Due to the rise of mental health advocacy and self-help, there are plenty of resources that discuss why you should avoid spending time with toxic people and just not have them in your life or at the very least, cut ties with as many of them as you possibly can. Toxic people threaten your security (can be physical, emotional and mental) and manipulate you into believing that you’re not enough and will never be enough, while they’re the ones who are never at fault.
Whenever you speak from a place of hopelessness, feel even a tiny bit jealous, assert yourself more than you normally would, criticize someone, or snap at someone who constantly puts you in a bad mood, you might feel like you have toxic behaviors yourself. You start to worry that maybe you are the toxic person, which then makes you extremely doubtful of your likability. And this thought influences you to believe that you’re mean-spirited, selfish, and undeserving of any form of compassion whatsoever.
However, one major sign of not being a toxic person is that you acknowledge how some behaviors may not reflect your best self and thus, this makes you think about all the ways you could improve – and this is a conscious act of self-awareness. Toxic people don’t do this and can’t see how any of their behaviors could be “toxic” at all, since they believe that they’re above any form of negative judgment. So, if you’ve had a series of bad days and you’ve reacted negatively, but you still feel remorseful over how your actions or words might have affected others, you’re most likely not a toxic person.
And if you’re still worried about coming across as a toxic person, here are some more reassuring signs that you aren’t one:
1. You feel tremendously guilty if you believe that you’ve hurt anyone in any way.
Toxic people cannot feel guilty because they believe that everything they’ve done, even at the expense of others, is always right and reflective of moral absolutes. If you’re constantly thinking about how your words, opinions, or actions might affect others negatively, you’re at least realizing that you’re only a fallible human in need of improvement, so that you can better yourself and your relationships with others.
2. You focus more on your own mistakes than other people’s.
You think more about what you’ve done wrong instead of what other people have done wrong. When it’s not so excessive that it leads to self-loathing, being aware of your faults and mistakes shows that you’re incredibly reflective and quick to point out your own bullshit. Toxic people, in contrast, like to focus on what others are doing wrong, according to their own unrealistic judgments and always think they’re superior in every way.
3. You question yourself.
While too much self-doubt leads to paralysis and an inability to follow through on particularly challenging and time-consuming tasks, a healthy dose of self-doubt is a sure sign that you know you know you make mistakes and you want to prevent as many as you can before they become bigger problems. Toxic people, however, never question themselves and feel threatened if anyone questions them. They think they’re above all mistakes and don’t even feel like anyone needs to correct them.
4. You sometimes confuse “standing up for yourself” for “being a selfish, aggressive bully.”
Whenever you need to raise your voice a little and stand up for yourself, especially when you’re not receiving what was promised to you or in situations where your personal wellbeing is at stake, you sometimes feel guilty and think you’re being a selfish, aggressive bully for doing so. But you’re not because you don’t want to put up with being treated so poorly when you don’t deserve it. However, toxic people make everything about themselves to an unhealthy degree.
5. You’re not upset when everything isn’t your way.
Instead, you find ways to compromise, unlike toxic people who are incapable of seeing anything from another’s perspective and they simply refuse to understand the reasoning behind why some methods are more efficient than others. They want everything their way and if they don’t get it, they use fear tactics, emotional manipulation, and coercion to get others to give them what they want, at all costs.
6. You worry about talking about yourself too much.
Whether it’s in person or on social media, you overthink all the ways you might be talking about yourself too much. You worry that you might be not be as balanced as you should be when it comes to talking about yourself, so you make an effort to talk about yourself less. That’s because you’re highly conscious of how self-centered you might come across to others and you really don’t want to be self-centered. However, toxic people talk about themselves so much that they don’t see it as a problem, even when it actually is a serious one.
7. You’re honest about ways you might be judgmental.
Everyone judges, but if you are honest about all the ways that you might continuously be judgmental, you feel remorseful over all the times you have, and you make an effort to practice non-judgment, you’re not a toxic person. You are capable of tracing back judgments and understanding that everything you judge others for is a reflection of how you feel about yourself and the truth is, the less secure you feel, the more prone you are to judge others harshly.
8. You don’t speak to others condescendingly.
Even if it’s with other people you dislike, you still try to be respectful and neutral. You try your best to be accommodating because you know that everyone is dealing with something and you’re conscious of how you treat others. This reflects your belief that nobody is inferior to you, as opposed to toxic people’s belief that everyone is inferior to them.
9. You admit that you can be hypocritical.
You’re aware of all the things you say that might not reflect in your actions and make an effort to rectify that. While you know you’ll never be perfect, you try not to preach what you can never put into practice. However, toxic people are hypocritical, yet they constantly deny that they are, but unlike them, you aren’t in denial whenever someone calls you out on your hypocrisy. You admit you’re wrong and then you move on.
10. People are generally not afraid of being around you.
You can feel the presence of toxic people when they walk into the room. Everyone cowers, tightens their fists, and keeps quiet. But with you, people still open up to you and carry on normal conversations and though you might feel awkward at times, nobody feels threatened by your presence. And one way to tell is to observe how others react to a toxic person in your life and then compare that with how others react to you. If their reactions are different and people are more comfortable around you, you’ll know that you aren’t the toxic person that you feared you were.
11. You can be happy about others’ success.
While you are prone to envy (as everyone is), you can still celebrate other people’s success and reassure yourself that their success doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You know that everyone has something to offer in life and if someone else happens to succeed, that’s a win for everyone. You understand that you have a lot to learn from them and that you might not always be living up to your full potential, but you have an idea of how you can improve. Toxic people have a manic desire to be at the top at all times and can’t ever feel secure if they aren’t.
12. You’re comfortable with not being “the best” all the time.
You know your limitations and acknowledge that there are certain things you’ll never be good at and that’s fine for you. You instead focus on building upon your strengths because you’re driven to excel in areas of your life you deem as most important and worthwhile. Toxic people can’t accept that some things aren’t really right for them and they get angry easily if someone says they aren’t as great as they think they are. You, however, are aware that you’re not always going to be the greatest, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure because you know that feeling secure about yourself doesn’t require you to dominate everyone else or adhere to lofty standards that you can’t possibly meet.
13. As a whole, you’re improving and changing for the better.
You’re slowly learning to accept yourself for who you are and realize that even when things don’t work out the way you wanted them to, you still can go after what you want, learn from your mistakes, and adapt to changing circumstances. Toxic people are pretty much set in their ways and refuse to evolve with the times because they believe that their ways are above anyone else’s, and they’re highly critical of everything that changes around them. But when you recognize that you’re a lovable human with room to grow and the ability to change, that’s when you know for sure that you are not a toxic person, and you have so much joy to give to those around you.