I recently had an eye-opening moment that really made me stop and think. It’s been on my mind constantly, and it’s motivating me to dig deep and identify and change other negative behaviors in myself. I’m on a mission to uncover and work on my own toxicity. So, this week, we’re discussing Toxic Traits: How to Identify Your Negative Habits.
As for the moment that got me thinking, it happened during a breakfast conversation with my husband Mike, and his brother. We were talking about supernatural experiences, and Mike started to tell a story about our visit to “The Most Haunted Road in Florida.” I interrupted him, saying something like, “You’re not telling this story right. You’re leaving out important details.” I then proceeded to tell the story myself. After breakfast, Mike went to spend time with his brother, and I went to the grocery store to prepare dinner. But I couldn’t shake off what I had done.
I began questioning my actions. Did I really have so little faith in my husband’s storytelling abilities that I couldn’t let him tell the story, even if he got some parts wrong or left out some details? How many times have I done this to him?
Now, it’s been six days, and I’m still reflecting on this incident. It prompted me to reflect on my behavior and made me realize that I needed to uncover and address my own toxicity and faults.
Defining Traits and Habits
Before we dive into the process of identifying and addressing these behaviors, let’s clarify what we mean by traits and habits.
Toxic Traits: These are personality traits or behaviors that can harm relationships, hinder personal growth, and negatively impact one’s life and the lives of others. They often stem from unresolved emotional issues, past experiences, or maladaptive coping mechanisms. These can manifest in various ways, such as excessive criticism, controlling behavior, passive-aggressiveness, or emotional manipulation.
Negative Habit: Refers to recurring actions or behaviors that are detrimental to our well-being, productivity, and personal development. These habits include procrastination, overeating, excessive screen time, or substance abuse. These habits can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health and can hinder our ability to achieve our goals.
Identify Your Negative Habits
Now that we have a clear understanding of what these negative traits and habits are, it’s time to explore how to recognize and identify these behaviors in ourselves. Here are some steps you can follow:
- Self-Reflection: Begin by taking a step back and examining your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Think about situations where you may have acted in ways that made you feel uncomfortable, regretful, or that negatively affected others. Pay attention to recurring patterns of behavior.
- Seek Feedback: Sometimes, others can provide valuable insights into your behavior. Ask for honest feedback from friends, family, or coworkers. They might identify traits or habits that you may not have noticed.
- Journaling: Keeping a journal can be a powerful tool for self-discovery. Write about your experiences, interactions, and feelings. This can help you identify trends and recurring themes in your behavior.
- Identify Triggers: Understand what triggers your traits or habits. What situations, emotions, or stressors lead to these behaviors? Identifying the triggers can be a crucial step in addressing them.
- Evaluate Your Reactions: Consider how you react to different situations and people. Are your responses healthy and constructive, or do they tend to be destructive and hurtful? Pay attention to whether you often respond with anger, defensiveness, or avoidance.
- Compare Yourself to Your Ideal Self: Reflect on the person you aspire to be. Are your behaviors aligning with your values and aspirations, or are they straying from the path you want to follow?
Toxic Traits and Negative Habits
I found it quite challenging to reflect on the traits and habits I might possess. I had never really given it much thought and wasn’t sure what qualified as a negative habit. However, after doing some research, I compiled a list of 50 such traits along with examples and suggestions for improvement. Some of these I didn’t even know were toxic… Like Sarcasm. I am sarcastic as fuck and never thought this was a toxic trait.
It wasn’t until I went through this list one by one that I came to the surprising realization that I had more negative traits than I initially believed. It was quite eye-opening. I encourage you to read through this list to identify your negative habits like I did one by one and be completely honest with yourself.
- Arrogance: Excessive pride or self-importance.
Example: Always believing you’re right and dismissing others’ opinions.
Change: Practice humility, actively listen to others, and consider different viewpoints.
- Narcissism: Excessive self-centeredness and a lack of empathy.
Example: Constantly seeking attention and validation.
Change: Work on empathy, consider the feelings of others and seek professional help if needed.
- Manipulativeness: Using deceit or cunning to control or influence others.
Example: Playing mind games to get your way.
Change: Practice honesty and open communication in your relationships.
- Jealousy: Feeling resentment towards others’ success or possessions.
Example: Feeling envious when a friend accomplishes something.
Change: Focus on self-improvement and celebrate others’ achievements.
- Impulsivity: Acting without thinking about the consequences.
