How to Change Toxic Behavior

Behavior is how we connect our intentions to our goals. If you are struggling with toxic behavior, your own or someone else’s, we’ve got 7 effective ways to move the needle in a positive direction. Here’s how to change toxic behavior – it begins with you and it starts right here.

People aren’t perfect, we all have our ups and downs. Relationships are perfect either, sometimes we have moments when we are not all that proud of our ability to navigate a conversation or a problem. But if you’re visiting us chances are you’re looking to improve your well-being, or support someone else’s, in some way. While there’s no secret sauce to self-improvement, there are lots of recipes to achieve happiness if you put in the time and effort. As in any journey, whether that’s on the ground or within yourself, there is always the first step. In terms of learning how to change toxic behavior, that first step is awareness. Recognizing toxicity in yourself or others is both a monumental task and a monumental step toward making positive change.

No matter how long you’ve been at it, this type of self-sabotaging behavior can certainly be turned around. The first thing to realize is that any type of toxic behavior, whether subtle or overt, has consequences. Often times toxic people show negative patterns of behavior because of past negative experiences. While toxic people try to control the situation, they never truly feel like they are in control.

Whether you’ve exhibited toxic behavior all of your life or “grew in to it” over the years, you’ve probably come to realize that nothing good truly comes from it. The same is true if you have allowed others to be toxic towards you over the years. Whether you’ve been avoiding confrontation, with others or even yourself, you deserve more. Avoiding or stopping current toxic behavior is a positive thing and here are the 7 positive ways to go about it.

Examples/Traits of a Toxic Person?

If you’re unsure whether you have toxic tendencies, take this opportunity to reflect on the attributes in this section. A person who exhibits toxic behavior contributes little or nothing that benefits others. Not only that, a toxic person’s behavior can even become detrimental. With that said, it can be really difficult to cope with a toxic person in your life, especially if one is in your family or a colleague with whom you must work closely. Toxic people tend to be counterproductive and talks negative most of the time, along with one or more of the following characteristics:

When it comes down to it though keep in mind that a toxic person’s personality is most often a result of insecurity. Just because you, or someone in your life is toxic, doesn’t make you a bad human being. It does mean you may need to get your hands a little dirty to start to work on overcoming insecurity and low self-esteem.

7 Ways to Change Toxic Behavior

1| Establish Mental Goals

The most significant thing you can do is have a positive goal to work towards. Your goal now is to eliminate toxicity and practice more positivity in your life. How do you achieve this goal? Well, going through the 6 other ways to change toxic behavior is a start. No matter what you do, do not lose sight of your why. Toxic behavior creates stress and unhappiness. It also strains relationships. Those are places you don’t deserve to be. So keep you eye on the goal as you begin to address the toxicity in your life.

2| Set Boundaries

The saying misery loves company doesn’t mean you love the situation you may be in. Chances are you’ve allowed toxicity into your life because it’s easier, or less scary, than change. Avoid relationship complacency by establishing boundaries. While it’s common to feel a sense of obligation, boundaries are healthy even in the best of relationships. It can be especially difficult when you are dealing with a member of your family, like a parent or sibling. Toxic people who are a part of your inner circle are likely to be excellent at guilt tripping. Don’t allow manipulation to overpower your well-being. You may need to just keep a healthy distance from certain people to save your own sanity. However you may also need to consider a more permanent solution and say goodbye to really toxic relationships. That goes especially for the ones which perpetuate you’re own toxic behavior.

3| Stay Active

It sounds a little cliché but the connection between the emotional and social benefits of physical activity are indisputable. This doesn’t mean you have to become a marathoner. Studies show that even simple daily physical activity, such as walking, boosts overall mental health. Simply put, staying active helps to maintain a positive mindset and attitude.

4| Accept the Past

How do you forget about a painful or regretful past? You can’t. But there does come a time when you must stop allowing the past to influence your everyday life and behavior. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean that you’re okay with any wrong actions you’ve taken or actions done to you. Accepting that your past existed without being emotionally tethered to it empowers you to no longer be weighed down by any heavy burdens you’ve been carrying.

5| Practice Self-Awareness

This is a big one. Without self-awareness you wouldn’t be reading this or seeking a way to improve your life. Being mindful of negative thoughts and inner dialogue enables you to interrupt any potential toxic behavior patterns that will follow. Practicing self-awareness is extremely important because it is how you stay focused on the present moment and redirect yourself when needed towards the positive. People who are aware of their mindset are more likely to hold themselves accountable for their behavior.

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6| Seek Support

Simply knowing how to stop toxic behavior isn’t enough. It takes time, resilience and self-compassion. If you are caught up in a vicious cycle of negativity that seems to have too strong a hold on you to walk away from, or it keeps sucking you back in, don’t carry the burden alone. Someone like a therapist or a professional life coach will have specific tools to share with you on an ongoing basis to help you wean out toxicity or that toxic person in your life.

7| Own Your Actions

Managing your life and taking responsibility for your actions is not only doing things like practicing self-awareness and establishing healthy boundaries. It means being accountable, not making excuses nor blaming anyone else for your toxic behavior. It’s also not making excuses for toxic people in your life. When you own your actions you empower yourself with authenticity. Living authentically keeps you moving in only one direction – forward.

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Final Thoughts on How to Change Toxic Behavior

Now is your time. Decide that this is the time to live your best life by using our 7 effective ways to avoid and change toxic behavior. Don’t allow toxic influencers or bad behavior to perpetuate your unhappiness and drain your energy. It’s never too late to learn from the past, nourish the present, and grow from your experiences. Recognizing and avoiding toxic behavior is critical to personal success and fulfillment, as well as enjoying healthy relationships. If you or someone in your life doesn’t act in your best interests, it’s time to call the shots by empowering yourself and putting your best interests first. Stop being so hard on yourself or beating yourself up for either your own negative behavior or times when others’ toxicity controlled your life. You are no longer part of the problem – you are now the whole solution.


  1. It can be so easy to let toxic behavior take over. Awareness and setting boundaries is key to keeping ourselves and our outlook healthy.

  2. I have known some toxic people in my life, so I appreciated reading this post. Not a lot of people want to talk about toxic behavior or people, so thank you for doing so!

    • Thanks so much Kaila. I agree, changing toxic behavior is challenging, but confronting and talking about it and taking responsibility for it to begin with can be even more difficult.

  3. I had a toxic family member, so it was hard to get them out of my life, but ultimately the best thing I did for my mental health!

    • Exactly Kez – thank you for sharing that. It can be agonizing to part ways with people who are not good for your mental well-being, especially when family is involved. But ultimately you must do what is best for you. <3

  4. Such important tips. These are great for trying to change any sort of behaviour, not just toxic behaviour.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. I think the examples of those traits are super important to recognize because its easy to overlook some. Very important post so thanks for sharing.

  6. One thing that people who have toxic behavior is that they dont like to accept their faults. The sad part about this is that when they dont have the ability or necessity to agree on their faults. People who have this kind of attitude will find a little bit difficult to over come this behavior.
    We should always stop and think for a second. This kind of quality is highly essential.

  7. Great tips here about how to deal with and change toxic behavior. I think when you have an outlet for your frustration and a way to put your energy in a positive way, that helps a lot!

  8. An important topic, beacuse I don’t think there’s one person in existence who hasnt experienced toxic behaviour at some point. I have unfortunately had to phase on or two people out of my life. I’ve also displayed toxic behaviours of my own in the past, but have worked hard on self improvement and that’s what counts.

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