Exploring My So Called “Toxic Traits”

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By: Andrea

So, I took sometime this year, last year, and the year before that (because what else was there to do during the pandemic besides sitting and reflecting) to understand myself. I learned a lot. I learned what I’m willing to take, my emotional state, how to control my emotions, and some characteristics that are deemed “toxic”.  I learned they are not in fact toxic traits but characteristics that some people either don’t understand or understand and view it as unhealthy.

  • People Pleaser – “someone or something that pleases or wants to please people”.
    • Reflection – I have this tendency to make sure that everyone around me is happy or in someway pleased, regardless if I am happy or pleased. Subconsciously, I think this satisfies me and gives me some sort of gratitude when in actuality it does the opposite. I wear myself down and trick myself into thinking this is ultimately going to give me gratification, if not instantly, and overtime shame, irritation, and even guilt. I feel like I am personally responsible for another person’s feelings even if I may have not direct personal ties to that person or whatever situation they’re going through.
    • Solution – Take a step back and think about the reason I’m choosing to “please” or make this person “comfortable”: Does the situation warrant this? How much energy am I expelling? More importantly, would this person do the same for me? What am I gaining from this? It’s one thing to be a genuinely nice person and feel emphatic towards someone but at what cost to my energy? As I think on these questions and the answers slowly come to me my decision has to be one that I am comfortable with and not the other person. I have to be at peace, at ease, knowing that you cannot make everyone happy, and it’s not my job or my business.
  • Non-Confrontational – “Tending to deal with situations calmly and diplomatically; not aggressive or hostile”. People think when you’re non-confrontational that you’re afraid of expressing your viewpoint or speaking out.
    • Reflection – I hate this one because it implies weakness, when in fact, I’m the opposite. I’m very strong minded, even downright bossy, but I’m also an empathetic person and do not want to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. What’s odd is that people have taken confrontation from me harsher because it was unexpected and the words were direct. I like to think that how I say things, regardless of how I’m feeling, will come out in a way that is effective and shows that I hear that person. There are times where I just outright avoid it, apologize because I want to get through it even if I wasn’t directly at fault, or go all in and the passive explosiveness bubbles to the surface and I lash out. Confrontation for me is very uncomfortable. I don’t welcome it or enjoy it. But the flip side, I don’t like the situations that put me in a confrontational position.
    • Solution – Assert confidence in knowing your opinion/argument is just as valid as the person being confronted. Asking: why am I confronting this person? Is my argument strong? Even if it’s not, confidence is key. Peace doesn’t always mean not speaking up but to clear your mind of thoughts, doubts and worry. Know your strength and your worth inside that conversation.
  • Cut Off – “Abruptly end a relationship; ghosting”.
    • Reflection – I do this sometimes so that the sting doesn’t hurt as much, like ripping off a bandaid. Initially, I was hurt, meaning prior to the cutoff I felt a ways that ultimately led to the cut off and that person didn’t either expect it or possibly didn’t know what to do with it and I was long gone from feeling responsible for their feelings that it didn’t affect me.
    • Solution – I like to think there’s a solution to this but it’s hard for me to find one, even after reflecting. I think about why am I cutting this person off and usually it’s for a reason; I don’t cutoff a person just because. I am a person that loves their friends and prides herself on being a good friend, daughter, aunt, cousin, etc. and if something is done to warrant the cut off then I won’t be looked at as the villain, that person handed over the scissors. Some people may say to have a conversation with that person prior to cutting them off and working out the issue. I agree. But if that has been done and you are still in the same place with this person then what else is there? When we were kids it was easier to work things out. As adults it’s a little difficult, time and energy are at stake and no one needs or wants them wasted. So, inevitably, a cutoff is necessary and OK.

So what does all this mean? It means I’m human; that I can look at these so called toxic traits or characteristics and see that I have things to work on and things that just make me uniquely me. I like to view myself as fair, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. I believe I can make adjustments for my own mental health but also continue being me but without completely exhausting myself. I’ve also learned the power of reset/recharge. When all else fails I have to take a step back, shut down and when I’m charged and ready I can dial back in and work things at my own pace.

I think this is so necessary, especially nowadays with so much going on and even learning how to “people” again while the world opens back up. Learn about you, don’t beat yourself up about those characteristics that you or even someone else sees as negative, and tweak what needs to be tweaked, but on your terms and ultimately for your peace.

Peace and love!

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