“Toxic” has become a cliché in recent years. Toxic relationships. Toxic workplaces. Toxic friendships. Toxic masculinity. In fact, “toxic” was the 2018 Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the year. But despite its overuse, “toxic” is a concept worthy of notice and consideration.
How do you know if you’re in a toxic situation? Consider the word: Toxic means poisonous or, at the very least, harmful. A toxic situation is one that’s detrimental to your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
The Toxic Friendship or Relationship
Here are some signs to watch out for if you think you may be in a toxic friendship or relationship.
- You lie about your feelings
- The other person lies to you
- The other person calls you names, like “insane”
- You are constantly being corrected by the other person
- You are afraid to do something that the other person might disagree with
- The other person drains your energy
- You make excuses for the other person’s behavior
- You apologize often; the other person never apologizes
- You feel guilt and accept blame that doesn’t belong to you
- You are always on your guard
- You and the other person don’t trust each other
- The other person wants to control everything about you
- The other person doesn’t see you, your needs, or your values and beliefs as important or relevant
The Toxic Workplace
What about a toxic work environment? Watch out for these signs:
- Negative communication patterns
- Non-existent or poorly implemented policies and procedures
- Constant office drama
- Tyrannical boss
- An obvious office “pet”
- Mistrust of boss or co-workers
- People who are fond of saying, “That’s not my job!”
It goes without saying that we will each experience stress in day-to-day life. A bump in the road doesn’t automatically indicate that you need a new job or a new relationship. Working through tough times builds character and is just a part of life. But if you’ve tried your best to change address the dysfunction and you’re unable to change it, it just might be time to look for greener pastures.
Question: Have you ever experienced a toxic situation? How did you resolve it?
Written by Lisa J. Bjornstad, PsyD., LMFT