communication, trust, and intimacy. Toxic individuals tend to engage in manipulative tactics, such as gaslighting or constant criticism, which can cause significant harm to the people around them. Over time, toxic behaviour can isolate individuals and strain personal and professional relationships.

  • Decreased Productivity:

Toxic behaviour in the workplace can negatively impact productivity and morale. When individuals are subjected to toxic environments, they may experience increased stress, decreased motivation, and a lack of focus, which can result in decreased job satisfaction and overall performance.

  • Health Problems:

Toxic behaviour can have adverse physical health effects. Chronic stress caused by toxic relationships or environments can contribute to a range of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, weakened immune system, and sleep disturbances. The negative impact on health can be significant and may require medical intervention.

  • Spread of Toxicity:

Toxic behaviour tends to spread like a contagion. When one person engages in toxic behaviour, it can influence others to do the same, creating a cycle of negativity and dysfunction. This can lead to the deterioration of entire social groups or communities, as toxic behavior becomes normalized and accepted.

  • Hindrance to Personal Growth:

Toxic behaviour often inhibits personal growth and self-improvement. It can create an environment where individuals feel unsafe to express themselves, take risks, or pursue their goals. Toxic individuals may discourage others from pursuing their passions or belittle their achievements, leading to a stagnation of personal development.

1. Social Mask

Do you wear a social mask around other people? Most people change their personalities in different social situations. You may be a different person at work, around your friends or with your partner. You’re always switching your interests and character wherever you go, these are classical examples of social masks.

If you are used to acting around people, you are not the only one that does this. This is a common toxic behaviour with most people and it is not healthy. In fact, this makes a lot of people feel insecure about themselves. It usually feels like wearing a mask to be liked or respected, but you’re often hiding your real and best self if you do this.

2. Playing Caretaker

Do you take care of everybody’s needs before your own? For example, if you are hosting a gathering involving friends and family, you may spend the entire evening checking on your guests and preparing food and drinks. And before you become conscious of it, the party is over without you having the time to socialise, eat or even drink.

This is typically called a “good host” but the truth is, you are catering unnecessarily for the people around you. When you become someone who has the habit of catering for others, you unconsciously forget about your own needs, you forget to enjoy the fruit of your work because you’re more worried about other people and this is toxic. When you take care of other people’s needs more, you expect them to return the same gesture and if they fail to do so, you can become disappointed and irritated towards them.

3. Chasing The Spotlight

The desire and act of wanting to be the centre of attention is a toxic behaviour. A lot of young adults, base their lives around wanting to be in the spotlight but it is not always a good thing. In simple terms, chasing the spotlight often damages your self-esteem and self-worth because you want to be seen as the best.

When you depend on others for validation, you lose the ability to become happy on your own until you are praised by others. There’s nothing bad about being the centre of attention or the spotlight but seeking such external validation is more toxic than you think. You are depending on others to be happy.

4. False Entitlement

It is now normal in every society to expect a level of fairness, comfort and leeway in our lives. Even when we do wrong, we believe we deserve a second chance, when we gamble, we believe it is our right to win. We expect to beat the odds even when they are not in our favour. This sort of behaviour is unimpressive, self-destructive and toxic.

I know you expect to win always but what happens if you come short? You, like everyone, want to win always but do not put the blame on others whenever you fail to win. Do not blame anyone when you fail to win. Everybody, like you, deserves the good things in life and everyone is in the race for success like you.

If you have a false sense of entitlement, you are set up for failure and disappointment in your life. It creates an unrealistic expectation, encouraging you to expect the extraordinary. If you think you deserve more than other people, you should change your perspective.

5.  Needing to be right all the time

Needing to be right all the time is indeed a form of toxic behaviour. When someone constantly needs to be right, it often leads to communication breakdowns and relationship conflicts. This behaviour can create an environment where others feel unheard, invalidated, and dismissed. It hinders effective dialogue and problem-solving, as the focus becomes winning arguments rather than understanding different perspectives.

Constantly needing to be right can erode trust in relationships. When someone consistently dismisses or invalidates others’ viewpoints, it creates a sense of disrespect and undermines trust. Trust is crucial for healthy relationships, and it becomes challenging to foster meaningful connections when it is compromised.

Individuals who always need to be right may have difficulty receiving feedback or criticism. They may become defensive, dismissive, or even hostile when confronted with alternative viewpoints or suggestions for improvement. This resistance to feedback can hinder personal growth and development, as it prevents individuals from learning from their mistakes and adapting their behaviour.

Summary

It’s important for individuals who exhibit this behaviour to practice self-awareness and be open to self-reflection. Recognizing the negative impact of needing to be right all the time is the first step toward personal growth and developing healthier relationships. Cultivating humility, empathy, and a willingness to consider different perspectives can help mitigate the harmful effects of this toxic behaviour.

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