Learning how to stop being toxic can only be accomplished by recognizing your toxicity, and practicing more positive behaviors.

I can be toxic at times, and honestly, most of us can. But the first thing to do is take a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t like being toxic, and I want to change.

This knowledge of myself makes it easier for me to recognize others who act the same way. Unfortunately, many of them refuse to see the truth, and thus, cannot change. But there’s always hope, right? Let’s look at a quick definition of a toxic person:

A toxic person is an individual who exhibits behavior that upsets your life and breeds negativity. Most of these individuals are dealing with issues inside themselves or unresolved trauma.

Signs that you are being a toxic person

Before we get familiar with a few ways to stop being toxic, let’s look at you and me. I am sure we know many toxic people, but have we taken an honest look at ourselves? I think not. So here are some indicators that will reveal any toxicity that may be present within us.

1. Pointing fingers

A toxic person will usually have ego problems. They may showcase a certain image of themselves to the public, but in reality, they struggle with deep insecurities. In response to this, they will be defensive and attempt to bring others down. Why do they do this?

Well, it’s because they feel if they can bring others down, it brings them up a notch. They point fingers at others, laying blame and slandering the good intentions and names of other people. You feel that everything would be fine if the other people didn’t cause the problems. Do you recognize any of this?

2. Holding grudges vs. peace

Learning how to stop being toxic means learning how to properly mend relationships. Healthy people may fight but they usually feel compelled to make amends. This can result in making peace, communicating the differences that caused the argument, or simply saying they are sorry to each other.

Toxic individuals hold grudges when they feel they’ve been wronged. They can go as far as retaining unforgiveness for the rest of their lives. They will bad talk, refuse to be anywhere near the person, and even do things to sabotage them.

Holding these grudges rob the toxic person of a relationship that could have been fixed. They know what they’re doing, and have no desire to stop being toxic.

3. Selfishness

When you’re toxic, you only really care about yourself and your own needs. Some people are a little selfish while others are extreme in this area. Toxicity is when you decide buying new clothes for yourself is more important than buying food for the home.

It can also pertain to your selfish behavior when you refuse to listen to the problems of others because you feel you should be in the spotlight. It overlaps the noxious desire for attention. Which leads me to…

4. Desire for attention

As humans, we all appreciate a little attention every now and then. There are some, however, that constantly crave attention, and they can never seem to get enough. This is one of the most common traits of a toxic person.

They are constantly buying new clothes, love taking numerous selfies, and tell people about everything that happens in their lives. On social media, they always place themselves in a good light in all situations. And if they help someone, they tell people about what they’ve done.

5. The two faces

In many cases, acquaintances and some friends in a toxic person’s life have no idea how they really act. In these situations, the emotionally unhealthy individual will save the toxic behavior for the ones closest to them. This is usually a spouse. For instance, a husband will rage, lie, manipulate, and slander the wife’s name.

He may even delve into a triangulation situation. This is when the toxic husband turns other family members against his spouse. Unfortunately, the husband will not show the same behavior to anyone else outside the home. In public, he will be seen only as a kind and generous person.

Of course, toxic wives are the same way, just to be clear.

6. Make others feel guilty

This also overlaps one of the other traits, but it’s worth mentioning. A person who behaves badly will do whatever it takes to make their ‘target’ feel guilty. And there is almost always a target individual who receives the negative energy.

No matter what happens, if you’re toxic, you will belittle another so much that they feel guilty all the time. The truth is, most of that guilt is either made up or your fault.

7. Controlling and manipulative

If you’re toxic, then you are the puppet master. You are always in control, and if you start to lose that control, then you turn to manipulation to get it back. You must always keep people in their places in order to feel comfortable. You simply fall apart when someone wishes to have a mind of their own.

How to stop being toxic?

There are several ways you can begin your journey to good mental health. While there are some severe reasons for toxic behavior, and these reasons make it difficult to treat, most toxic behaviors can be stopped. That is if the person who uses these behavior patterns wants to be better. That’s the key.

Here are a few ways to stop:

  • Face the problem

If you suddenly realize that you could be a toxic person, then just face it. Don’t try to deny what you’re doing. This only makes it more difficult to make changes. Stop assuming that you’re doing nothing wrong, and it’s always the other person. Own up to your behavior.

  • Keep being honest

You may have owned up to your behavior once, but then let things slide right back down into that pit. After you realize you exhibit toxic traits, you must keep being honest with yourself.

Learning how to stop being toxic requires constant monitoring of how you’re treating others. Since most toxic people lie, you have to learn how to be honest about your downfalls.

  • Take responsibility

Toxic individuals usually like to deflect responsibility when the fault is theirs. People who do this have usually done so for a long time. It’s as if there’s always this fear of punishment that looms over them, and so they lie.

Well, to start breaking this horrible habit, you must consistently catch yourself deflecting. When someone tells you that you’re doing this, practice not getting angry. You see, when confronted with deflection and lies, many toxic people are defensive. You just have to break this cycle.

  •  Learn to apologize

Instead of pushing your bad behavior under the rug, learn to apologize when someone says you’ve hurt them. And yes, this means even when you don’t really understand why.

Saying you’re sorry is not that hard to do. As you heal, you will realize when it’s time to apologize, and it will be like a balm to the soul of another. It’s one of the ways to stop being a toxic person.

  • Seek help

If it’s a severe case of toxicity, then you may have to seek help from a professional. The worst part about this is when you aren’t willing to face up to what you’re doing, and it might not be easy to accept professional help.

It’s best when enough people are telling you that you’re toxic, that you seek help to find out the truth. If this step is taken, you can reverse your negative behavior.

Battling our toxic ways

Learning how to stop being toxic is difficult. And one of the reasons why it’s so hard is because we don’t even know we’re exhibiting this behavior. Unfortunately, negative actions and words associated with this problem are often seen as normal because we’ve been doing it for so long.

I think recognition is the most important thing we can do here, in order to stop our negative and hurtful ways. So, let’s be honest with ourselves. Are we toxic? If so, we’ve got some work to do.


  1. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Patricia scow

    I have a daughter who is this way the thing is she knows she is and is to the point were she wants to commit suicide it happened just today how do I get her to get the help she needs. thank you from her mother who wants to help her daughter.

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    If your daughter is not willing to get help, and she is threatening suicide, you can step in and get professional help. Anyone who is a harm to themselves or others can have decisions made by their loved ones. There are certain steps and circumstances you must go through in order to get this help. Otherwise, there is always 911. In my opinion, if you are afraid of them, it’s better to call 911 than to wish you had done so. Your daughter is screaming for help, even if she is faking the suicidal talk, she is still screaming for help. Maybe she wants attention, maybe she really wants to die, but either way, this is not normal and should be assessed by a professional. If you’ve talked and talked to her and she is repeating the same patterns, you need to seek help. I am going to apologize ahead of time if I am over-reacting, but I rather do that than just tell you it will be okay. I’ve lost several friends to suicide or murder. This shouldn’t happen.

    Read here:

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