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Friday, 5 April 2019

Good vs Toxic People

It can be hard sometimes to distinguish between a genuinely good person and a wolf in sheep's clothing. Some people use a mask of feigned kindness or warmth in order to manipulate others, or they are attention-seeking drama queens who think the world revolves around their needs. All of us possess negative and positive traits (relative to a consensus of ethics) but I do believe that there are clear distinctions between genuine loving humans and toxic, unforgiving ones. Hopefully this post will help you sift the shit from the gold!

Personal Responsibility. A genuine person has a willingness to take responsibility for their shortcomings. A good person will know when they're in the wrong and come back and apologize, or look inside themselves to see what they did poorly. I'm constantly striving to be the best version of myself and am deeply aware of my strengths (empathy, talent, intellect, passion) as well as my shortcomings (neediness, obsession, over-thinking, self-pity).

If I were a toxic person I would never strive to change any patterns of toxic or destructive behaviour. A person who often blames others for negative actions and never seems to be 'in the wrong' is unwilling to self-reflect and look at their part in things. Of course there are times when we AREN'T in the wrong; if you are raped, bullied or brutally attacked then you're clearly a victim. But then using this status of victimization to emotionally manipulate others into feeling sorry for you IS a toxic thing to do, because rather than using a bad experience as a way to build character and inner strength, you merely use it as a tool for attention. Sadly this is a popular trend among certain socio-political circles right now, with people claiming 'victimhood' rather than taking responsibility where it's due.

Level-Headedness. I'm not the most level-headed person when in a frenzied state of anxiety or self-despair. But because I always want to be better, I constantly look back and see where I was self-depricating or blowing things out of proportion. Balanced and loving people are able to retain a sense of emotional maturity in a disagreement or argument. This doesn't mean they won't ever show strong emotions or react inappropriately. It just means that if they knew they were in the wrong they will come back and apologise, or they will listen to your side and work through both sides (in psychology this is known as mentalizing).

For someone with a tendency towards people-pleasing, I find it tough at times to stand up for myself and be firm with people for fear that they won't like me or will shout harder at me. But what I've noticed is that genuine people will always maintain respect and empathise with your side, and if they feel they have been wronged will say so politely rather than throwing a hissy fit.

Toxic people will rarely work through problems maturely, which is why it feels like you have to walk on eggshells around them because they may discard or flip out at you the minute you don't behave the way they want. This is why they have a tendency to suddenly break away or vanish after a disagreement; they don't want to build bridges or become better people so would rather emotionally discard others, leaving behind a trail or broken relations with others.

Goodness as its own end. Good, loving people do good things because they like to.They give to the homeless or support their friends' work because it makes them happy. Good people are wholesome and giving, and we like to help those we care about. A good person will stay with you when you're in pain or trouble, not because they're expecting something in return, but because they selflessly care.

Toxic people always want something, or use faux kindness as a means to an end. They will often go to great lengths to 'prove' they're good. Who's more genuine; a celebrity who quietly donates to charities because they believe in the cause, or the celebrity who documents every inch of their 'good Samaritan' act on their social media and in the news? Of course there is nothing wrong with putting acts of good deeds out into the public, but when it becomes a case of doing good things to provoke a response rather than for its own end, you can see the intentions are forced, not genuine.

You can be yourself. Good, loving people will never want you to be anything but yourself around them. People who constantly try to change you or fix you or put you down for the way you are are NOT loving people. For young people it can be hard to be yourself because everyone is so judgmental and quick to laugh at anyone who appears 'different.' (It's also tough because we're figuring ourselves out at that age and want to fit in with what is 'cool' or 'acceptable.') But as we mature, it's easier to see who is real and to have genuine friendships based on mutual acceptance and respect, rather than conditions of worth. We have the freedom to be our authentic selves, rather than some fake 'socially acceptable' self.

Wanting to help you grow. Good people build one another up and support each other. Toxic people just want you to root for them without supporting you in return. They take and suck everything from you without reciprocating any kind of support or encouragement for your dreams. This can be evident in simple interactions: if a friend constantly vents to you yet never listen to your problems, you can see they are just using you as an ear to moan to but have no real regard for you. Healthy relationships are based on give-and-take and mutual support, not 'do everything for me while I do nothing for you.' No wonder once you're no longer 'useful' to this person, they will cut you out of their life!

Sometimes we can be wrong about people and sometimes we can be right. I've mistaken good people for toxic and vice versa. But a good person will always be honest and upfront and never try to cheat or use you in any way. They will apologise for any sort of poor treatment on their part and expect polite respect in return because they have standards. Loving people are not 'doormats'; we treat others with respect and expect to be treated as such. If I had hurt or wronged someone without realising, I would respect them much more for calmly telling me what I had done, rather than them lashing out at me or using it as an excuse to play the victim.

Reading people can be hard, but through life and experience we can have more positive relationships and less toxic ones. Hope this helps someone; let me know any thoughts below! (And as a testament to my favourite show ever, thought I would throw in some relevant GOT pictures).

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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