We hear very often the use of the word 'toxic'person and I wanted to share some thoughts on this. Clearly, the issue is quite complex and could not be exhausted here, given the personal nature of the experiences that everyone has.
From varying sources we hear how to avoid 'toxic' people, how not to let the 'energy vampires' suck your energy, what to do to protect ourselves and others.
I am one of the people who do not believe that there are bad and toxic people but harmful and toxic elements within humans (manifested in behaviours) just like toxins in organisms, which are only one part of the organism among many others.
I think that this distinction is important because when we call someone ' toxic΄then' we seem to reject him as bad or harmful in his entirety, as a human being, thus, also rejecting the good elements that he has. I understand that it can be convenient for many reasons but it does not mean it is fair or reflects the truth of the person.
If we look at toxicity (or toxic behaviour) as an element of a human being, we can, apart from seeing other elements of this person, isolate the behaviour, understand where it comes from and perhaps respond more effectively than a total rejection.
Humans are an synthesis of our physical, psychological, mental and spiritual states and all of this is influenced to a large extent by the environments, the way and the dynamics in which we grow (and for the more metaphysical ones these experiences reflect the experiences of our past lives).
There are people who as children grew up in what we call a 'toxic environment', (clearly there are gradations of toxicity) which may have contained high drug or alcohol use, crossing of personal boundaries, omission of needs, abuse in various forms, etc. Such a child growing up in a teenager, young adult and adult (if he has not worked out and transcend his experience) will have learned to live in fear, insecurity and threat.
By extension he will perceive the world around him with elements of threat and strive, like any human being, to maintain a 'homeostatic position', the space, the behaviours etc, that is, in which he will feel safe in order to be able to build and develop a stable life on these foundations.
A man, for example, who has grown up in an environment with intense outbursts of anger that were followed by violence, punishment, etc. ether they will imitate the same behaviour in order to maintain his safety based on intimacy with power or will try at all costs to avoid relationships, situations and people who express or provoke the very feeling of anger that will remind him of painful experiences.
And there it is that unconsciously continues a toxic behaviour (many times and from generation to generation) because this person in order to maintain a safe and intimate position (limiting any threat), can adopt means and behaviours that become violent to others. For example, to identify only with the image of the wounded victim in a relationship, which is in constant need of care or perceives that bad things constantly happen to him from an abuser, not seeing how in this way they become the same aggressors by controlling the situation as victims and deliberately or inadvertently, they may hurt each other by blaming him as the sole responsible for their own situation.
Of course, relationships are bi-directional so there needs to be the other who unconsciously or consciously consents to play the corresponding role in the relationship game.
Recommended solutions? Self-awareness and empathy that lead to change.
If every person does not recognise exactly what he is doing, does not confront his experiences, the pain and the difficulties they hide, then he will always be prone and blind to such 'toxic' elements first within himself and then he will bring them into his relationships as the only secure way to connect with others.
The toxicity does not lie in the very essence of the person- pain and other difficult emotions are not toxic in themselves- but in the ways in which he deals with these feelings within himself and with others.
The perception and expression of pain, insecurity, anguish, fear, sadness, despair (lack of hope), rejection and other so-called 'difficult' emotions are vulnerable positions and are neither easy positions nor positions of power. They are true psychic events that we all have more or less experienced and which are essentially information about how we are connected with ourselves and with our environments in order to survive and live and thus evolve.
When we give them space and listen to them, to express them, to accept them and to love them, then we have no reason to hide them from anyone (unless we freely choose not to share them), let alone engage in games and strategies in relationships in order to hide them either from us or from others (and when the others express them to also reject them).
Thus, by understanding toxicity (to a large extent) we understand that it is a protection mechanism that a vulnerable person uses as the only known way to protect himself in the face of a perceived danger aand requires strategic moves and attacks ( Direct or indirect).
How one chooses to respond to such a situation is a personal matter..