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Am I Toxic? How to Tell If You’re the Toxic One & Not Everyone Else

Ever asked yourself, “Am I toxic?” Sometimes relationships go wrong, you’re deep in drama, and there comes a time when you wonder if you’re the problem.

am i toxic

If you’ve ever asked yourself, am I toxic, even in passing, here’s what you really need to know and understand. We’ve all been told to avoid toxic people. They drain your energy and add nothing but negativity to your life. 

Toxic people are often manipulative and can become a problem for everyone in their life. But, that isn’t to say toxic people are hopeless or bad people. 

Most people you’d qualify as toxic have their own deep-seated issues that aren’t being properly dealt with and that’s why they’re expressing such toxic behavior. But before you point fingers at others, or inwards at you and wonder if you’re toxic, you need to really understand what being toxic is.

What does toxic mean?

The word toxic means poisonous. Although it may sound harsh to describe someone as toxic, it is a metaphor. Although someone who’s toxic isn’t actually poisoning people, they are draining them of their energy, positivity, and other healthy qualities.

There isn’t just one behavior that means you’re toxic and just because you do some toxic things doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a toxic person. 

But, being toxic essentially means not taking accountability for your needs and desires so you act out. This is essentially what you see in a childhood bully. This child often has issues at home and acts out at school. 

A toxic adult however is not dealing with their traumas, stress, or other issues, and it manifests into toxic behavior like narcissism, victimhood, and more. 

A toxic person can be a bully, they can talk down to people, they can desire attention or pity, or even be a perfectionist, but always in an unhealthy way. 

These behaviors are toxic because they are problematic for others as well as the toxic person. This can be seen through drama, manipulation, neediness, jealousy, and more. 

[Read: 20 signs of a toxic friend to instantly recognize the rotten ones]

Am I toxic? How to learn to see the toxicity in yourself

The characteristics of a toxic person can seem obvious, but like most behaviors, they are subtle at first. They can also be more obvious only once you get to know someone. 

The reason you may not even realize you’re toxic is that a part of being toxic is being unaware. 

If toxic people knew they were toxic, they would be dealing with the layers of hurt beneath that behavior. Because those issues aren’t being dealt with, the toxic behavior is on display for all to see and feel. [Read: How to tell someone they hurt you without hurting them back in return]

If you’re not self-aware or in tune with your past and your feelings, there is a chance you’re toxic. There is a better chance that you have toxic tendencies or traits though. 

Not everyone who shows toxic behavior is a toxic person. In fact, almost all of us are toxic in one way or another. It’s about how we handle certain situations. 

When a friend is celebrating and you can’t help but be jealous, or when someone is down, and you compare your worst days to theirs. Things like that are toxic, but they don’t make you a toxic person. [Read: 18 honest and insightful reasons why you don’t have any friends]

If you have one or two toxic traits, you can focus on changes that behavior. However, if you read through this list of toxic traits and connect with a lot of them, you may have the answer to your question, am I toxic? 

That can help you get answers to a lot of your relationship questions. If you wonder why people maybe don’t want to hang out with you or ignore your calls, it could be your toxicity. You can work on being less toxic and find inner peace, but you first have to acknowledge the truth.

[Read: Why do people hate me? 15 truthful reasons why so many people dislike you]

The most toxic traits within yourself you need to keep an eye on

Toxicity in someone is not one thing, it is a collection of behaviors and patterns that poison relationships and get in the way of healthy connections.

If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, it is time to take responsibility and relearn some new and healthier ways to deal.

1. People avoid you

If you notice people not wanting to talk to you at events or parties, there is probably a reason for it. It isn’t that people don’t like you, but they don’t like your energy. When you’re toxic, you can’t help but spread that around. Without trying, you insinuate things, judge others, and bring them down.

This isn’t what people want to be around. If people don’t want to make plans with you, cancel plans, or avoid responding to your messages, it could be a side of yourself that you’re not seeing. If you’re wondering, am I toxic, one of the first signs you need to look for is whether people intentionally choose to avoid you. [Read: How to think positive and reprogram your mind to stay positive]

2. You shut down criticism

A toxic trait is not being able to take criticism or even hear someone out when they want to help. If a friend is worried about your toxic behavior or wants to talk to you about something you did, you immediately shut them down. 

Many toxic people can’t take criticism or even the introduction to it, because they are very sensitive. If you feel this way about anything from your looks to your work, or your personality you may have a toxic trait.

3. You’re defensive

If you’re wondering, am I toxic, ask yourself if you think you’re defensive most of the time? Do you feel like you are always on the defensive, no matter what the situation is? You are never to be blamed. You always deflect any blame off of yourself. If someone asks you a simple question, you might even react overtly to overcompensate for a mistake you could have made. [Read: Why do people get so defensive? 14 reasons why and ways to handle it]

4. You consider yourself honest

People call you blunt, intense, or rude, but you consider yourself honest. If someone can’t take something you said, you consider them sensitive or weak for not being able to handle the truth. In reality, you often claim judgments and shame as the truth. But when you hear the truth, you overreact. 

