Why We Wonder If We Are Toxic: Action Items

In this post, we are going to cover some things you can do in order to investigate why you might be wondering if you are the toxic one. If you'd like to know more about the theory behind these actions or learn about some examples of what this might look like, be sure to check out our earlier posts in this series! 

The first thing you can do is work on identifying the source of your questioning.

Earlier we covered that toxic people sometimes cause us to worry about our own levels of toxicity as a tactic to control us. Now, if we can identify the source behind our question "Am I the toxic one" we can sort out whether this is a question we need an answer to, or whether this is something the toxic person in our lives is using to distract us. 

The way I recommend doing this is through writing your story. Specifically, write out how you first came to wonder if you are the toxic one. 

Now here I am saying "writing" but you could also record yourself explaining your story, talk it out with someone you trust, or try drawing it all out. Pick whatever media is going to help you reflect the best. 

Here are some question's you'll want to try to answer as you work on your story

  • What was the date, roughly, when you first started to wonder if you were the toxic one?
  • What was going on in your life during that time?
  • Why did you start to ask this question at that time, but you didn't ask it earlier in your life?
  • Have any people in your life suggested that you are a toxic person? Do those people have any reasons to benefit from suggesting that you are a toxic person?

The next action item you can complete is laying out the evidence you have in favor of the idea that you are the toxic one. Since we know that toxic people like to use the charge that others are toxic as a way to control us, we need to take a good look at the evidence we are using in order to explore this question. If it turns out that most of the evidence is coming from someone we suspect is a toxic person, then we have some reason to think that our asking this question is in part caused by the toxic person. 

For this action item, I recommend making a list of all the evidence you've collected that you may be the toxic one. You can do this on a piece of notebook paper, on google sheets or excel, whatever medium works best for you. 

Once you have this list, I want you to label the evidence into one of three categories. If you can't put every piece of evidence into one of these categories that's fine. Try to sort as many pieces as you can into one of the following: 

  • Self-reflection: these pieces of evidence were created as a result of your own thinking about your behavior
  • TP Testimony: these pieces of evidence were created as a result of something the toxic person in your life said to you.
  • O Testimony: these pieces of evidence were gathered from things other people said to you

Once you have your sorted evidence, tally up how many of each kind you have. 

If most of the evidence on your list is TP Testimony, then you may be wondering if you are the toxic one because the actual toxic person in your life is trying to avoid criticism and exert control over you.

If most of the evidence on your list is O Testimony, then two different things may be happening

Its possible that the toxic person in your life is influencing the ideas of other folks in your life. If most of the O Testimony is coming from folks you believe have a close relationship with the toxic person then this may be more evidence related to the TP Testimony

If the O Testimony is coming from folks who do not engage with the toxic person in your life, then this may be authentic evidence that you at least sometimes engage in toxic behavior.

If most of the evidence on your list is Self-reflection, then you may have some reason to think that the question of whether you are a toxic person is genuinely coming from you. 

Whether this is the case or not depends largely on how independently you think from the toxic person in your life. If your self-reflection is heavily influenced by the toxic person, then these instances may be better labeled as TP Testimony than self-reflection. The more you are independently and authentically reflecting on this question of toxicity for yourself, the more you may be interested in the question for reasons other than the influence of toxic people in your life.

Now there are a couple of important things I want you to remember as you are going through these action items. 

First, only a licensed mental health provider can officially diagnose anyone. Second, it is totally normal for human beings to occasionally engage in toxic behaviors. Third, these action items are designed for you to learn how to reflect on your own experiences and structure your own thinking. Finally, as you go through these exercises, please be mindful of your own mental health and your emotional needs. If you find that you need some support, please seek it out. If you find yourself in a state of crisis, you can always reach out to the Crisis Text Line and speak with one of their trained crisis counselors. 

That's it for this week's action items. Stay tuned for our blog series next week on what it means if you are seriously considering that you are the toxic one. And if you want to think more about these topics, be sure to check us out on YouTube, our Podcast, and over on Instagram @empowermentthroughthought


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