People who see the worst in you
Those are the people who do not believe in you.
In fact, they believe that you are not good enough.
And they show no inhibitions in making you feel that way.
They expect you to behave and act and breathe and walk and talk as the piece of sh*t they believe you are.
And if you do not, they are there to remind you.
To them, you are but a projection of their insecurities, anger, resentment, and fears.
They see the worst in you because it reminds them of their dark side. Or because it makes them feel less bad, which is a cheap way to feel good about themselves. Or both.
Those people are toxic.
And because they are toxic, they want to feel better about themselves by making people around them look small and bad.
Toxic people do not accept the responsibility for their insecurities and project them onto others.
And even –or especially– when you do something good, they show up and keep reminding you of who you really are (according to their perspective, which is governed by their insecurities.). Subtly or explicitly.
They do not seem to understand that you have a good side and good days along with your bad side and bad days.
Now, you might be thinking…
But I do have a bad side. Even my good friends tell me that
Even my inner voice sometimes tells me that I have a dark side and that I am bad.
So, if I have it within me, maybe it is who I am.
After all, look at all the stupid shit I have done throughout the years!
If you were me, you would understand how bad I am!
Look, I get it. And not “I get it” in a cliché way of telling you that you are good, positive, successful, amazing, great, and god-like but you just cannot see it.
Why? because you are not; you are none of these exciting things. And you know that.
You are not this series of good things. This is easy to believe with the inner critic voice. But at the same time, you are also not this series of the bad things they say you are.
Read that again. My eyes are getting watery as I am writing this, and I need a minute.
You are not this series of bad things they say you are.
Your close friends are probably aware of your insecurities and idiosyncrasies.
But they are aware of more than that. They appreciate you as a person, warts and all.
And you, too, must be aware of more than the dark side and appreciate yourself as a person like your real friends do, if not more.
That is easier said than done, I know. It is an arduous journey and an uphill battle. But it is probably the most worthwhile journey you will ever have.
The most important battle you will ever fight is not against yourself, but for yourself.
We have a lot of sides!
That said, I want to mention something important.
This, what we have mentioned, does not mean that you can be shitty and act like a victim. Just because your friends are willing to accept your bad side, it does not mean that it is the only side they want to see.
Look, if you turn into a downer who is not only toxic but also not pleasant to be around and not willing to help yourself (more of a victim), people will not like to be around you that much.
Some will not even take you seriously or respect you.
And the interesting part is that they will not tell you that to your face. They will just start ignoring you or creating some boundaries.
Those are the good people. And because of your behaviors, those good people cannot reason with you.
Here is an interesting fact.
Most people do not like victims and losers.
Even victims and losers themselves do not like victims and losers!
So here is the interesting part.
Before handling the toxic people who want to define you only by your bad side, you need to look within yourself and make sure you are not acting like a helpless, broken victim.
Hard to admit, I know.
But it all comes down to this. Look at the way you treat yourself. Providing you are honest, it should give you enough insights to make your hair sit out.
Whose opinion matters?
So, we have 3 opinions so far about who you are
- Opinion #1: The toxic people who see only the worst in you.
- Opinion #2: Your friends. They are aware of your quirks but also your virtues. They like and respect you.
- Opinion #3: Your own opinion. It is likely to be influenced by the 2 opinions above but should not be shaped only by them.
- Another opinion would be for those who do not care about you at all. Those are most people. They will have a chit-chat about here and there and then forget about you. We will not discuss this opinion much in this article.
You need to get good at differentiating between the 3 opinions, for it can get messy sometimes.
The toxic people are, well, toxic and mean.
Your friends care about you.
However, we sometimes have those toxic people inside our social circle disguised as friends who are wise and charismatic.
You differentiate between those two types of people by understanding what is healthy and what is toxic.
You do that by working on the third opinion: your own opinion. One of the ways we can do that is by working on our self-respect.
It is a broad term that can mean so many things, but we will explain it to the best of our ability.