Example: Making hasty decisions that lead to regrets.
Change: Develop impulse control, and take a moment to think before acting.
- Passive-Aggressiveness: Expressing hostility indirectly.
Example: Giving the silent treatment or making sarcastic comments.
Change: Learn to express your feelings openly and honestly.
- Lying: Dishonesty or deception in communication.
Example: Telling lies to avoid responsibility.
Change: Practice honesty and take responsibility for your actions.
- Entitlement: Believing you deserve special treatment or privileges.
Example: Expecting others to cater to your needs without reciprocating.
Change: Cultivate gratitude and work for what you want.
- Judgmental Attitude: Constantly critiquing and criticizing others.
Example: Always finding fault in people or their choices.
Change: Practice empathy and focus on the positive aspects of others.
- Inflexibility: Resistance to change and new ideas.
Example: Refusing to consider alternative solutions.
Change: Embrace adaptability and be open to new experiences.
- Gossiping: Spreading rumors or personal information about others.
Example: Talking behind someone’s back to damage their reputation.
Change: Refrain from participating in gossip and redirect conversations to positive topics.
- Moodiness: Rapid and unpredictable shifts in emotions.
Example: Being happy one moment and irritable the next.
Change: Seek therapy or counseling to manage your emotions more effectively.
- Chronic Negativity: Always focusing on the downside of situations.
Example: Complaining about everything, regardless of the circumstances.
Change: Practice gratitude and look for the silver lining in challenging situations.
- Controlling Behavior: Attempting to dictate or manipulate others’ actions.
Example: Trying to control every aspect of your partner’s life.
Change: Respect others’ autonomy and boundaries.
- Sarcasm: Using mocking or ironic language to belittle others.
Example: Making sarcastic comments to demean someone’s intelligence.
Change: Be mindful of your words and choose constructive communication.
- Victim Mentality: Blaming others for your problems and avoiding responsibility.
Example: Always playing the victim and not taking ownership of your actions.
Change: Take responsibility for your choices and actions.
- Dishonesty with Self: Ignoring or denying your flaws and problems.
Example: Refusing to acknowledge personal shortcomings.
Change: Engage in self-reflection and self-improvement.
- Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for yourself and others.
Example: Constantly striving for flawlessness and becoming anxious when things aren’t perfect.
Change: Set achievable goals and learn to accept imperfections.
- Pessimism: Expecting the worst outcomes in every situation.
Example: Believing that nothing will ever go right.
Change: Challenge negative thought patterns and look for positive possibilities.
- Defensiveness: Reacting aggressively or dismissively to criticism.
Example: Becoming hostile when someone offers feedback.
Change: Learn to accept constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity for growth.
- Insecurity: Excessive self-doubt and seeking constant validation.
Example: Always needing reassurance from others.
Change: Work on building self-confidence and self-compassion.
- Lack of Boundaries: Overstepping others’ personal space or not respecting their boundaries.
Example: Invading someone’s privacy without permission.
Change: Learn to establish and respect healthy boundaries in your relationships.
- Passivity: Avoiding confrontation and not standing up for yourself.
Example: Letting people take advantage of you without protest.
Change: Develop assertiveness and learn to communicate your needs and feelings.
- Ingratitude: Failing to appreciate what you have and constantly wanting more.
Example: Always desiring what others have and never feeling satisfied.
Change: Practice gratitude and focus on the present.
- Dependency: Relying too heavily on others for emotional or financial support.
Example: Being unable to make decisions or take care of yourself.
Change: Learn to be more self-sufficient and develop a support network.
- Procrastination: Habitually delaying tasks or responsibilities.
Example: Putting off important work until the last minute.
Change: Develop time management skills and set achievable goals.
- Deflection: Shifting blame onto others to avoid responsibility.
Example: Blaming a colleague for a mistake you made.
Change: Own up to your errors and work to correct them.
- Sabotaging Relationships: Engaging in behaviors that harm your relationships.
Example: Picking fights with loved ones for no reason.
Change: Seek therapy or counseling to improve your relationship skills.
- Chronic Complaining: Constantly expressing dissatisfaction with life.
Example: Finding fault in even the smallest inconveniences.
Change: Practice positive thinking and work on problem-solving.
- Unreliability: Not following through on commitments or promises.
Example: Consistently canceling plans with friends at the last minute.
Change: Be more mindful of your commitments and stick to them.
