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2 Signs That You Might Be the Toxic One in Your Relationships

1. You're always sure that you're the victim.

Key points

  • We are all works in progress. If we ever feel like we’re a finished product, it’s probably time for a self-scan.
  • The defense mechanism of branding ourselves as a victim may give us the illusion that we can evade responsibility for our actions.
  • Just because something has worked for us doesn’t mean it will work for someone else.
Source: Nuno Silva/Unsplash
Source: Nuno Silva/Unsplash

It’s easy for most of us to pinpoint toxic traits in other people. We may think things like “That person is way too clingy” or “Does that person even realize how rude they are?”

But spotting unhealthy personality traits or behavioral patterns in ourselves is a different story. It can take years for us to wise up to a certain personality flaw we have or to correct a mistake we continually make.

None of us are perfect. The reality is that, at times, even the best of us exhibit unhealthy behaviors due to unresolved trauma, a bad role model, or an imbalance in our social or family lives. Often, we only come to realize the flaw when we see it in other people’s reactions to our behaviors, which causes them to drift away.

Here are two signs to help you determine if you are exhibiting any unresolved traits, and how to correct them.

1. You host pity parties too often.

The defense mechanism of branding ourselves as a victim may give us the illusion that we can evade responsibility for our actions, only to realize later that this mentality has caused us to stagnate or regress.

Sure, it feels good to play make-believe with ourselves by thinking and feeling that nothing is our fault and that we don’t owe anyone anything. But this only acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby we end up perpetuating our victim status. Additionally, by continually playing the victim card, we allow difficult life circumstances to take control of our lives.

For instance, in the face of obstacles, instead of gearing up for the fight, we consciously or subconsciously make a choice not to try to overcome them. We learn to find comfort in the idea that we are a powerless victim, that the universe conspires against us, and that nothing can be done to come out of this trap until our ultimate destiny kicks in.

A 2018 study suggests that a sense of victimhood is a common byproduct of narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are more likely to perceive ambiguous social situations as transgressions or assaults on their character.

To tame a victimhood mentality, use some of the following antidotes:

  • Use positive affirmations like “I am worthy, I am valuable, and I deserve love.”
  • Change the broken record that keeps telling you that you are not good enough by thinking about the time when things were good, when you were in control, and when you liked yourself.
  • Stop comparing yourself with others only to convince yourself that you have it worse than others or that others have better resources to break out of the spell than you do. Remind yourself that this is a self-destructive pattern that is perpetuating your victim status.
  • Breathe. Slow down and calm your mind. Objectively focus on the thoughts and feelings that are tricking you into believing that submitting to your obstacles is better and easier than trying and risking failure.

2. You try to impose your reality on others.

When we successfully come out of a rut of prolonged suffering, we naturally feel inclined to shout our solution to anyone who will listen. We may feel like we are superhuman, that we know how things work, and that our solution is the only way to fix your situation.

However, our attempts to influence others in unsolicited ways can often backfire. In our attempt to force our truth onto others’ lives, we might end up driving them further away. We also might ignore their reality and become dismissive of their experience.

We easily forget that just because something has worked for us doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. Solutions work best when they are tailored to someone’s personality, experience, and situation.

The fix for this is two-fold:

  1. Leave the ball in their court. Get comfortable with the idea of just being there for them. Often, when people vent, all they want is to be heard and understood and not be coached about ways to heal. Instead of advising, you can say: I've noticed this change in you, and I'm here for you if you ever want to talk.”
  2. Introspect. If you find it hard to express compassion for someone else, ask yourself, "What would I want someone to say to me if I were in this position?"

We are all works in progress. If you ever feel like you’re a finished product, it’s probably time for a self-scan.

Facebook image: PR Image Factory/Shutterstock

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