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How Emotional Pain Creates Toxic Behaviour

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

How does emotional pain turn into poison? And exactly, what kind of poisons are we talking about here?

Well, when our emotional pain is hurting, it can spread into all kinds of poison, and that includes physical illness, mental wellness but what I to focus on in this episode, is a poison that tops over these two because it is very widespread nowadays - and that is toxic behaviours.

I am sure you have encountered toxic people in your life and once you have met them, you will want to stay away from them for the rest of your life.. Because you had tasted their capability in making you feel so miserable for the rest of the day and draining away all of your energy to the last drop.

But has it ever come across your mind, how do these people become toxic in the first place? And why do they carry so much negativity? And the million dollar question is, is it possible that we ourselves can turn toxic just like them, if yes, why?

Well the answer to all these questions is the long term suppression of emotional pain.

The emotional pain that is trapped inside us can turn us toxic, turn us ugly and even turn us away from people. Our pain expresses itself through the negative side of us, and that is how people start finding us full of negativity and draining.

So exactly what kind of emotional pain can turn us so venomous?

Well in this article, I am going to share with you 3 of the most toxic emotional pain that many of us carry, and the key toxic behaviours that they can produce in our life.

By bringing awareness to some of these toxic emotions, I hope that while we are all obsessed about learning how to stay away from toxic people, we actually pay more attention to learn the underlying cause of becoming toxic, so that we don’t fall prey to toxic behaviour ourselves.

EMOTION PAIN #1: INSECURITY and the toxic behaviours

Insecurity is the feeling of fear that you are not safe. You feel threatened and worried about your survival, your possessions, your achievements.

Insecurity also brings forward a deep sense of vulnerability, as if you have been stripped to the bone and left exposed in the wild open, for everyone to judge and harm you.

The most common pain event that lead to this emotional wound of insecurity usually stems from childhood or young adult days.

If you grow up in a family environment that you don't feel safe, this fear of being in danger or trouble becomes deeply rooted in your subconsciousness.

Or if you grow up in a family situation where your parents have to constantly worry about putting food on the table, this fear of lack and not having enough, can also stay in your belief system.

So what kind of toxic behaviour does the emotion of INSECURITY produce?

Toxic Behaviour #1 - We Over-protect Ourselves

Well there is nothing negative about wanting to protect oneself, but when this desire is driven by fear instead of love, that is where we start displaying toxic behaviours.

And that includes constantly being defensive against others, unwilling to listen and are easily offended. And the reason is because we harbour this subconscious belief that world wants to harm us, and our instinctive reaction is to fight them off.

When we are in such a fearful survival mode to keep ourselves safe, sometimes we may wrongfully hurt and push away the people who are just trying to help us and care for us.

That's how eventually others may find it difficult to deal with our constant fighting mode and stay away for good.

Toxic Behaviour #2 - We Cannot Stop Worrying

Have you come across someone who says "but I'm worried if…" all the time? There is always something to worry about, no matter what you tell them.

We see this very often in a workplace setting where there will be someone in the meeting room who will constantly raise their concerns and put down any idea that is presented, without giving any constructive alternatives.

That behaviour is the mirror of insecurity. Insecurity breeds doubt and disbelief that anything good can come up. So even it is really something good happening, they will deny it.

Sometimes, we may even take it to the extreme to make worrying a hobby. I'm not sure if you notice in your family, but in my impression, I always remember how my old grandmother will sit in the couch all day to do nothing but worry. She will be worried about my grandfather, my father, the weather, the cooking, the neighbours, money, children, health… the list goes on.

I used to feel annoyed and impatient whenever she began her ranting but now I realise that it was actually her emotional pain of insecurity speaking.

You can do a quick self-reflection now, whenever you have a conversation with someone, whether it is at work, at home or with your friends, how much of the conversations are around what you worry? And how often do you respond with a worry in your mind?

If it is more than half of the time, it is a red flag that something toxic is brewing.

EMOTION PAIN #2: UNWORTHINESS and the toxic behaviours

Unworthiness is when you despise yourself and feel that you are not good enough, you deem yourself below the standard of what the society and everyone else defines as great or successful.

You are unable to recognise find your self-worth, you feel inferior and undeserving. And you are sad that the good things in life are just out of your reach since they are meant only for great people.

The tricky thing about this emotional pain is the huge dichotomy of sentiments, on one hand you feel really sad and depressed about your shortcomings and disadvantage, on the other hand you are angry and frustrated about how you are being judged or even born unfairly. These mixed sentiments can really tear us apart, making us feel despair and helpless about our life.

So what kind of pain events can inflict such a dis-empowering emotional wound on us?

One thing I had observed through my therapy experience is that sense of unworthiness can often stem from having authoritarian parents. If you have been constantly told from young that you are not good enough, and always being compared to someone better, it can really make you believe that it is true.

The more extreme example is an abusive childhood. When a child is being mistreated by their own parents, the most instinctive reason they can think of, is not how evil their parents are but their own unworthiness.

Another type of pain event that often triggers the emotional pain of unworthiness is when you experience a failure in your love relationship, marriage or even career where you felt being abandoned because you are not good enough.

When we carry this subconscious emotional wound within us, they can eventually turn into toxic behaviours that make us very negative.

Toxic Behaviour #1 - Non-Stop Self-Pity

When we feel unworthy, we just can't stop feeling sorry and pitiful on ourselves.

So we begin to tell the people around us, our sad stories. When someone compliments us, we put them down and insist that we are not good at all.

The reason why such dialogues can slowly become toxic or even annoying is when the intention becomes hypocritical.

It's like a reverse psychology, when you say you are not good, you wanted the kind person to tell you otherwise, and that sort of make you feel good. And you begin to beg for more of that kind of sympathetic response.

In other instances, we may crave for the person to agree with our sad story and sympathise us. In a way, it soothes the wound to hear someone agree that we are really a poor thing.

I had seen this toxic behaviour frequently in a love relationship. But when self-pity gets too much, it really drains the partner, leading to distancing.

Toxic Behaviour #2 - Non-Stop Self-Exertion

When we suffer from unworthiness, instead of wallowing in self-pity, some of us can take the other route to push ourselves so hard in order to prove ourselves.

This behaviour is more dangerous than self-pity, because sometimes we mistook this behaviour as a good virtue, not realising that it is actually also a form of toxic behaviour.

The key distinction between a healthy and a toxic self-assertion is love. When we are doing something that we are genuinely passionate about, we may work very hard with deep dedication to do our best.

But when we are forcing ourselves to work very hard because we believe that if we slack, we are bad. This becomes toxic.

And what happens next in subconsciousness is that, while we are driven by our emotional pain of unworthiness to work hard to prove ourselves, we also unintentionally demand the same level of efforts or perfection from others.

We can see this often in a workplace where someone gets very frustrated when they don’t see others working exactly the same as their speed, their way and their intensity. The self-inflicted pressure can also turn into pressure inflicted onto others. And that is another form of toxic behaviour where people can feel suffocated and out of breath around this person.

SO, if you suspect that there is always this sense of unworthiness hidden within you, do be careful of the two toxic behaviours that I mentioned above - self-pity and self-assertion!


The above is a partial transcript of my video.




When your old life isn't healed,

your new life wouldn't start.

No matter what pain you are going through right now,

let me help you get through it,

the right way.




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