Identifying and Changing Your Own Toxic Behavior

For most of us, it’s difficult to face the parts of ourselves that we don’t like very much. This is especially true when it comes to our own toxic behavior.

If you grew up in an environment where mistakes were harshly punished, or you were made to feel bad or wrong when you made mistakes, it can feel especially scary to take an honest look at your own actions and admit to missteps.

But, the road to self-improvement doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Working with a compassionate, nonjudgmental therapist to identify and target your own toxic behaviors can be very effective in helping spur positive change.

There are also some steps you can take on your own:

First, learn what toxic behavior is.

You need an external sense of good boundaries, healthy communication skills, and appropriate ways to handle conflict. No one knows what toxic behavior is without being taught by others.

Ask a caring friend what they have observed about you.

Many times, friends can see patterns of behavior that can escape us. Ask your friend to identify one or two behaviors you can improve upon.

View criticism as helpful information to improve, rather than a judgment of your worth.

Sometimes we need to hear hard truths about our behaviors from others. Criticism is hard because we often experience the criticism as containing the message “You are bad or wrong.” If, instead, you can view criticism as a chance for improvement, you’re much more likely to respond appropriately to the message.

Look at what behaviors you dislike in others and consider how it relates to your own behavior.

Often times, when we have a strong reaction to behavior from others, it’s because we have a tendency towards that same behavior and dislike that trait in ourselves. It can be helpful to switch roles and consider how you might view your own behavior if you saw it in someone else.

Be kind to yourself.

Whatever behaviors you’re experiencing, you are a fallible human being doing the best you can and trying to do better. When you show self-compassion by accepting yourself exactly how you are now, that’s when you give yourself permission to change.


Recognizing and changing your own toxic behavior isn’t about heaping criticism on yourself. It’s about self-improvment. Once you know you better, than you can start on doing better.

It’s normal to need help learning how to recognize your toxic behavior and change it, especially if you have been victimized by abusive and toxic behavior yourself. If you are ready to learn more healthy ways of relating to yourself and others, therapy is a great place to develop these valuable skills. Contact me today if you’re ready to get started!


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