You’re Toxic

By Darla Paniagua, Staff Writer

   The word “toxic” has become very commonly used, especially in today’s society. We use it to describe a single person, a couple, or even a group of people. They’re described as difficult and stressful people. People who ruin every relationship and friendship that falls into their lap. 

    There’s a controversy that toxic people are simply just born that way and that there’s no hope of them ever getting better. We all have toxic tendencies, some worse than others. The problem is not being toxic; it’s how can I stop it.  

   Everyone, whether they know it or not, has toxic tendencies. They could vary from the way you see or speak about yourself, the way you act towards people, or the things you say about them. It’s up to you as an individual to figure out where these tendencies are rooted and do your best to reverse the damage. No matter where they originated, it’s especially important to remind yourself to do the work to help yourself.  

    Everyone’s opinion of toxic people is quite different. I went ahead and decided to ask some of the students here at Miami High what they describe a toxic person to be, all anonymously. They were described as “not caring for the well-being of themselves or other people”, “narcissistic”, “manipulative, possessive, selfish, one-sided, close-minded, and can never be wrong”. Although this is true, there are some occasions where this isn’t always the case. One student’s answer really moved me: “Being toxic isn’t always intentional; some people are misunderstood.”   

    As a part of Gen Z, I can say that we are one of the most damaged generations. Damaged meaning, we had to grow up in divorced houses, had to deal with all types of abuse, and had to experience and deal with things way out of our control. Whether we like it or not, these interactions at such a young age can really leave an impact on us for the rest of our lives.  

    The environments we were raised in and the relationships we’ve had as young kids are most likely to be the same throughout adulthood. The patterns we learn as kids are embedded into our young brains. For example, the way your grandfather treated your father as a child is most likely the way your father will be treating you. This causes an ongoing pattern in households, a pattern that can’t be broken unless you realize it’s a problem.  

    Psychology Today published an article called, “3 Toxic Mindsets That May be Poisoning Your Life” where they spoke about a phenomenon that the Sigmund Freud called “the repetition compulsion”.  This means you repeat what is familiar, even if it’s unhealthy.  

     The things we see as kids and the way we see interactions are most likely going to be the way we communicate when we’re older. This happens completely unintentionally. You don’t realize you’re copying down your parent’s behaviors until you take a big, long look in the mirror. Because of this, we tend to blame our parents or environment for how we act, when in reality it’s up to you as an individual to see the signs and correct yourself.  

      Not only can you be toxic towards other people, but you can be toxic to yourself as well. Believe it or not, the things you say about yourself can really impact your mental health. The same article states that putting yourself in a victim mindset and saying things like, “Nobody likes me” or “Everyone leaves me” can eventually define your life. These phrases come from insecurities and can become a pattern.  

    No matter how you describe the word “toxic” or how you feel you relate to it, this is not a word you want to relate to you. It’s very important to dig deep and figure out what aspects of your life aren’t ideal and do your best to get rid of them.  


Books for people struggling to improve themselves 

  • What Happened to You?  – Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey 
  • The Art of Letting Go  – Damon Zahariades 
  • Toxic Positivity – Whitney Goodman 
  • Whole Again – Jackson Mackenzie  
  • The Myth of Normal – Gabor Mate