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Are You Toxic?

In psychology, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a phenomenon where people over-estimate their abilities--either cognitive or physical. The effect basically says that incompetent people lack the self-awareness to know they are incompetent. It states that as you learn more about a concept, you realize more and more how little you know about the concept. This is why when I was 16, I thought I knew everything, but by the time I graduated college, I realized I knew nothing. College and being on my own opened up the entire world to me, and I realized the vast amount of information, history, culture and life that I didn't even know existed. I knew so very, very little.

Broadening this psychological effect, we can extrapolate the following to apply to emotional intelligence:
❖ Emotionally unhealthy people don't know they are emotionally unhealthy.
❖ Negative people don't know they are negative.
❖ Toxic people don't know they are toxic.
❖ Narcissists don't know they are narcissistic.

I read an article the other day about toxic positivity. It got me thinking about the things we say that we think might be helpful, but are hurtful. Things we say that we think empower us, but enslave us. Things we think are positive, but are actually negative. That means that any number of us could be suffering from an emotional Dunning-Kruger Effect. 

Signs you could be suffering from an emotional Dunning-Kruger Effect

❖ Saying things like, "That's just me!" or "That's my personality--take it or leave it."  

Why it is problematic: You aren't taking ownership of your flaws or of any toxic trait you may have. Not only are you not taking responsibility, you are denying that we should be ever-growing and evolve past our toxic traits and behaviors. People who say things like "That's just me," have no desire to become a better person. 

❖Posting a lot of self-help or inspirational quotes on social media.

Why it is problematic: Posting inspirational quotes is great--if you actually ascribe to what the quote is saying. If you actually do it, then it probably isn't problematic. But if you are posting a lot of them--read that as more than one per day--then you need to take a serious look at why you're posting so many inspirational quotes.

❖Hating drama

Why it is problematic: Hating drama in and of itself isn't problematic. It's when you keep saying how much you hate drama, yet you're surrounded by it. Because if you seem to always find yourself in the middle of drama--guess who is the common denominator? 

❖Everyone is out to get you.

Why it is problematic: They just aren't. Some people may be, but for the most part, they aren't. People as a whole are incredibly selfish, and their motivations usually have to do with self--not trying to get you. This is a victim mentality, and it's toxic. 

❖You can't say thank you to a compliment

Why it is problematic: This signifies you need to examine the root cause. Do you feel unworthy? Do you lack trust in what other people say? Is there a self-esteem issue? Maybe there is unresolved conflict. Or it could be an identity issue, too. Any way you slice it, not showing appreciation or gratitude for a compliment signals that there is a deeper issue at root. 

❖You can't admit you're wrong

Why it is problematic: The bottom line is that you will be wrong sometimes. If you can't admit you're wrong, then you have a pride problem, and pride is not only a sin, but a relationship-destroying sin. 

"I'm brutally honest." or "I’m a blunt person.

Why it is problematic:  Being honest is great. Everyone should be honest, and we need more honesty in the world. But to be brutally honest is just mean. There must be grace in honesty. Saying someone looks like something the cat drug in is brutal honesty. They might look like hammered horse manure. But first of all, did they even ask? You can keep your mouth shut and still not be dishonest. If they do ask, how can you lovingly tell them the truth? "You look like you could use some more sleep," "Your hair needs to be brushed," or even, "You've looked much better," are still honest, but not mean.

❖You don't question whether you are emotionally unhealthy, toxic, negative or a narcissist.

Why it is problematic: Because people who are emotionally healthy, non-toxic and positive usually question themselves and their behavior a lot. They are introspective and think about not only their thoughts, emotions and attitudes, but how those affect the people around them. If you are not being introspective and thinking about how you affect others, you could be toxic. 

Ways to avoid the emotional Dunning-Kruger Effect:
❖Be prepared to face the fact you could be emotionally unhealthy, negative, toxic or a narcissist.
❖Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things to you. 
❖Question your knowledge about anything and everything. 
❖Ask others for their input. Listen to what they say. 
❖Seek the advice of a mentor you look up to.


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