Most of us have heard the term, “toxic,” used to describe someone who is difficult to deal with; and as an LDS family counselor, I’ve heard the term used quite often. But what makes a person toxic? And how do you deal with having a toxic person in your life?
What Makes A Person Toxic?
While there is generally no hard and fast list of characteristics of a toxic personality, mostly because there is no such thing as a diagnosis of “toxic personality disorder,” there are some telltale signs of toxicity that can help you identify a problematic person. These include but are not limited to:
◾ Using other people for their own needs and benefits, regardless of the impact on those people
◾ Lying easily and frequently to shape reality to serve their needs and interests
◾ Pitting one person against another to control them by dividing and conquering
◾ Creating chaos and conflict, blaming others for the conflict and painting themselves as victims
◾ Having a lack of empathy for others, especially when they’ve caused the problem
◾ Frequently finding ways to discredit people who threaten them or disagree with them
How A Toxic Person Can Affect Your Wellbeing
There is no doubt that there is a direct relationship between psychological and emotional wellbeing and physical wellbeing. Unfortunately for people dealing with a toxic friend, family member or colleague, the turmoil caused by being constantly on guard for the conflict these kinds of people bring with them can lead to serious, debilitating health problems. If you have a toxic person in your life, you are more susceptible to sleep disturbances, heart attacks, adrenal fatigue and stress that can lead to problematic coping mechanisms like drinking or eating too much.
What You Can Do About Toxic People
The first step in changing a toxic relationship is to recognize that you’re in one. If you feel you are constantly walking on eggshells around one particular person, you dread seeing that person or you always feel bad about yourself around that person, you may be in a toxic relationship. There are a number of red flags to look for when it comes to identifying a problem and as an LDS family counselor, I can help you to figure out if any relationship you’re in is healthy. The next step is to make yourself believe that you deserve to be treated with respect, love and compassion and once you’ve done that, you must make your feelings known to the toxic person. If open communication is impossible, you may have to consider distancing yourself, physically and emotionally, from the person causing you pain.
If you are dealing with a toxic person, whether it’s a family member, friend or work colleague, you should know that you are not alone. Almost everyone has dealt with, or is dealing with, a person in their lives who makes life more difficult than it needs to be. You should also know that there is help. Call me, Jody VanDrimmelen at Insight Child & Family Counseling, at (972) 426-9500 to make an appointment to get the help of an LDS family counselor. You can also visit me online at www.j9n.83e.myftpupload.com to fill out a contact form.