- One-Upping: Always trying to outdo others in conversation.
Example: Whenever someone shares an achievement, you mention a bigger one.
Change: Practice active listening and be genuinely interested in others’ stories.
- Gaslighting: Manipulating someone into doubting their own perception of reality.
Example: Denying an event ever occurred when you were clearly in the wrong.
Change: Educate yourself on healthy communication and practice empathy.
- Lack of Empathy: Being unable to understand or share others’ feelings.
Example: Dismissing someone’s grief or struggles with a lack of compassion.
Change: Practice active listening, try to see things from others’ perspectives, and work on developing empathy.
- Competitiveness: Always needing to be better than others.
Example: Turning everyday activities into contests.
Change: Embrace cooperation and recognize that you can learn from others instead of always needing to outperform them.
- Overcriticalness: Having unrealistic standards for yourself and others.
Example: Nitpicking every minor flaw in your work or in others.
Change: Develop a more balanced and constructive approach to criticism.
- Blame-Shifting: Avoiding responsibility by shifting blame to others.
Example: Accusing a friend of causing your problems.
Change: Take ownership of your actions and their consequences.
- Rigidity: Refusing to adapt or compromise in situations.
Example: Insisting on your way without considering alternatives.
Change: Practice flexibility and compromise in various aspects of your life.
- Lack of Self-Control: Giving in to impulses without restraint.
Example: Binge-eating when stressed or buying unnecessary items impulsively.
Change: Develop self-discipline and find healthier coping mechanisms.
- Passing Judgment on Appearances: Making assumptions based on physical appearances.
Example: Judging people solely by their clothing or appearance.
Change: Challenge stereotypes and get to know people beyond their appearances.
- Victimizing Others: Making others feel responsible for your emotional well-being.
Example: Making someone feel guilty for not meeting your emotional needs.
Change: Work on self-soothing and take responsibility for your own emotions.
- Spitefulness: Harming others intentionally out of revenge.
Example: Sabotaging a colleague’s project to get back at them for a disagreement.
Change: Seek healthier ways to address conflicts and find resolution.
- Toxic Positivity: Invalidating others’ negative emotions with overly positive responses.
Example: Telling someone to “just be happy” when they’re going through a tough time.
Change: Show empathy and allow space for others to express their true feelings.
- Selective Listening: Only hearing what you want to hear and ignoring the rest.
Example: Disregarding feedback that contradicts your beliefs.
Change: Actively listen to all perspectives, even if they challenge your opinions.
- Over-competitiveness: Making everything a competition, even with friends.
Example: Turning a friendly game into a heated rivalry.
Change: Learn to enjoy activities without needing to win or be the best.
- Undermining Others: Deliberately sabotaging others’ success.
Example: Spreading false rumors about a colleague to harm their reputation.
Change: Support others in their pursuits and celebrate their achievements.
- Micromanagement: Excessively controlling or monitoring others.
Example: Hovering over your employees and not trusting them to do their jobs.
Change: Delegate tasks and trust others to complete them in their own way.
- Impatience: Getting frustrated easily when things don’t go your way.
Example: Honking and yelling at slow drivers in traffic.
Change: Practice patience and mindfulness, and recognize that not everything is within your control.
- Ignoring Feedback: Rejecting constructive criticism and refusing to change.
Example: Dismissing your boss’s feedback on your work.
Change: Accept feedback graciously and use it to improve.
- Scarcity Mindset: Believing there’s not enough to go around, leading to hoarding and selfishness.
Example: Refusing to help others for fear of losing something yourself.
Change: Adopt an abundance mindset and share your resources with others.
- Apathy: Showing a lack of interest or enthusiasm for anything.
Example: Feeling indifferent to the problems and needs of others.
Change: Reconnect with your passions and show empathy toward others.
My Personal Journey
In my quest to identify and address my own toxic traits, I have been following the steps mentioned above. The incident at breakfast was a catalyst for my self-reflection, but I knew it was just the tip of the iceberg. As I delved deeper, I uncovered several areas where my behavior exhibited signs of toxicity traits and negative faults.
The list I made was of 50 being completely honest with myself. 32 negative habits I have seen myself do in the present or have in the past before. 22 of them I am no longer doing and that is just in the past 4 years of being on my personal growth journey.
