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Personal development is a lifelong process of improving yourself, it’s a way for people to examine and analyze their qualities and skills. Personal development opens a door to understanding yourself better; your potential, shortcomings, and strengths.



You might be wondering how you undergo the process of personal development by putting yourself first. What does it mean to put yourself first? Well, putting yourself first simply means you have analyzed a particular situation and you have arrived at the conclusion that it is not worth your physical or mental strength and you are walking away from it.  



There aren’t special situations where you are required to put yourself first, just always remember it is healthy to take care of your mental health and cut off from toxic people regardless of the foundations of such relationships.  



I was told a real-life story by a friend about how she had to cut off her family, which seems rather harsh, doesn’t it? But it was necessary.  


I remember how she was constantly depressed and always dreaded going home, she never did communicate then but you could tell something was amiss. It turns out all this while she had no support from her family. 


She had dreams of her own to become an actor, but her dad wanted her to become a lawyer. She had studied law in college because of him and now she just wanted to forge her path but it was always met with words of discouragement from her dad and dirty looks of disappointment from her mum. 


It started to affect her mentally, her enthusiastic spirit was constantly rather low around them and this is where self-care comes in putting yourself first. This goes without saying before you cut anyone off from your life on the premises that they are toxic to you, make sure to have a conversation with them. Communication allows a new and healthy relationship to be brewed or gives a platform for said toxicity to be reaffirmed.


So did she have these conversations with the family? Yes, indeed she tried, she studied law out of love for her dad. Several efforts to gain their support and acceptance to forge her path, but sadly sometimes people have their minds made up against your ideas or whatever you choose to represent and it is truly unhealthy and toxic to be constantly surrounded by people who think that way of you and belittle your efforts, even if its family. This brings us to the question of how do you know a person is toxic? How do you identify a toxic situation?



Who Is A Toxic Person

Toxic person is the word used to describe a malicious and negative person. Toxic people are usually in denial about the hurt they inflict on others, adamant and unwilling to change. A toxic person brings you more down than up. 


 Signs Of A Toxic Person Include: 

A) Unwillingness to accept and take responsibility for their actions:

Ever wonder why you have to cut people off rather than them just maybe apologize and take responsibility by being a more decent person? It is because a toxic person is unwilling to take responsibility for his or her actions. Somehow they cannot fathom that you are not the problem. This is because this person functions and thrives on you taking all the blame and cleaning up their mess. 


B) Constant judgment: 

A toxic person will always find a way to make you feel bad or feel as though you do everything wrong. Imagine sharing some good news with family, friends, or even a romantic partner, but rather than being celebrated you are met with disapproving looks or condescending comments, maybe a half-mouthed congrats; this right here is a toxic situation caused by a toxic person because situations are products of our actions.


C) The feeling of entrapment: 

You know a person is toxic when you feel trapped as opposed to a relationship where you are truly comfortable and at your best. Sometimes we stay because of how long we have known this person or what we gain from them. 


An example of feeling entrapped is a situation where you have a friend who conveniently makes fun of you in public, and gives his other friends something to laugh about but hey it’s a harmless joke, and besides he often throws in money when you are in a fix. But harmless jokes don’t make you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed in public, you almost feel like it’s the price for the help he renders sometimes hence entrapped. 


You know a situation is toxic, where you feel insulted and belittled but for certain reasons you have to go through the process of convincing yourself that these are harmless statements directed at you, when you know deep down you do not want to deal with being the butt of the joke in public and they aren’t even funny jokes!


D) The narrow coat:

This is the person that seems to think he/she is always right. They are usually the narrowest-minded set of people, but they need to control everything and everyone around them. This person will go after your emotional and mental freedom, you can see the need for them to be in total control of your life, sadly a lot of parents fall under this category. It is toxic for another person to want to control your life, it’s yours for a reason.




Harms Of A Toxic Relationship

Every relationship that exists in our life has its impact, whether negative or positive. Being in a toxic relationship without a doubt has more negative influences than positive influences. Draining, unsupportive, and rigid people are one of life’s most outstanding challenges thus a toxic relationship with friends, a spouse, or family will harm both your mental and physical health. A few of the harms that can be done are:


a) Low self-esteem.

b) Depression/mental exhaustion.

c) Higher risk of developing a heart problem.

d) Development of Anxiety and fear.

e) Constant self-doubt.


