Again, this will be hard at first because it will feel selfish. But if you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know that flight attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before tending to others, even their own children. Why? Because you cannot help others if you’re incapacitated.
In the long-term, establishing and enforcing boundaries will be one of the most charitable things you can do for yourself and those you care about. They will preserve the best of you so you can share yourself with many wonderful people – not just the toxic ones who try to keep you tied up.
3. You’re open, honest and trusting with your dreams.
Sadly, many people opt to settle in life. So if you’re striving for big dreams and goals, you’re bound to attract the attention of a toxic person or two.
If you freely share your dreams and goals with them, they may view you as aggressive, greedy, unrealistic, or selfish. Driven by the fear that you might actually succeed, they’ll be ready with a word of discouragement. They’ll try to plant seeds of fear and doubt. And as you begin to make progress, they’ll double down on their strategy.
Never share your deepest dreams and goals with people who have proven themselves to be toxic or close-minded, even if they ask you about them repetitively. Be especially wary of people who have lots of opinions but never challenge their own views, educate themselves, offer positive alternatives, or take action.
To counteract their negativity, surround yourself with people who are pursuing similar dreams and goals and have a track record of success. Engage with those who lift you higher.
4. You’re really easygoing.
Most of us like being around easygoing people.
If you’re an easygoing person, you’re good at keeping your cool in tough situations and putting others at ease with a comforting word or witty quip. You’re also likely non-aggressive, patient and kind.
But the inner peace you exude is attractive to the toxic person who’s eager to disrupt the peace. They may misinterpret your apparent pacifism and conclude that you’re an easy target for their controlling ways. And in your weaker moments you may find yourself saying yes to them more often than you might realize.
Become aware of how a toxic person may try to take advantage of your easygoing ways. For instance, your polite words and gestures may be seen as an open invitation. Phrases such as “Sure, anytime you want,” or, “That’s no problem at all,” may be interpreted literally by a toxic person. They may respond by monopolizing your time for their own purposes.
Avoid the tendency to automatically commit to requests. Instead, make your default response: “Let me get back to you on that in ten minutes.” If you do say yes, be sure not to give the impression that your offer is open-ended.
5. Your sunny disposition is all-inclusive.
As the saying goes, opposites attract. Sometimes the positive light you shine attracts people who are craving the light themselves.
As a person with a sunny disposition, you’re often the one to strike up a conversation or light up a room with your infectious smile. These qualities make you a pleasure to be around but may also be attractive to certainly toxic people who ultimately want to hog everyone’s attention and make the conversation about “ME, ME, ME.” They are typically unhappy with themselves, and therefore look to others for validation. These people deserve respect, but you need to respect yourself too.
Understand that many unhappy people are unable to find joy within themselves – and they mistakenly believe that you can make them happy. They’re relatively easy to spot because they’ll go above and beyond to please you with flattery, gifts or idealization. They’ll be overly agreeable and willing to fulfill your requests or desires, as long as you give them a “yes” to everything.
These are warning signs that you may be in danger of falling under the obligations of a toxic person who will eventually expect you to pump up their ego 24/7. But the truth is, you can’t make them happy, even if you could oblige to their every need. And you’re almost certain to make yourself unhappy by doing so.