We all need a strong support system to get us through the rough tides of life. But what happens when you have a toxic support system? How can you know if your friends and family are doing more harm than good? Let’s explore some signs that your support system is toxic.
What is a toxic support system?
Your support system refers to the network of individuals you have who can offer you mental, emotional, practical and even financial support in times of need. Our support system often helps to drive us forward, cope with stress and anxiety, improve our overall well-being and achieve our goals. Our support system generally includes –
- Religious or spiritual institutions
These people act as a source of motivation and support – people who we can rely on in our darkest days. A healthy support system helps us grow by being responsible, gaining knowledge and experiences, and learning from people who have overcome similar challenges. A toxic support system can make us feel lost and confused by deceiving, misguiding and misdirecting us.
This is why it is crucial that you make sure your support system is actually supportive and not harmful. Learning to identify a toxic support system can help you cut ties with people who are harmful for your well-being and build a new, healthy support system.
Related reading: What Is A Toxic Relationship?
Signs your support system is toxic
We often blindly trust our family and friends believing that they always want the best for us like we do for them.
Even when we are aware of our dysfunctional families or narcissistic parents, we find it hard to believe that they can be toxic or give us advice that can be harmful for us. Unfortunately, having a toxic support system is a reality we need to wake up to.
If you are wondering whether your relationships and friendships are actually healthy or toxic, then here are a few toxic support system signs that you need to know about.
1. They dominate and manipulate you
When your support system is toxic, you may feel like you’re being controlled instead of being supported to make your own decisions. Toxic family and friends will try to control and influence different aspects of your life, like your health, your career, your relationships and even your personal life.
You will feel that their support is conditional as it depends on how well you meet their demands, needs or expectations. However, they will pretend to have your best interest in their hearts.
Related reading: Family Dynamics
2. They have a negative vibe
When you have a toxic support system, you will be engulfed with negative energy instead of feeling inspired and motivated. They will always find fault in everything, nag and complain about the way you do things, criticize or minimize your accomplishments and will manipulate you to develop a negative and pessimistic mindset like them.
So if you notice a friend or a family member focusing on the negative aspect of whatever you talk about, then you need to avoid their toxicity.
3. They love to create drama
One of the most common toxic support system signs is incessant drama. Narcissists and toxic individuals, whether they are your mother, your father, your BFF or even your partner, can’t survive without their daily dose of drama. Whenever you have a bad day or hit an obstacle, they will feel happy about it instead of being empathic.
Your pain and suffering is a source of drama for them that they thrive on. If you feel your support system is feeding off your misery, then it’s time to cut them off and starve them.
Related reading: Toxic Friends: 10 Signs Of An Unhealthy Friendship
4. They love chaos
Just like getting attracted to drama, your toxic support system also loves to create chaos, conflict and confrontations. Regardless of what struggle you are going through, they start fights out of nowhere, bring the attention back to them and blame you for their misery.
They will make you feel responsible and guilty for their made up problems, while completely ignoring the real issues you are coping with. Although they may act like your biggest supporter, they will only spread toxicity in your life.
5. They are never genuine
Do you ever see your dad lecture you about something and then watch him do the same thing a few days later? Does your partner get pissed when you go out with friends, but they hang out with their friends all the time?
Hypocrisy can be often observed in a toxic support system as these people are never genuine. They don’t believe in the advice they give you and do the polar opposite in their personal lives.
They are fake people who don’t actually care about your well-being, they just want to look good and create the best impression by doling out the biggest lies. Stay away from these bigots and hypocrites.
Related reading: Toxic Romantic Love: Why Romance Turns Toxic
6. They never offer any ‘real’ solutions
If you seek help and support from a toxic support system, you will only be offered fantastical solutions that can never be implemented realistically. As your support system doesn’t really care about your issues, they will come up with impractical and illogical solutions that will get you nowhere.
If you tell your partner that you are having issues at the workplace, they may suggest that you put down your papers, without even considering the consequences of such a rash decision on your career and finances. Such individuals are not supportive, they are just toxic to your life.
7. They disrespect you
Do you friends and family always find your fault whenever you share your problems with them? Then you surely have a toxic support system. Toxic, unsupportive people will always criticize, demean and point fingers at you instead of validating your thoughts and emotions.
They will use their words, behavior and actions to break your confidence and self-esteem, instead of lifting you up to overcome the obstacles.
Instead of helping you find a way out of a difficult situation, they will insult you, making you feel incompetent.
Related reading: Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims
8. They abuse you
Having abusive loved ones is always difficult to cope with, however, it can be even more challenging when you are reliant on your abusive parents, partner or friends for love, care and support.
You know your support system is toxic when they abuse you physically, emotionally, verbally or even sexually. But as there are some subtle forms of abuse, you might not even be aware that you have an abusive and toxic support system.
Abuse is not always easy to identify, but if your loved ones make you feel inadequate or inferior all the time, then you need to take notice and find a new healthier, support system.
Do you have a toxic support system?
Apart from the toxic support system signs mentioned above, there are many other things that you need to consider to determine whether you have a toxic support system or not, such as –
- They behave in such a way that you should be able to read their minds and know exactly what they expect.
- They never take responsibility for their mistakes and always shift the blame on others.
- They believe your opinions and ideas are not as good as theirs and they always know best.
- They are gossip mongers and always talk about others behind their backs. It is likely they will talk behind your back as well.
- They make you feel marginalized, invalidated, frustrated and unwanted.
- They never ask what you think should be the solution and force their decisions on you.
- They become offended if you don’t follow their advice or guidance and instead find your own way out.
- They always take things personally and refuse to consider your perspective.
- They believe you are immature, crazy, childish or even stupid and so you can’t make the right decisions.
- They never show you kindness when you need it the most, but praise you when they need something from you.
Related reading: Things Narcissistic Mothers Say
Build more positive relationships
If you are stuck with a toxic support system and are left wondering “How do I strengthen my support system?”, then the first thing you need to do is start cutting ties with toxic people or at least stop relying on them for support. Instead, build new, positive and healthier relationships and create a new network of people you can trust.
Granted this will require some effort and patience, but nothing ever worth having comes easy. Right? So focus on new healthier relationships, instead of old toxic ones that suck all positivity out of you.
Related reading: Why You MUST Cut Ties With A Toxic Family Member
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What does it mean to have a support system?
It means having a network of trustworthy individuals who will have your back in times of need and provide the necessary support. They help you cope with life challenges and support you through hardships.
What is a good support system?
A good support system involves people who help each other out. People who guide one another through hardships without judgment or criticism. They validate your emotions and boost your confidence when you need it most.
How do I strengthen my support system?
Some ways to build a stronger support system involve joining a club or a gym, expanding your professional network, connecting with coworkers, neighbors & relatives, pursuing your interests, volunteering etc.