Some People Are Just Plain Toxic

Recently I came across this article in Yahoo's online publication, "Shine" - 8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid. It's an excellent read. In it the author Brett Blumenthal presents the personality characteristics of people that tend to have a negative impact on our lives, how to spot them, and why they are so destructive. We passed the article around work and had a good chuckle noting which of our coworkers could be closely identified with some of the traits listed, and which ones we tended to be most like. Not surprisingly, the person who could have most benefited from seeing herself there on the page didn't find the article the least bit interesting. We tend to see ourselves a lot differently than others see us.

Later on I was reflecting on the various relationships of my past and how some of the people I chose to closely engage myself with had such a devastating effect on my psyche. Things usually started out ok in those relationships, and it wasn't until they progressed that I began to see the true nature of the individual I was dealing with and how I was being sucked in, and in some cases sucked under, by their poison. While it's true that we all have bad days, bad weeks, and maybe even bad years, what I'm talking about, and what the article was referring to are individuals whose core personality fits one of the descriptions listed. In other words, that's the way they behave the majority of the time. We can almost see their picture next to the stated traits.

I used to be a victim, and a doormat... a people pleaser who would stop at nothing to appease and meet the needs of my so-called friends and partners. In some cases the extremes I went to in order to accomodate those people astounds me now. In fact in a couple instances I narrowly escaped the relationship with my soul intact, much less my mind or any shred of self-worth. It is amazing how we can let another individual erode away at us until there is little semblance left of the person we once were. It can be a subtle process at times, like drops of water wearing away at a rock, and with other people it can be bold, in-your-face behavior that maybe seems kind of cute or quirky at first, but later proves to burdensome and obnoxious.

In the last two years I've changed my perspective greatly on the kind of people I need and want in my life. I choose not to be a doormat, a target, or a chronic care-taker that never is cared for back. I shy away from people who are needy, negative, always finding fault with others, and having nothing uplifting to give. I avoid loud, agressive types. Most importantly, if anyone who has access to my life takes advantage of me or becomes abusive in any manner, they get one warning, and then they're gone - locked out forever.

Please understand that I am not claiming myself to be a perfect person, partner, or friend. I have my faults and plenty of them. But I am striving to be a positive, caring, encouraging person, and in order to become that it is essential to surround myself with like-minded people of similar spirit and intent. We all know how difficult it can be to live with or work with someone who sees the world thru dark glasses, feels sorry for themselves, and seems intent on bringing everyone around them down. My goal is to watch myself and my conduct carefully, to avoid becoming one of those people who is a chronic downer and to maintain a healthy distance from people who are like that. It's more contagious than swine flu!

I encourage you to read the article I've linked to above, and to think about the relationships in your life. Have any of them become more of a burden than a gift? Is someone draining you? Maybe it's time to take an inventory of the plusses and minuses and see if you'd be better off setting yourself free. We are not obligated to put up with people who are toxic.

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