5. You don’t hear good news right away

People don’t like sharing good news with you. Whether they got a promotion, are getting married, or are having a baby, you’re likely to hear about it secondhand or even online. Why? Because you tend to be negative or make things about yourself. 

When someone shares good news, instead of celebrating, you act as if their happiness means there is less for you. [Read: Not wishing someone happy birthday – No big deal or a serious power play to hurt them?

6. You experience a lot of drama

You claim everyone around you at school or work is dramatic or loves drama, when in fact you’re inciting it. There is a reason you’re always involved in drama and it isn’t because others pull you in.

7. It is always about you

Every conversation is stirred back to you, by you. If someone wants to share anything, you won’t let them get a word in. If someone is venting or sharing news, you think of a way it relates to you. 

This is something you probably don’t pick up on, but it is a need for attention. [Read: Attention seeking heavier and why some people go looking for drama all the time]

8. You’re not kind unless it benefits you

This is something that is very common amongst toxic people. It is a lack of authenticity. Do you think you’re nice to people only when you need something from them? You may take someone out and let them vent, only because you need a favor. 

Do you treat others as pawns instead of people, and are kind only when you get something out of it? Do you likely ignore service workers or anyone you consider beneath you?

9. You guilt people

If you want something to go your way, you are going to get your way no matter what. If someone won’t give you the time you believe you deserve, you will pit yourself until they feel bad. You will manipulate the emotions of others to get your own way. [Read: Are you a user? 15 uncomfortable facts to help you face the truth]

10. You don’t apologize

Most toxic people find it impossible to admit they’re wrong, not even to end a silly fight. And worse, they won’t apologize even if they’re truly wrong! If you find yourself never admitting you’re wrong about something, you have an issue with using control. 

11. You never take accountability

Everyone makes mistakes and although deep down, toxic people know they aren’t perfect, they never show that outwardly unless it is to manipulate others. You won’t accept your mistakes or change your behavior. Instead of trying to learn and grow as a person, you try to convince everyone you didn’t do anything wrong.

12. You’re needy

You’re clingy and needy. Although you have a false sense of self that you view as better than everyone, you also require the reassurance and attention of others to fill a void. You are codependent and rely on the attention of others. Often, that attention was gained through manipulation but it sustains your toxicity nonetheless.

13. You’re always the victim

This goes along with guilting others, but you always find a way to play the victim. If someone did well, they outdid you. If someone had a bad day, you had a worse one. [Read: The reasons why playing a victim only makes your life much, much worse!]

14. You lie 

Lying is a huge part of being toxic, and it isn’t always major lies but small ones. Lies that pull attention. Lies that make you seem a bit more interesting. These lies may just come out of you without thinking. You are so used to it, you don’t even realize it. 

15. You trash talk

You talk about people behind their backs. If you’re wondering, am I toxic, as yourself if you start rumors and bring others down to feel better about yourself. This is another reason people may avoid you. When you talk to one person about someone else, they feel you might do the same to them when they aren’t there. 

16. You’re negative

This is one of the major factors of being toxic. When you suck the positivity out of people, it is highly toxic. You want people to enjoy being around you, not feel drained of their hope and excitement. 

[Read: How to stop self-destructive behavior and change your life for good]

How to stop being toxic and change your life for the better

I know these things seem harsh when laid out as such, but when you’re toxic, sometimes you need it to hit you where it hurts. Without that shock to your system, you can deny your behavior and continue on as if nothing is wrong. 

My guess is, if you relate to those toxic traits, you know deep down how it bothers other people. And you’ll now know the answer to the question lingering in your mind, am I toxic?

You know how your family and friends feel about it. It is hard to admit. It is hard to realize you may need to change some of the core things about your personality, but this isn’t your personality. This is a reaction to deeper issues you haven’t properly dealt with. 

And yes, it will hurt to deal with those. It will be hard and lengthy, but it is worth it. 

[Read: How to stop being selfish – 20 ways to stop using and hurting others]

Try talking to your friends and family and ask them to let you know when you’re showing these traits, so you can be proactive. Apologize to them for past behavior and let them know you’re working on it. 

When they see you’re trying, they will be more likely to give you a chance and be understanding. 

These changes are not easy to make, and are not always able to be made alone. There is no shame in asking for help from friends or a therapist. They can guide you in the right direction with exercises and discussions that help you unwind what has manifested into toxic behavior so you can live a healthier life.

[Read: 13 avoidable habits that will change your life for the worse]

So, now when you ask yourself, “Am I toxic?” you may finally have your answer. But you need to remember that you can always choose to change. The first few steps may seem awkward and uncomfortable. But with a bit of effort, you can become the best version of yourself in no time!

Check out these articles that may help you learn more about yourself:

How to get over feeling unwanted and start feeling desirable again

Am I a bad friend? The bad friendship skills that push people away from you

All the signs you’re the selfish one in the relationship who uses their partner

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...