10 things miserable people do before recognizing they’re toxic

This is the kind of post I needed a few years ago. I think it would have saved me from myself and my enmeshed family.

The goal is not to shame anyone, but to approach this topic with grace.

Wave on beach/shore, closer in focus is a sign reading "DANGEROUS CLIFFS. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK"

1. Feel entitled

Miserable people often feel entitled, because they are so lacking in living a life they enjoy. Some kind of need isn’t being met.

Unmet needs make people “selfish”. The longer someone’s needs aren’t met, the more selfish someone becomes.

Imagine you’re thirsty and desperate for water. There’s one bottle left on the shelf, but someone else grabs it. What do you do?

A miserable person who doesn’t know they’re miserable will probably seek to be polite and let the other person have it. This is an ongoing pattern in their life — sacrificing their needs for the sake of being perceived as “happy”.

Meanwhile, they resent the person who had the audacity to take that last water bottle. They may even start to feel entitled to being selfish and doing things for themselves, because they’ve gone so long without met needs.

When you live a life of unmet needs, you start to view the obstacles to meet those needs as if they are of limited supply. 2020 showed us all how people behave when there is a perceived limited supply of something.

The longer someone lives with unmet needs, the more selfish they become. This is the making of a narcissist.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theorizes how humans are motivated to meet their needs based on a specific hierarchy.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs. From bottom to top: Physiological needs (dark orange), safety needs (light pink), belongingness & love needs (coral), self-esteem (light orange), self-fulfilling needs (dark pink)

I grew up on the basis that all I needed was food, clothes, water and a roof over my head. Wanting anything more than that was deemed entitlement that I needed to unlearn.

However, people also need to feel safe and loved. They need to have a positive view of themselves — and they need to engage in activities that help them feel like life is worth living.

Unmet needs lead to mental and physical health struggles, including anxiety and a weakened immune system. They can even cause heart disease.

2. Worry about everything

With unmet needs comes anxiety. Our bodies don’t know how to cope when our needs aren’t being met well, so…we worry — about everything.

This can look like:

  • Avoid everything that makes them feel anything negative
  • Planning everything down to the minute
  • Stick to old, “safe” habits, concepts and ideologies

I hypothesize that people whose needs are unmet long enough aren’t in touch with their feelings, so anything that doesn’t boost the happy chemicals in their brain freaks them out.

Before I learned how to feel my feels, I didn’t know how to differentiate between sad and angry emotions. I simply perceived my feelings as either “good” or “bad”, which is so flawed because feelings don’t have morals. They simply are.

3. Avoid confrontation

Miserable people are awful at communication, but desperate to keep the peace, so they avoid confrontation like the plague.

The irony is, if it’s a parent or relative who’s older than you, there’s a double standard: They feel entitled to confronting you about things, but cannot cope when you confront them about things — and then wonder why you “can’t handle” it.

They may even go as far as accusing you of being childish, or projecting onto you by saying you need to “grow up and act like an adult”.

You never learned how to communicate to work through relationship struggles, because they never taught you — because they likely never learned from their caregivers, either.

That doesn’t make this behavior okay! Thankfully, learning healthy communication isn’t impossible.

4. Try to control other people.

Miserable, entitled people try to control other people — typically via emotional abuse. This looks like:

  • Complaining about how others live their lives
  • Criticizing everything everyone else does
  • Obsessing over what they believe makes someone else happy

This type of person may mold themselves to what they think other people want or like, thereby losing themselves in their relationships. There are no “Jack and Jill” as individual people, there is only “Jack and Jill” as a couple”.

The enmeshed relationship dynamic can also exist in families, including parent-child and grandmother-grandchild relationships.

Other people are viewed as extensions or accessories. Miserable and/or entitled people treat other people as property, rather than people.

When their property acts up, they’re critical and controlling because they want you to behave in accordance to their desires.

This is why unmet needs and selfishness created a perfect storm for narcissism: Other people become “property”, also known as the “narcissistic supply”, that is used to meet their needs.

Narcissists don’t even realize they’re doing this. I know the term “narcissist” is thrown about everywhere these days; I also know parents of Millennials and Gen Z love to call their kids “entitled” and “narcissists” — and that, most of the time, they’re projecting.

