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5 Toxic Traits Causing Burnout in Women

Written by: Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Have you seen any version of the meme circulating social media where an incredulous person suffering from a dash of denial asks, “Am I the drama?” The meme makes us laugh because of course, we all know the answer is, “Yes.” On the other hand, it can also be a bit uncomfortable when we are “that person,” and the joke hits too close to home.

outdoor photo of frustrated woman

What I find commendable about the person in the meme is how they are experiencing self-awareness about their toxic trait, perhaps for the first time. Now, awareness is only as good as the action to change that follows. When you find yourself in a moment of awareness, there are two paths you can take: one, choose to change and two, maintain the status quo.

How do you know if you are “the drama” demonstrating toxic traits? First, let’s dive a little deeper to understand the cause. Toxic behavior is often associated with negative experiences, emotional or physical harm caused to us by others. You may have unknowingly adopted behaviors or patterns early on as a self-preservation tactic to avoid pain caused by trauma. Over time, this behavior may have become so ingrained you may not realize it’s sabotaging your mental health and wellbeing.

When you are on the receiving end of someone else’s toxic trait, it’s so much easier to identify their behavior because of how it makes you feel. You may experience a range of emotions from hurt, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, or fear and have a strong desire to get as far away as possible. However, what happens when you are the target of YOUR toxic behavior? Awareness is key and the first step to adopting healthier habits to help you thrive.

As you read the toxic traits below, see if you can recognize any of the self-sabotaging habits you may be inadvertently inflicting upon yourself. Make a note of the suggestions on how to overcome them.

Here are 5 toxic traits that may be contributing to your burnout.

1. People Pleaser

People pleasers prioritize others and neglect their own needs. They often say, “yes” when they would rather say, “no,” and find themselves overextending themselves as a result. While you may believe it is selfish to put yourself first, and that you are merely being helpful, over time you may become resentful and may feel like everyone is taking advantage of you. To overcome this toxic trait, start by identifying people with whom you feel compelled to always oblige and the need to please them. Pay attention to any feelings of guilt that bubble up, that is a tell your relationship is unhealthy. Next, create barriers and boundaries to prioritize and protect your time. Schedule activities that are meaningful to you on your calendar and make these activities non-negotiable, so you do not cancel them or allow other people’s commitments to override them. Remember, “no” is a complete sentence.

Power Mantra: “My time is precious.”

2. The Do It All

It’s been said, to be successful women wear a lot of hats. For many it means wearing them all at once. While it can be a sense of pride to be a wonder woman and single-handedly manage family, career, and self, it is also the fastest route to burnout. From a societal perspective we have come to equate “have it all” with “do it all” and falling short of that is a weakness. If you can relate to the need to “do it all” ask yourself where this belief came from? During childhood did you see someone close to you modeling this behavior or communicating you cannot trust others to do things for you? If you can, try and pinpoint an inciting event where you were rewarded, validated, or recognized for being able to do everything on your own? To understand why you value this behavior, look for areas where you may be comparing yourself to others, times you feel guilty for not doing more, or have trust issues handing responsibility to others. Show yourself grace; there is no shame in needing or asking for help.

Power Mantra: “I could use some help.”

3. Suffering in Silence

On the surface, suffering in silence can look like a badge of strength. You either do not want to burden others with your struggles or want to give the impression you are strong and can handle whatever life throws your way. Your family and friends may admire how strong and resilient you are, and since you project an “everything is fine,” attitude no one offers you support. This coping tactic is often the result of family or cultural programming. If growing up you heard phrases like, “we do not tell others about what goes on in this house,” or “no one cares about how you feel,” you may have learned to adapt by stuffing your feelings inside and flashing a fake smile to mask your inner pain. You do not need to bear the burden of your problems alone. Since this behavior may lead to mental health issues if left unchecked, it may be helpful to seek out a professional therapist or life coach to help you reclaim your voice, control, and power.

Power Mantra: “I am comfortable speaking up and allowing others to support me.”

4. The Perfectionist

Perfectionism is an unhealthy set-up for unsustainable standards and expectations. As a result, perfectionists may find themselves suffering from anxiety, stress, and burnout due to the need to constantly perform as a high achiever. Pay attention to your inner dialog to become aware of how your self-imposed standards may be affecting your relationships, work-life balance, and mental health. Are you being self-critical or beating yourself up when you fall short of your self-imposed expectations? Consider shifting your behavior by allowing yourself to be good enough instead of striving for perfection. Show yourself self-compassion and appreciate your accomplishments without having to exceed an imaginary bar you’ve set for yourself. By allowing yourself to be perfectly imperfect, you may experience a newfound sense of freedom and a healthier mindset.

Power Mantra: “I embrace being good enough.”

5. I’m Not Worthy

This behavior shows up in women and can be due to generational family beliefs, misogynistic influences, and culture. Somewhere in your history, someone said or did something that made you question the value of your talent or skills, and you accepted that as your truth. A sign you suffer from this toxic trait may include settling in relationships, not asking for a raise or promotion despite your performance or undercharging your products and services. Your life may feel like a struggle, from dealing with low self-esteem to constantly feeling like you cannot get ahead financially.

The key to overcoming this behavior is to start by recognizing your inherent worthiness and value. It will take intentional self-work beginning with mindset shifts to help you build your self-esteem and confidence. Start by becoming mindful of your negative self-talk and prioritize personal development that cultivates a strong sense of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Celebrate your wins, even the smallest ones; and surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded women who can provide support and encouragement. You have the power to challenge your past narrative and rewrite the story, so it aligns with the version of who you want to be.

Power Mantra: “I am worthy.”

The good news about identifying toxic behavior is you have the power and ability to change should you decide to do so. This behavior is not part of your personality or how you are “hardwired,” it often is a sign you needed to cope with something or someone negative in your environment and adapted accordingly. While that adaptation may have happened subconsciously, you can reverse your internal programming by becoming self-aware and mindful of situations when you are displaying any toxic traits and the negative emotions that result. Use the suggested power mantras to help you shift your inner dialog and override your inner programming and create more mantras of your own. By becoming self-aware, you have the power of choosing how you want to show up for yourself and behaving in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling and a drama-free.

For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Senior Level Brainz Magazine Executive Contributor

Elle (Eleanor) Oliver-Edmonds is a writer, speaker, and certified virtual coach. She pivoted from her advertising/marketing career as a creative strategist crafting consumer-directed messaging for top household brands and applied her creative problem-solving expertise to coaching individuals.

She’s the founder and creator of the S.H.I.F.T. Factor, an online transformational space where Elle empowers women over 40 to reconnect with their dreams, overcome barriers, and strategize a path to success. The five-part inside-out process is based on the guiding principles, tools, and resources Elle successfully used to reimagine and redesign her own life after losing of job, marriage, home, and business.

She now lives a life where every day looks like a vacation. She relocated from hectic city life in Los Angeles to the Palm Desert area where she lives with her husband and is affectionately referred to as “Coach Elle in Coachella” by her clients. Elle is the proud mom of two entrepreneurs who inspire her to follow her passion of living with intention and creating a ripple effect.



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