Written by Amy Beecham
London-based therapist, coach and neuroscientist Bobbi Banks broke the five telltale behaviours down in a recent Instagram post.
Whether it’s dating, at work or within families, we’ve become pretty adept at identifying red flags from a mile off.
They don’t make time for you? Red flag. They constantly offload their issues onto you? Red flag. They rarely take responsibility for their own actions? Huge. Red. Flag.
All of these behaviours indicate a lack of self-awareness, boundaries and probably a bit of selfishness.
But, if we’re really honest with ourselves, don’t we sometimes act that way too? Haven’t we all gotten defensive when feeling under attack, or excused bad behaviour because we didn’t want to make a scene?
As neuroscientist Bobbi Banks explains in a recent Instagram post, we often talk about red flags in relationships and friendships, but rarely do we open a discussion around red flags in ourselves.
It’s understandably difficult to navigate. Much like recognising the narcissist within ourselves, or when we’re trauma dumping on the people around us, it can be a painful experience to confront our own shortcomings.
The truth is, we all have them, and highlighting them isn’t about scolding ourselves for being complex human beings. It’s about identifying the things we want to work on and taking positive action.
Banks goes on to identify five behaviours that could be considered red flags within ourselves.
Firstly, she suggests that making excuses for other people’s behaviour is an early red flag, as it creates an open environment for toxic actions to take place unchallenged.
Next, she identifies not speaking up due to fear of rejection or conflict as another self red-flag. This can often interplay with our people-pleasing tendencies, as we feel overly responsible for others’ feelings, and will go to any length to not cause pain – even if that means not standing up for ourselves.
Criticising and putting ourselves or others down is another trait Banks suggests could be a self red flag. This is often rooted in insecurity and is more of a reflection of our confidence and self-esteem than it is our nature.
Allowing people to cross our boundaries is another example of potentially toxic behaviour to be mindful of. Healthy boundaries are necessary components for self-care because without them, we can feel depleted, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or intruded upon.
Finally, Banks writes that basing our worth on people’s validation is another unhealthy habit we should watch out for. We come from a society that gains confidence in the approval of others, be that our family, partners or wider community, IRL and online. However, it can easily lead to jealousy, self-deprication and low self-esteem if left unchecked.
If any of these self red flags have resonated with you, don’t panic. Everybody has parts of themselves that they consider less than ideal, and how we respond to pressure is often influenced heavily by our upbringing.
As well as considering which red flags you may exhibit, Banks also notes the “green flags” that we can recognise in ourselves.
Positive behaviours like speaking up for ourselves, maintaining our boundaries, giving within our capacity and choosing what’s better over what’s comfortable are all just as important to look out for.
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