How to stop being a toxic person: 13 no bullsh*t tips

Image credit: Shutterstock - By Roman Kosolapov

Relationship after relationship have ended in bad breakups.

You seem to always get into arguments with your friends and family, even with new people you meet.

When it feels like there’s no one decent in this world anymore, the problem might not actually be everyone else. It might just be you.

It isn’t easy to accept.

But admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it, as they say.

So acknowledging your toxic behavior will help you grow as a person.

Once you’ve done that, you’re on your way to improving yourself.

Here are 12 things you can start doing to help you get started.

1. Be More Considerate of Others

Most people who are toxic don’t realize that they’re being toxic.

They think that what’s natural and normal for them, is also natural and normal for others too – but that isn’t true.

What people find hurtful varies, which is why being considerate of others is so important for maintaining good relationships and avoiding toxicity.

Maybe someone pulled you aside before and told you they didn’t appreciate what you said before.

Now, before you say something that might be hurtful to others, try to put yourself in your friends’ shoes.

Ask yourself: How would they feel if I said this?

2. Stop Passing Along the Blame

It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when you mess up and there are people angry, looking for who did it.

No one wants to be in the hot seat. But you have to also understand that we’re all human.

And one of the defining features of being a human is being imperfect.

Maybe before you passed on the blame for something because you didn’t want to look bad.

You rationalized it to yourself saying that you only acted that way because another person was being anxious and you were influenced by their anxiety.

In any case, not being accountable for your actions will only spread the toxicity around even more.

3. Learn how to Apologize Properly

One of the most important things one should learn is how to properly apologize.

Simply saying, “Sorry” isn’t actually enough sometimes.

Sure, you may say that you mean it with every bone in your body when you say Sorry, but if you keep going about your old ways, then that Sorry might as well be as valuable as using a water gun to douse a fire.

A true apology must be genuine and needs to also come with an acknowledgment of your actions.

Admit your mistakes and try to avoid doing them again. The best apology is changed behavior.

4. Don’t Be Too Quick to Judge Others

People aren’t “weird”; you’re just judging them too quickly.

Being too judgemental is one of the most common traits of toxic people.

If someone acts in a way you aren’t used to, it might not be because they’re “weird”, but because of how they grew up.

Judging them quickly and telling your friends about it will only spread negativity and hate.

Instead of quickly calling them names, try to get to know them first.

They might just surprise you with how “normal” they actually are.

5. Follow Through on What You Say You’ll Do

Not following through with what they say they’ll do is a common toxic trait.

The more you say and less you actually do, the less meaning your words have.

You keep telling people that you’re going to start a business, volunteer somewhere, travel the world – but you never change your ways.

Your words become hollow and you end up only lying to others and yourself.

Instead, you can ask yourself, what do you actually want to do?

And what’s stopping you from doing them?

This might help you finally get started on following through.

6. Stop Trying to One-Up Others

When someone shares a traumatic story from their life, that isn’t an invitation to interrupt and share your even more traumatic story.

Sure, you may have good intentions for doing so – you want to tell them that you understand them – interrupting them might only make them feel invalidated.

Toxic people often do this to use self-pity to turn the spotlight to them.

Instead of saying, “You should consider yourself lucky, when I had to go through something, it was much worse”, you can try not saying anything at all.

Don’t just be waiting to reply, but actually try listening.

You might even realize that they just needed to express their emotions more than have a conversation.

7. Realize It Isn’t Your Job to Fix Others

It’s true that when some people go through tough times, they need help.

Just because someone shows they need help doesn’t mean that they need help from you.

Don’t take it personally.

But imposing your helping hand on someone may not make them feel very good, no matter how well-intentioned you may be.

Try to stop giving advice to people who don’t even ask for it.

They aren’t asking for a reason: because they don’t need to hear it right now.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to be there with them, even in silence.

They might just have needed a space for them to be heard.

Forcing your help on them may only make them feel much worse.

8. Stop Imposing Your Beliefs onto Others

When you’re passionate about your ideas, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that your ideas are the best and that your thoughts are the “correct” way of seeing things.

But people aren’t going to blindly accept something other people say. People have their own beliefs.

When you impose yours on them, you may actually subtly be telling them that what they believe is wrong – which isn’t always true.

Instead of telling people that your idea is the best idea, try thinking of it as more of a suggestion.

There’s also a high chance that you’re wrong about your idea too.

9. Actually Listen to People

It’s so easy nowadays to pull out our phone and start scrolling through social media, even when you’re sitting across another human being.

Having your phone in your hand or on the table while talking to someone might signal that they aren’t as important to you; the phone is more important than them.

It can be easily read as being disrespectful and toxic.

When they’re talking, put your phone down – or better yet, put it in your pocket.

Give your full attention to the other person and let a natural connection emerge.

10. Don’t Wait on Others to Do Something for You

You might be grumbling and angry about how none of your friends ever reach out to you to check up on you.

It’s as if you feel entitled to personal care from others.

But the truth is that no one spends as much time thinking about you as much as yourself.

You might call your friends fake and question your friendship, but they might actually just be busy trying to manage their own life.

There’s nothing but your ego stopping you from reaching out to them first.

11. Accept Your Insecurities

One of the reasons why people exhibit toxic behavior is because they want to hide their insecurities.

They pass the blame on someone else because they don’t want people to notice how clumsy or reckless they are.

Alternatively, they might draw attention towards them only to find the validation they can’t find within themselves.

Accepting your insecurities is much easier said than done.

But it’s an important step to take if you want to become less toxic as a person.

Learn to forgive yourself and accept your past for what it was: the past.

You have the chance now to be a better version of yourself.

12. Lower Your Pride and Ego

Another reason why people are so toxic is that they believe they’re entitled.

Maybe they grew up in a wealthy household, so they believe that everything should be given to them if they want it enough.

Or since they know someone famous, they’re entitled to the same level of treatment.

Their head expands and they become more detached from reality.

Lowering your pride and ego will take some time.

It might mean having to stay quiet in a meeting so that other people can shine. I

t might mean owning up to your mistakes, no matter how small they are.

But showing humility is going to help you grow so much more in the long term.

13. Becoming Less Toxic

Being toxic isn’t permanent. You can change.

Admitting that you are is already a courageous move forward to improving your life.

This doesn’t happen overnight, however.

Having a close friend by your side might help you on this journey.

You can tell them to call you out when your toxic side starts to show itself.

You can also speak to a professional if you really need to.

While the results may not always be obvious, one day you’re going to be able to look back and say how much you improved.

All because you decided to start today.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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