Toxic behavior comes from people who are emotionally wounded, people who have yet to directly address their pain. As psychotherapist Jodie Gale told Psych Central, they "overidentify and act out the parts of who they are, such as the victim, bully, perfectionist, or martyr." They create drama and become extremely critical of others when what they should be doing is learning how to live a toxic-free life.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like pretty much every human being I've ever met. We all struggle with old emotional wounds. As a result, toxicity is a common social experience — and our own toxic behavior is definitely not something we can only blame on others. Actually, the quicker we take responsibility for our own toxic actions, the easier it will be to identify when individuals around us are exhibiting toxic behavior, too.
As normal as it is to face toxic behavior on a regular basis, that doesn't mean we have to put up with it in our own lives. Believe it or not, it's possible to live a life that isn't overflowing with emotional damage. It's ultimately up to us, though; even if that means we have to take a good, hard look at ourselves.
Here are 11 ways you can start living a toxic-free life.
1. Limit Your Time On Social Media
According to recent studies, Facebook makes us sad. The more time we spend staring at other people's profiles, the easier it is for us to feel dissatisfied with whatever we've got going on in our own lives. Not all Facebook is toxic Facebook, though, so if you're not down to delete the app from your smartphone, no problem.
That said, consider how much social media poison you could potentially get rid of just by cutting down on your browsing time. You don't need to spend three hours clicking through everyone's fun weekend pictures (which have been enhanced and edited anyway), and you could significantly reduce the stress and anxiety in your life by powering off Instagram for a while, too.
2. Delete Some Friends & Followers On Social Media
Even if you've decided not to deactivate all of your accounts, that doesn't mean you have to continue entertaining anyone and everyone on your friends list, either. Delete any negative or passive aggressive "friends," and don't feel bad about it.
3. Create Boundaries With Your Friends & Family
Most of us have people in our lives who may not be the best influences, but we're still friends with them out of habit or sentimentality, and that's OK. However, that doesn't mean you have to maintain close relationships with them.
Establish boundaries with these people, and don't back down from them. Distancing yourself might be a gradual process, but it will probably do wonders for your mental health.
4. Stop Needing To Be Right All The Time
This isn't for the sake of others — this is for you. The more you fight people on who's right, the farther you'll get from feeling comfortable in your own skin.
5. Be Honest
Being honest with yourself and others is a great way to reduce the toxicity and stress in your life. Plus, the chances are pretty high that your honesty could rub off on the people around you, too.
6. Stop Engaging In Drama
Because we're all flawed human beings, we'll never live 100 percent drama-free. We can, however, make choices that allow us to live with as little drama as possible. So, going forward, promise yourself you'll no longer encourage your short-tempered roommate when she gets into a screaming match with your super.
7. Don't Gossip
There's nothing complicated about this one. If you talk trash about someone behind their back, you're not only acting out the definition of toxicity, you're inviting other people to do the same. Refrain from spreading rumors. Maybe even try to go an entire twenty-four hours without saying one mean thing about another person.
8. Call Out People Who Are Trying To Control You
Amy Tatsumi, a DC based psychotherapist, says trying to control others is a strong sign of toxicity. It could be anyone in your life — a best friend or SO — and it's never something you should put up with. Have a private conversation with them; be calm but firm, and stop it while it's in its tracks. If they refuse to listen to you, it might be time to cut them out of your life.
9. Educate Yourself On The Psychology Of Toxic Behavior
Taking the time to understand how your brain naturally functions — and how toxic behavior functions —can help you see yourself and others more clearly. In turn, you'll be more acutely aware of the toxicity around you, and you'll be more likely to put a stop to it, too.
10. Consider Therapy
Hashing out any toxicity in your life with a seasoned professional might be the ideal way to recognize how you can start living a simpler life. Not all therapists are created equally, so do your research and go for a few test drives. Also, know that there are some great alternatives to therapy if it's just not in your budget.
11. Focus On Taking Care Of Yourself
Once you commit to putting your health first, the rest will follow. Start with the smallest changes: take a walk by yourself in the morning, learn how to bake your favorite dessert, drink more water throughout the day. Simply shifting the focus to you, rather than concentrating on the negatives of others, is an effective way to ward off toxicity.
Images: Robin Gentry / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images; Giphy