What does It mean if you are seriously considering if you are the toxic one? - Theory

Today's exploration of this question requires pulling on some of the BIG IDEAS from the last two weeks of this season. 

For your ease and comfort, I will briefly recap on the pieces we need to accomplish today's task. If you need a refresh on any of this stuff, I've gone ahead and include links back to those earlier posts, so feel free to click around if you find yourself feeling a bit confused. 

First off, we need to touch base with who the heck are these "toxic people." When I use the term "toxic people" as a blanket term for folks who have cluster b personality disorders. These include folks with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Some of the key features of toxic people include 

  • very insecure
  • cannot tolerate crticism
  • dedicate much of their efforts to avoiding criticism by trying to control others
  • focus on creating a narrative where they are the perfect ones and everything that is bad is because of others

Check out our Season 1 Week 2 Theory post for more on this stuff. 

When you are asking if you are toxic, you might be asking one of two questions: You might be wondering if you have a personality disorder OR you might be wondering if you sometimes engage in toxic behavior. Check out our Season 1 Week 1 Theory post for more on this. 

When you consider whether you are the toxic one, either in the personality disorder sense or in the occasional toxic behavior sense, you are wondering if something is wrong about you. 

Now remember, toxic people cannot tolerate criticism. In other words, toxic people cannot seriously entertain the idea that there is something wrong about them. In fact, toxic people go to great lengths to build a narrative where they are the perfect ones. 

So when you are wondering if you are the toxic one you are:

  • engaging in an activity that is fundamentally opposed to the core characteristics of toxic people
  • looking critically at the behaviors you have engaged in
  • considering that maybe the core of some of the problems in you life are stemming from your actions

You are not: 

  • deflecting criticisms
  • controlling the narrative in order to make yourself look perfect
  • focusing your energy on controlling others

So, if you are really authentically investigating "Am I the toxic one?" for yourself, then you are probably not a toxic person. This is because the very act of seriously engaging with the question is fundamentally opposed to one of the defining features of toxic people- they cannot tolerate the possibility that they are the source of problems in their lives. 

Ok, so it would be a mistake to think the situation was all really that simple. Notice how I keep using words like "authentically investigate" or "seriously consider." We have to recognize that there are ways to wonder "Am I the toxic one?" in a superficial way. 

Folks who are superficially engaged in this question are not really considering that they might be the source of the problems in their lives. Superficial engagement means that you are not critically evaluating your behaviors. 

Sometimes toxic people do superficially engage with the question "Am I the toxic one?" If the toxic person thinks either that appearing to consider this question will help them better control other people OR they are forced by circumstances to consider the question, toxic folks can consider whether they are the toxic ones. 

Toxic people usually engage in this question in a superficial way. This means that they are typically quick to dismiss any evidence that they might be toxic. Toxic people are usually quite eager to shift the conversation into one focused on blaming others and painting themselves as the victim. 

Because toxic people cannot tolerate criticism, they cannot stomach the possibility that they are the source of the problems in their lives. Seriously investigating whether they are the toxic ones would require that they challenge their fundamental characteristics. Thus, toxic people often find ways to avoid reflecting on the question "Am I the toxic one?" as much as possible. These folks are very insecure and are generally incapable of this kind of scary deep work. 

So, if you are SERIOUSLY considering whether you are the toxic one, then you are probably not a toxic person. Of course, this doesn't speak to the question of whether you sometimes engage in toxic behaviors on occasion. But serious engagement with this question does suggest that whatever your circumstance is, it is unlikely to rise to the level of full-blown personality disorder. 

If you want to think some more about this topic, be sure to check out our YouTube, Podcast, and check us out over on Instagram

Stay tuned for our next post. We'll take all of this abstract stuff and apply it to a real-world example!



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