Why you Should Address Your "Toxic Pattern"
Updated: May 31, 2022
Each of us has a "toxic pattern" that harms ourselves, our family members, and our work.
You might resist depending on other people, stay in a job that makes you unhappy to avoid instability, or be so focused on maintaining a large group of friends that you neglect individual friendships. These are our "toxic patterns."
We often worry about our own toxic patterns, but rarely notice how they influence those around us. To find out your toxic pattern, you can use this pdf on my website listing the top 3 free online tests to increase your subconscious awareness.
One person's subconscious pattern may create toxic patterns in their children and siblings, or feed an environment that brings out unhealthy behaviors in co-workers and friends. Because children internalize their early environment and parents will inevitably have bad traits, this trapping influence that our relationships have on us and that we have on our relationships may seem inescapable.
But, we may be able to do something about our patterns in retrospect.
Identifying toxic patterns and their impacts on those around us
Toxic patterns look different for different types of people. Your pattern likely impacts other people in ways that you are blind to. These patterns were described in Awareness to Action, and I've added how they impact people around us.
This is an outline of the 9 different negative patterns and how they impact their environment based on the Enneagram personality test (you can find out which one you have using this link).
Enneagram 1s have a pattern of judgmentalness. They may make those around them feel insecure.
Enneagram 2s are demanding on relationships and make others feel manipulated into “appreciating” them.
Enneagram 3s can be inauthentic, causing others to distrust them as cooperative team members.
Enneagram 4s are self-absorbed in their emotions, leaving others feeling they can not rely on them.
Enneagram 5s can be intellectually arrogant, leaving others feeling unintelligent or judged for quick decision-making.
Enneagram 6s can complain, bringing negativity to relationships and making others feel judged for not settling into a “secure” crowd.
Enneagram 7s’ distractedness leaves others feeling unimportant or not cared for.
Enneagram 8s can be abusive in their drive for control, leaving others feeling stepped on or their emotions disregarded.
Enneagram 9s’ passive-aggressiveness can make others feel out of the loop or confused about their intentions.
Regardless of how hard you work to improve yourself (and many of us don’t even do this), you will always exhibit a pattern that you don’t want to be there. These patterns will impact your children or family’s behavior formation and instill confidence or instability in your work environment. So, we need to heal our relationships as a form of generosity to our families, and to improve the productivity of our workplaces.
Addressing toxic patterns: Why forgiveness is mutual self-awareness
Can you forgive without an apology? In my experience, this can be difficult because it can feel you are still suffering the wrongdoing. The most successful relationships are those where both members have an equal level of self-awareness - whether it is very high or very low. Forgiveness is the restoration of mutual self-awareness.
Consider a parent who didn’t show empathy for their child’s eating disorder many years ago. Even if the child forgives their parent, they may still be suffering both a lack of empathy and/or a fractured relationship with their parent if they don’t receive an apology. The damage is still tangible. So, an apology is the first step. But it can not erase damage alone.
Trust is the second step. Once the “damager” apologizes, the door is open for change. But the "damagee" needs to trust them to restore the relationship and heal the damage. The “damager” needs to have worked through and become aware of their pattern, and the “damagee” needs to feel their pain is seen, while also working to minimize their own toxic patterns that have influenced the situation. Mutual self-awareness is restored because each side's intentions are seen. The relationship is restored.
The same mutual self-awareness is essential in the workplace. When bosses lack self-awareness they may try to elevate their own status in ways that sabotage their teams. They may sideline a key employee or pursue an intense marketing campaign while neglecting finances. All of us will inevitably hurt the quality of our work in some ways, because we are imperfect. So, we need to retroactively put in the self-work to improve ourselves, seek forgiveness, and restore mutual self-awareness. This is essential to keep employees in an organization and improve performance.
Every act of self-work is a service to other people, and requires communication and seeking forgiveness in tandem with self-improvement. We should seek to give to people in this way, rather than just through gifts or appreciative words.
Pushing your team hard at work and buying your siblings Christmas gifts is not enough. We may need to consider our psychological influences on these places and people and how we can improve them to be a positive influence. This is often the last area of our lives that we think of, but it may be the most important for determining the quality of the rest.
To find out your toxic pattern, you can use this pdf on my website listing the top 3 free online tests to increase your subconscious awareness.