One common example of this is through neglect and money: Neglectful parents may use money to control their kids to teach them how to survive in “the real world”. The kids grow into adults who don’t know how to survive in “the real world” and focus heavily on surviving, while also needing their parents for financial help.

Obviously, the parents don’t like this and get upset, sometimes even leaving their adult kids to fend for themselves — because “that’s life”.

If I had to struggle, so should you. Why should you get to have it easier?

That’s not life — that’s entitlement. To want your children to suffer to survive in life instead of living and thriving simply because you did? That’s entitlement at its finest — the exact mindset that will lead to estrangement.

Ask yourself this question:

Why does someone living their life differently bother me?

5. Avoid personal development

When you feel so low that you hate other people’s happiness — and maybe even other people for being happy while you’re not — everything about improving yourself is irrelevant.

You get so wrapped up in your pride that you think you don’t need to improve yourself, that you are “perfect” and “above” people who need to work on themselves.

You avoid anything that may challenge your stubborn perspective,, because thinking differently than the way you’ve been conditioned to is uncomfortable (and you avoid your feels).

In other words, you think everyone else has issues EXCEPT you. Ergo, you perceive other people’s boundaries as hindrances, because you can’t use them.

They cannot become your property, because of their self-governance.

Toxic people don’t like boundaries. They can’t stand them. Nontoxic people need boundaries to prevent toxic people from crossing the line, though.

I, too, used to perceive boundaries as barriers to building relationships with people. I had no idea how to walk the line and deemed people who had boundaries as “snobbish”.

This was what I’d been raised to think, feel and believe — so I’d be more susceptible to abuse at the hands of the people who claimed to know and love me the most.

Now, I am still working to maintain boundaries myself. I’m still working on not trauma dumping. I feel embarrassed when my DID causes me to unconsciously do something I thought we’d all unlearned.

I think embarrassment is a sign of growth. If you don’t feel embarrassed by something unhealthy/toxic you did, have you truly grown as a  person?

If you haven’t learn how to cope with embarrassment, have you truly learned how to accept and feel your feels?

6. Don’t enrich their lives.

Hobbies help give people a “purpose” in their lives. I used to live a life devoid of art, because every creative thing I did was torn apart (sometimes literally) by people who couldn’t tolerate it.

Life sucks, so the idea of filling their lives with things that make it suck less is radical. Doing things that don’t make someone money or involve a lot of struggle are deemed worthless, because life has to be hard when you’re miserable

I really struggled with letting go of this belief that was drilled into me as a kid, in adulthood. I still struggle with it.

I feel as though I don’t deserve anything good that happens if I didn’t “struggle enough”, like I had to struggle in life before I deserved anything better.

That ideology really eats away at a person.

7. Argue about everything

Because they can’t take accountability for their own actions, and project, miserable people are combative. The drama is them, even if they don’t realize it or want it to be.

Everything is a problem, and everything must get under their control so they can worry less.

Miserable people believe they’re right and everyone else is wrong on the basis of knowing other people “better”…despite not knowing they themselves are miserable. This is another trait of controlling behaviors.

8. Gossip about everything + everyone

People who gossip about other people are miserable, point blank. There is a huge difference between talking about someone favorably and talking crap.

Most often, people who gossip don’t realize they’re gossiping and see nothing wrong with speaking ill of people who aren’t there to defend themselves. They feel entitled to do this, because

  • It’s a way to control other people’s perspectives about those people (control)
  • They believe they are right and that their perception/commentary on someone else’s life is flawless

Gossiping deflects the negative focus away from themselves and onto other people.

9. Feel uncomfortable doing nothing

The idea of doing nothing sounds great, but there is also guilt and this feeling that it’s wrong. Doing nothing feels so uncomfortable to so many people that there’s literally a book about it. 🤷‍♀️

10. Make a lot of impulsive purchases

An impulsive buying habit may be linked to a lack of satisfaction in life or other factors.

People who are at peace with themselves tend to buy fewer things; when they do buy something, it’s less impulsive and more premeditated.

Shopping improves mood for some people, hence the term “retail therapy”.

Are you in the growth and healing stage of having learned you used to be super toxic, or do you still think everyone else is? 😅🙃

Love this post?

Support me by subscribing to my blog and/or buying me a cuppa:

Leave a comment