Do you see that you hurt other people? Have trusted people told you that you have to change something? Do you want to know how to stop being a toxic person? If you have reached this article, it is that at some point you have asked yourself the question: “Am I toxic?” You may also come from taking the test to find out if you are a toxic person. If not, I recommend that you do so before continuing.
In short, you have come to the conclusion that you are a toxic person and need help. And now you’re wondering what do I do? In this article, you will learn how to stop being a toxic person.
How to stop being a toxic person?
The first thing you should do is congratulate yourself. You have achieved the most important step to change something in yourself: recognizing that you have a problem and that you want to change.
You have achieved something that almost nobody does. Most people prefer to stay the same. Do these phrases ring a bell?
“I am so”
«If you want me, you will bear me»
“I have always done so”
These and other phrases are defense mechanisms. They block change. Changing is a task that requires a lot of effort, perseverance and patience. It is much easier to blame others.
Things get complicated with severe personality disorders. One of the characteristics of these disorders is that they are egosyntonic. It means that they are undetectable to the person who has them.
Another example is psychopaths: they rarely know that they suffer from psychopathy. They even think they feel emotions when they are totally “immune” to them.
What do you have to do to stop being toxic?
The steps are indicative. They will help you change if you really want to. Don’t expect quick results or a panacea.
Please note that sometimes we have problems that are difficult to fix without help.
Personality disorders and toxic habits are rooted deep within the person. In psychology, the types of disorders that require longer treatment are considered.
First of all, if you are overcome and feel great discomfort in your life, I recommend that you go to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
Learn to know yourself
First step. To start changing, the first thing you need is to do a great job of self – knowledge.
Remember that you are already ahead of many people in terms of knowing you. You recognized your problem, now you just need to analyze your behaviors and thoughts well.
Isolate what toxic behaviors you have. Think about what behaviors you don’t like or consider toxic.
Write them down, take a pencil and paper and make a list of everything you want to change. The more precise you are and the better you describe each behavior, the better.
Here are some examples to help you define them.
Examples of bad behavior definition :
“I have little patience”.
“I get angry easily.”
“I keep complaining about everything.”
The problem is not clear. Information is missing. With these definitions, it will be difficult for you to clearly identify when they occur and how to change them.
Examples of good behavior definition :
“I change the subject with my parents when they tell me what bothers them about me .”
” I get angry with my partner when he meets his friends .”
” I complain to my friends when the plans that I like are not made .”
Instead, these definitions are clear and concise. With them, you can clearly isolate the problem.
Observe that they have 3 parts: What, with whom and when the behavior occurs.
Having narrowed down the problem, a mental warning light will come on every time you do one of them again.
Externalize your beliefs
With the previous step, you have defined WHAT you want to change. This part is directed to WHY you have maintained these behaviors.
At this time you should identify beliefs, thoughts, and emotions that anchor toxic behaviors. This part is the most complicated, but without it you will not be able to advance and achieve a true and lasting change.
Behind each of the behaviors you have listed in the previous step, there are thoughts, beliefs and emotions that justify them.
It may be childhood trauma, unmet needs, or beliefs you’ve learned from your parents.
All toxic behaviors are repeated again because there is something behind them that justifies it.
Therefore, changing these beliefs and thoughts is the most important part of quitting being a toxic person.
Drawing deep thoughts
In order to investigate them, you have to ask yourself the reason for each toxic behavior. Here are some examples:
“Why am I overprotecting my child?”
“Why am I trying to blame others for everything that happens to me?”
Why am I depressed about my past?
Answer yourself honestly. Gradually dig into your questions until you get to the root of the problem.
If you come to a conclusion that doesn’t convince you, ask why again. For example:
Question 1: “Why am I overprotecting my child?”
Answer 1: Because I don’t want harm done.
Question 2: Why do I not want harm done?
Answer 2: Because I am afraid that something bad will happen to him.
With this progression, the justification of the behavior is reached. The more questions you ask yourself, the more you will deepen and, therefore, the more you will know yourself. In the example, the mother overprotects her child because she has unwarranted fear and concern.
When you get to justification, you discover the real reason for your toxic behaviors.
Once you have all the justifications you give for your actions, you have to ask yourself these questions for each of them:
Is your justification based on a fact or is it caused solely by your thoughts and emotions?
Is maintaining this justification beneficial to you or to others?
What other alternative is there to justify?
With these questions, you will get to appreciate how irrational your beliefs were. You will see that they are not beneficial to anyone and you will get alternatives more adapted to reality.
Make a plan
Now you know yourself as if you had given birth. It’s time to take action.
You have to decide what actions you are going to do to change.
Again, try to be very specific. Here are some examples of behaviors in an action plan:
– If you are an overprotective mother, an action in your action plan could be:
“I am going to allow my son to hang out with his friends twice a week late.”
– If you think your partner is to blame for your sadness, an action in your plan could be:
When I blame my partner for my sadness, I will think that I am the owner of my emotions. I can change my mood and I am responsible for my feelings.
With this, you will create a list of behaviors and thoughts that are alternative to the toxic habits and behaviors that you want to change. This way you will have the marked path to achieve change.
Here you have to be constant and patient. You will return to committing your toxic behaviors, but you should not be discouraged. Little by little, new behaviors will make their way into your personality.
One tool to help you change is visualization. Take a few minutes a day to imagine what you want to be like. Imagine yourself with many details, performing those actions that you want to be of your new healthy personality.
Imagine how you would behave, what your non-verbal language would look like, what your appearance would be like, how you would feel, etc. The more details the better. This technique will help you unconsciously get closer to being the way you want to be.
In order to change you need time. You have to think about yourself and be with yourself.
You only need a few minutes each day to make changes and improve your life permanently.
Are you very involved with work or family? Can’t get 10 or 15 minutes a day to get better?
Not doing it is like saying you don’t have time to sharpen the ax because you’re too busy cutting down.