These are harms that toxic relationships can cause; toxic relationships hold you back from true self-improvement. They drain you mentally and mental health has been proven to affect the body, so basically you are sacrificing both physical and mental health to keep these toxic and negative relationships. 


In the quest for true personal development and improving one’s self, we must be ready to take the extra steps. Crystal clear situations when a person wouldn’t want the same thing done to them but has no problem doing it to others, call for a reevaluation of said relationship. 


When you properly examine a relationship and  realize this is an obvious bad habit, then you wonder “Why does he still do it?” Doesn’t he see my embarrassed looks or you wonder about the time you said no more jokes about me and the joke went on, or maybe the time you asked to be listened to for once, but you were told to keep quiet and to instead listen. 


The answer is simple, you have been long involved with a toxic person in an actively toxic relationship and it’s time to quit.   


The extra steps we must take are removing ourselves from unhealthy relationships– do not make the mistake of justifying a toxic relationship because of certain benefits you enjoy. Ending a toxic relationship in itself is self-improvement, you are happier for it and you make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive people and that is personal development. 


There are other ways we can improve ourselves, to ensure we keep growing and not limit ourselves to the now. While eradicating toxic people from our lives is a major part of self-improvement, there are additional ways to ensure the process of personal development is continuous.  


 A) Acknowledge Your Flaws:

The first thought that comes to mind when I see the phrase acknowledge your flaws is the popular saying “Nobody is perfect”. You cannot grow as an individual if you are blind to your shortcomings and flaws. When you are aware of your flaws, you can then seek to better yourself. This takes us to the next point.


B) Actively Trying To Better Yourself:

Improving oneself isn’t as hard as it is made to look, it only requires commitment, discipline, and actions. In a situation where you have a short-term memory, it would be in your best interest to write the important things down or maybe you happen to lose focus a lot, you can set a to-do list every night so you wake up to a list of plans you already made. 


It is easy to cause changes in ourselves if we are determined to have a better life and be less dependent on other people. It sure would be lovely if you were known for always showing up late at work and one day you just start showing up early every day, you are suddenly a better employee looking at a promotion, yes just like that! Because you decided to cause a change in yourself.


C) Developing A Positive Mental Outlook:

To be positive means to be productive, optimistic, and confident. Having a positive mental outlook towards life is to look at life with a constructive and optimistic attitude. Looking at life with sanguinity, hope, and belief that everything will be okay, this is the character you want to implore yourself to make a part of you. When an individual decides to approach life with a negative mental approach, he or she has decided to look at life from a pessimist point of view killing off hope.


Hope is the feeling of possibilities or desire for a particular thing to happen, you hold on to hope when everything else fails, so imagine living a life devoid of hope. You simply take whatever is handed to you. When we take it upon ourselves to have a positive mental outlook on life, we help ourselves in more ways than one. A pessimist gives up and says it is out of their control but an optimist knows to find ways to keep moving forward, which is the attitude we want to build.


D) Learn New Skills:

Learning a new skill is a great way to improve yourself. Acquiring skills you weren’t taught in school opens a different world of opportunities. It doesn’t have to be some grand skill, it could be learning decision-making, problem-solving, time management, or even leadership. Skills that weren’t taught in schools but can be learned and mastered ushering in new opportunities.


E) Learn to say NO:

An important part of self-improvement is learning to say no when necessary without feeling bad. Often we say yes too fast and without thought, while what was needed in that situation was a simple, polite but firm NO. A scenario where you have had a long day after work and still have to pick up the kids from school when all you want to do is take a well-deserved long nap, but your phone is suddenly ringing and your brother calls asking if you can watch his kids because he has a date that he wants to go to. 



You know he has an alternative where he could drop the kids, instead of making the best decision, which is to say no and take that well-deserved nap so you could rest for tomorrow, you go with the acceptable answer and say yes. Many times a polite no would have saved us from avoidable inconveniences that sway us from the right path but because you are afraid of being selfish, you say Yes. Remember this when you say YES when you should have said no, you are still saying no to yourself and your needs. 



When we decide to improve our lives we make the amazing decision to cause positive changes in ourselves and those around us, which is truly a thing of beauty.

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