Lesson 1 of 7 - free your true Self to guide you

Misleading Journalism

8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid

by Brett Blumenthal

Sheer Balance, May 13, 2009
via Yahoo News

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/news/toxic_ppl.htm

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      This is a classic example of harmful, uninformed journalism on lifestyle and relationship topics. See my comments after the article. The hilights below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW

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Although we like to think that the people in our lives are well-adjusted, happy, healthy minded individuals, we sometimes realize that it just isn't so. Personally, I've had moments where I'll be skipping through my day, happy as can be, thinking life is grand and BAM, I'll be blindsided by someone who manages to knock the happy wind out of my sails. Sometimes it is easy to write it off and other times, not so much.

Maybe you are a positive person, but when you are around a certain individual, you feel negative. Or, maybe you have an idealistic view of the world and when you are with certain people, you are made to feel silly, unrealistic or delusional. Or, maybe you pride yourself in being completely independent and in control of your life, but when you are around a certain family member, you regress into a state of child-hood.

Some of these situations, and yes, these people, can have a tremendously negative impact on our lives. And, although we are all human and have our 'issues,' some 'issues' are quite frankly, toxic. They are toxic to our happiness. They are toxic to our mental outlook. They are toxic to our self-esteem. And they are toxic to our lives. They can suck the life out of us and even shorten our lifespan.

Here are the worst of the toxic personalities out there and how to spot them:

1. Manipulative Mary: These individuals are experts at manipulation tactics. Is a matter of fact, you may not even realize you have been manipulated until it is too late. These individuals figure out what your 'buttons' are, and push them to get what they want.

Why they are toxic: These people have a way of eating away at your belief system and self-esteem. They find ways to make you do things that you don't necessarily want to do and before you know it, you lose your sense of identity, your personal priorities and your ability to see the reality of the situation. The world all of a sudden becomes centered around their needs and their priorities.

2. Narcissistic Nancy: These people have an extreme sense of self-importance and believe that the world revolves around them. They are often not as sly as the Manipulative Marys of the world, but instead, tend to be a bit overt about getting their needs met. You often want to say to them "It isn't always about you."

Why they are toxic: They are solely focused on their needs, leaving your needs in the dust. You are left disappointed and unfulfilled. Further, they zap your energy by getting you to focus so much on them, that you have nothing left for yourself.

3. Debbie Downers: These people can't appreciate the positive in life. If you tell them that it is a beautiful day, they will tell you about the impending dreary forecast. If you tell them you aced a mid-term, they'll tell you about how difficult the final is going to be.

Why they are toxic: They take the joy out of everything. Your rosy outlook on life continues to get squashed with negativity. Before you know it, their negativity consumes you and you start looking at things with gray colored glasses yourself.

4. Judgmental Jims: When you see things as cute and quirky, they see things as strange and unattractive. If you find people's unique perspectives refreshing, they find them 'wrong'. If you like someone's eclectic taste, they find it 'disturbing' or 'bad'.

Why they are toxic: Judgmental people are much like Debbie Downers. In a world where freedom rings, judgment is sooo over. If the world was a homogeneous place, life would be pretty boring. Spending a lot of time with these types can inadvertently convert you into a judgmental person as well.

5. Dream Killing Keiths: Every time you have an idea, these people tell you why you can't do it. As you achieve, they try to pull you down. As you dream, they are the first to tell you it is impossible.

Why they are toxic: These people are stuck in what is instead of what could be. Further, these individuals eat away at your self-esteem and your belief in yourself. Progress and change can only occur from doing new things and innovating, dreaming the impossible and reaching for the stars.

6. Insincere Illissas: You never quite feel that these people are being sincere. You tell a funny story, they give you a polite laugh. You feel depressed and sad and they give you a 'there, there' type response. You tell them you are excited about something and you get a very ho-hum response.

Why they are toxic: People who aren't sincere or genuine build relationships on superficial criteria. This breeds shallow, meaningless relationships. When you are really in need of a friend, they won't be there. When you really need constructive criticism, they would rather tell you that you are great the way you are. When you need support, they would rather see you fail or make a fool of yourself.

7. Disrespectful Dannys: These people will say or do things at the most inappropriate times and in the most inappropriate ways. In essence, they are more subtle, grown up bullies. Maybe this person is a friend who you confided in and uses your secret against you. Maybe it is a family member who puts their busy-body nose into your affairs when it is none of their business. Or maybe, it is a colleague who says demeaning things to you.

Why they are toxic: These people have no sense of boundaries and don't respect your feelings or, for that matter, your privacy. These people will cause you to feel frustrated and disrespected.

8. Never Enough Nellies: You can never give enough to these people to make them happy. They take you for granted and have unrealistic expectations of you. They find ways to continually fault you and never take responsibility for anything themselves.

Why they are toxic: You will spend so much time trying to please them, that you will end up losing yourself in the process. They will require all of your time and energy, leaving you worn out and your own needs sacrificed.

All of these personalities have several things in common.

1) the more these people get away with their behavior, the more they will continue.

2) Unfortunately, most of these people don't see that what they do is wrong and as a result, talking to them about it will fall on deaf ears, leaving you wondering if you are the crazy one.

3) Most of these people get worse with age, making their impact on you stronger with time.

Frankly, life is too short to spend your time dealing with toxicity. If you can, avoid spending mucho time with people who are indicative of these behaviors and you'll feel a lot happier. Have you encountered these personalities? What have you done? Any personalities you would add?

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Comments

        The best thing that can be said about this article is that it may raise readers' awareness of their and other people's behavior. As a veteran professional therapist and lifelong student of human behavior, I disagree with almost everything the author - who has degrees in architecture and a Masters in Business Administration - says.

  • She names 8 unpleasant behaviors, not personalities. Each of these behaviors is caused (I believe) by dominant personality subselves. So people with these traits are wounded and unaware, not "negative" or "toxic."

  • The author proposes that associating with such people will (vs. may) darken your mood, lower your self esteem and optimism, divert your focus and energy, and "shorten your life span" - in other words, you can only be a victim to these "toxic" traits.

        If your true Self guides your personality (Lesson 1) and you practice the communication skills in Lesson 2, you can stay centered, motivated, and upbeat no matter who you associate with. For specific examples of how to respond effectively to each of these "toxic" behaviors, see this after you finish reading here.

  • I see no evidence that unless confronted, these unpleasant behavioral traits "will get worse" and "cause greater impact on you."

      This is a classic example of uninformed pop-psychology writing that...

  • encourages interpersonal scorn and avoidance, vs. compassionate assertion,

  • promotes the myth of personality "types" rather than acknowledging subselves;

  • promotes the myth that "toxic" personalities can diminish you "against your will;"

  • promotes the myth that some emotions and people are "negative;"

  • advocates social avoidance as a coping skill, rather than learning how to respectfully assert and enforce boundaries with unpleasant (vs. "toxic") people,

      and this article...

  • is selected for broadcasting on the Web (e.g. by Yahoo) by unaware editors and publishers who promote and amplify these mistakes.

      This article is included in the Lesson-1 and Lesson-4 resources here because it illustrates how the media promotes epidemic unawareness of the toxic [wounds + unawareness] cycle that is silently stressing millions of people and crippling our society. 

       If you're a media amateur or professional, please read this.

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