- Controlling Behavior: One of my major toxic traits was a tendency to exert control in various situations. I realized that I often felt compelled to take charge and dominate conversations, making it difficult for others to express themselves fully. (this is the one that started this whole blog post)
- Perfectionism: I discovered that I had a strong inclination towards perfectionism, which led to unrealistic expectations of myself and others. This often resulted in criticism and disappointment when things didn’t meet these high standards. (this one I have been working on. Allowing self-compassion when I don’t do things perfectly.)
- Chronic Negativity: I recognized that I sometimes had a habit of consistently focusing on the negative aspects of situations and conversations, which often made me feel drained and discouraged.
- Procrastination: Procrastination was one of my negative habits. I would often delay tasks, convincing myself that I work better under pressure, but this habit caused unnecessary stress and affected my productivity.
- Victim Mentality: I observed that I had a tendency to blame external circumstances for my problems often, rather than taking responsibility for my own actions and decisions.
I could go through each one of these and give you examples for all 32 traits and habits. While reading this list I had story after story pop in my head. Back then I wouldn’t have been able to. I can look back and see how selfish, how victimizing, how much of a shitty person I was. I can say that now. It’s been 4 years and I have grown.
I can still see that I struggle with jealousy, moodiness, insecurity, and impatience (even though it was marked off on the list… I got highlighter happy) It is time to identify your negative habits.
Working on Improvement
Identifying these toxic traits and habits was only the first step. The real challenge is working on your self-improvement. I used to say self-improvement, but then I stopped because I got on the bandwagon of “if you say self-improvement that meant you were saying there was something wrong with you”. Now I don’t care because there is always room for improvement. From personal experience, I can say there was something wrong with me. Here are some strategies I’ve employed, and that you can use as well:
- Acceptance: The first and most crucial step is to accept that you have negative traits and habits. Be kind to yourself and recognize that nobody is perfect. Acceptance opens the door to change.
- Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Replace toxic traits and habits with healthier coping mechanisms. For instance, if you tend to control situations, practice letting go and allowing others to take the lead.
- Practice Empathy: Work on your ability to empathize with others and understand their perspectives. This can improve your relationships and reduce toxic behavior.
- Learn to Manage Stress: If your negative habits tend to emerge under stress, explore stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or exercise to help you cope more effectively.
- Change Your Mindset: Shift your mindset from one of criticism and negativity to one of growth and self-compassion. Focus on learning from your mistakes rather than dwelling on them.
- Self-awareness: Recognizing and acknowledging these negative traits is crucial. Self-awareness is the foundation for change. Reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors regularly to gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
- Set clear goals: Define specific, actionable goals for your self-improvement journey. Whether it’s reducing procrastination, managing anger, or improving communication, having clear objectives will help you stay focused.
- Seek support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist. Having a support system can provide valuable insights, encouragement, and accountability as you work on your personal growth.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help you become more in tune with your thoughts and emotions. They also provide you with the tools to manage them more effectively.
- Educate yourself: Learning about the underlying causes and triggers of your negative habits can be enlightening. It allows you to approach these issues with a more informed perspective and develop strategies to counteract them.
- Replace with positive habits: Identify positive habits that can replace the negative ones. For example, if you’re trying to overcome a tendency to be overly critical, work on cultivating a habit of constructive feedback instead.
- Stay consistent: Self-improvement is an ongoing process. Be patient with yourself and stay consistent in your efforts. Change takes time, and setbacks are a natural part of the journey.
- Keep a journal: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. It helps you track your progress and identify patterns in your behavior and thought processes.
- Accountability: Hold yourself accountable for your actions and their consequences. When you make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and use it as a stepping stone for further growth.
- Celebrate small wins: Recognize and celebrate the small victories along the way. This positive reinforcement can motivate you to continue working on self-improvement.
Just remember, working on your bad habits and flaws is something personal. It’s totally fine to ask for help if you need it. The important thing is to stick with it and be dedicated to becoming a better you.
In a nutshell, finding and dealing with your bad habits and negative traits is an ongoing journey that needs you to look at yourself, be patient, and keep at it. I’ve learned that recognizing these issues is just the beginning; real progress comes when we commit to making changes and growing as a person.
As you start your own journey to understand yourself and get better, keep in mind that we all have room to improve. Don’t be too tough on yourself, and don’t hesitate to get support when you need it. We all have the potential to become better versions of ourselves, and by acknowledging our issues and bad habits, we’re taking the first step toward positive change and personal growth.
Until next time, Have a great day! Remember you are a badass!