Our society tends to encourage toxic behaviors, both in the media and in our real lives, leading many of us to think that these are normal, healthy behaviors. If you’re not paying close attention, you might accidentally fall into the trap of these behaviors yourself.
Here are 10 behaviors to avoid, and why they’re just not good for you.
Trying To Change a Guy
We’ve all seen a romantic comedy about a girl who loves a guy for his potential and feels the need to change him to make him into the perfect man for her. Though this premise can make for an entertaining movie, it really shouldn’t be romanticized. If you truly love someone, then you love them for who they are and you shouldn’t want to change them. I’m not saying you want them to be stagnant – it’s normal and healthy to want someone to grow and learn to become a better person – but you should never date a guy with the intention of changing him. This is unhealthy for several reasons: one, people will only change when they themselves have decided to, and two, trying to change someone will inevitably lead to heartbreak on either one or both sides of the situation.
Being Overly Honest or Too Blunt
We all know someone who prides themselves on being honest and “telling it like it is,” but they’re really just rude. Though honesty is usually the best policy, there’s a difference between being honest and being mean. Though I wouldn’t suggest lying, there are times where it’s best to keep your mouth shut if you’re going to say something hurtful. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all, and be respectful of other people’s feelings.
Being a “Ride or Die”
I’ve always been proud of being a good and loyal friend, but this sometimes opens the door for bad friendships. Not all friends are created equally, and there are some bad friends out there who will take advantage of you. It’s important to set boundaries in friendships to keep this from happening (which is also beneficial for your mental health). It’s important to recognize that being a good friend is more than supporting them unconditionally and saying "you do you." A true friend will point out your unhealthy tendencies (we all have them to a certain degree) with love and tact because they care about you. It may not be what you want to hear, but I’d rather have a friend give me tough love than watch me self-sabotage my life.
Not Looking for New Friends
I’ve known the majority of my close friends for at least 10 years. I’m the kind of person who likes to keep my circle small and filled with people I trust, but not all friendships age well. Some friendships are just for the phase of life you’re in. Some friendships fizzle out, and some become toxic over time. This is why it’s important to be open to making new friends. But that doesn’t mean you should let go of your old friendships that are healthy and thriving (life is too short to hold onto toxic friends just because you’ve known them forever) because you have room for both old and new friends in your life.
Treating Mental Health Issues Like They’re Personality Quirks
I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a little kid (I honestly don’t remember NOT being anxious) and with depression since I was in middle school, and it’s not fun. Unfortunately, it’s common to see others romanticizing their own mental illness. Though joking about it can be a useful coping mechanism (think self-deprecating humor), romanticizing something like anxiety or depression or seeing it as “cute” or “quirky” prevents you from getting better. Most mental illnesses are a lifelong battle where you need to work hard to cope with them, and romanticizing it just cheats you out of a happy life by refusing to get better.
Acting Like Your Life Is Perfect on Social Media
Though we all know that social media is a highlight reel instead of real life, there’s a fine line between not wanting to share the nitty-gritty of your life and making your life seem perfect on social media. We all go through hard times, and those are times where we should exercise greater prudence regarding social media. Would it be better to stay off social media for the sake of my mental health? Am I comfortable openly sharing about my difficulties on social media? What’s the wisest choice for me? It’s important to strike the balance between having your social media feed be your public persona and being authentic.
Talking Crap about Your Kids
I have yet to experience the joys of motherhood, but I don’t have to be a mom to notice parenting culture on social media is demeaning. Parenting is no walk in the park, but talking crap about your kids in public or on social media is just rude. It’s not funny or cute; it just makes you look like the type of bully that you don’t want your kids to be.
Talking Crap about Your Husband or Boyfriend
No relationship is perfect, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right to talk trash about our boyfriends or husbands in public. Though it can seem funny and be cathartic in the moment, all it does is make you look like a jerk. You wouldn’t like it if your partner did it to you, so just follow the golden rule. This becomes especially toxic if you develop a habit of talking crap about your husband in front of your kids – you’re essentially teaching your children to not respect or admire their father. Though your kids might be young, kids pick up on stuff like that, making it unhealthy for your marriage and family culture.
Saying You Need 'Experience' To Be a Grown-Up
“Come on, just live a little” is probably something you’ve heard before. When it comes to becoming an adult, our culture is obsessed with the idea that we need to live it up as much as possible before we settle down. Our culture encourages us to go through a "wild girl" phase that includes casual sex and partying so we don’t regret “making the most” of our youth. In truth, we don’t have to go through this phase to be fully developed adults, or to have a fulfilling marriage later down the road. You should never do something you’re uncomfortable with because of peer pressure, so it’s important to recognize that you don’t need to sow your wild oats in your twenties to be happy as an adult (married or single).
Self-Love and Only Focusing on Yourself
It’s important to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth, but there’s a difference between healthy self-acceptance and narcissism. Our culture’s obsession with self-love has morphed from helping us improve our sense of self-esteem to seeing no flaws in ourselves and refusing to grow. This phenomenon glamorizes selfishness, which is not only a bad look but also doesn’t let us find happiness outside of ourselves.
When society gives it’s blessing to unhealthy and toxic behaviors, it makes them seem less harmful than they really are. If your gut is telling you something is off, or if your personal experience isn’t jiving with societal norms, then it’s time to take a closer look at what’s really going on. You might have fallen prey to one of the “healthy and normal” behaviors.
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