As ugly as it may sound, the more self-respect you have, the less you will tolerate toxic people. And vice versa.
Also, the more self-respect you have, the more healthy people will get drawn to you (a.k.a, friends who are sane and who care about you.)
Let us make this more practical.
Self-respect: The antidote to toxicity
I have covered self-respect in many of my articles.
But now, I want to discuss it in a way relevant to the context of this article.
Self-respect is, partially, about setting boundaries.
Set boundaries with other people
When you set boundaries, you tell people what you will and will not tolerate.
And most importantly, those boundaries must be aligned with what is good for your well-being.
They must be based on your own values and needs.
For instance, I do not tolerate people who always see the worst in me.
People who notice all the bad things about you and tell you how bad you are progressing. And show no inhibition in making you keenly aware of that in a demoralizing way.
If you are having a great day, they tell you that something is wrong with you today.
If you are wearing a nice shirt, they manage to find a flaw with it.
If you have good news, they will find it difficult to congratulate you.
And they always remind you of what they believe you are (how skinny/overweighted you are, how you have no sense of style, how you will always be the same piece of shit that grosses them out.).
I make it clear that I do not respect them (yes!) or accept this type of treatment.
Respect must be earned, and they did nothing to earn mine.
And I walk away from them, usually cutting them out of my life completely if they keep doing that.
And this is where assertiveness comes into play.
Setting boundaries is great. But, without assertiveness, it is nothing.
It is like having something valuable, which is good, but you cannot protect it.
You need to be able to protect and maintain your boundaries using assertiveness and boldness.
Whenever someone violates your boundaries, which are embodiments of your self-respect, you must stand up boldly and assertively for yourself. Not necessarily in an aggressive way.
Aggression and domination are needed in some situations more than others.
This way, without getting so technical, assertiveness is nothing but practicing the right to respect yourself and walking away with dignity from whatever hurts you.
Set boundaries with yourself
Yup, boundaries with yourself are extra important, though not usually discussed.
Just as you tell other people what you will tolerate and not tolerate, you need to tell yourself the same.
You need to have boundaries within your relationship with yourself.
But what does that mean?
Boundaries are reflections of your self-respect. And boundaries are also about what is good for you.
Based on these concepts, let us see what types of boundaries you can set when it comes to your relationship with yourself.
Letting yourself go and indulging in self-destructive behaviors is violating your boundaries with yourself.
Neglecting your health and looks is a violation, too.
Procrastinating, being lazy, and giving in to fear, and thus not pursuing what is good for you and not learning and not growing, is another level of violation.
It is as if the disrespect and boundary violation is not coming from other rude people. It is coming from within.
All of these behaviors are disrespectful because they are against your well-being.
They will make you look down on yourself in the long run.
Nobody is happy about themselves while behaving this way.
If you do not invest in yourself, you will invest in self-pity and self-hatred.
You will search for external sources of approval because you are not happy with who you are.
Yes, it takes self-respect to invest in yourself; however, investing in yourself also builds self-respect. Those things are interconnected and there is no need to go down the egg and the chicken discussion.
When other people violate your boundaries, you need assertiveness.
When you violate your own boundaries, you need self-awareness, discipline, and self-compassion.
Self-awareness is about being honest with yourself. It requires you to open up about who you really are and what you value. It takes courage and humility.
It also takes kindness and self-compassion because you do not want to give up on yourself. Too much self-awareness without compassion will turn ugly sooner or later.
All in all, be courageous and kind at the same time.
Discipline is about picking up the slacks and doing the work.
It is about investing in yourself. And no investment can be sustained without discipline and grit.
You need to commit yourself and do something in real life that is aligned with your well-being (a.k.a, your boundaries) and keep doing it long enough.
Do not tolerate disrespect from anyone, not even from yourself. And when you do not tolerate disrespect from yourself, you will not tolerate it from other people.
You will not allow other people to tell you who you are because, at the end of the day, they do not get to tell you who you are.