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  • Writer's pictureJanis E. McKinstry, MA

All Kinds of People Means All Kinds of Personalities, Watch Out for These Traits

One of the most interesting things about life is that we meet all kinds of people, each bringing their

own unique blend of traits, behaviors, and challenges into our relationships. Many people are kind, generous, thoughtful, and make great friends and partners. Some people however, may exhibit a pattern of behavior, or personality traits that leave us confused, disappointed, anxious, depressed, suffering with Post Traumatic Stress, Autoimmune Disease, Cancer, Violence, and worse. I'm here with you whole and healthy after years of abuse and I want to help you avoid it at all costs. This blog will address how to recognize red flags and cultivate healthy relationships.

Look Out for Unhealthy Personality Traits:

excessive focus on themselves

deep need for attention/admiration



controlling tendencies

lack of empathy for others


temper outbursts

intense mood swings

reckless behavior

verbal abuse




These traits create significant challenges in relationships, leading to feelings of being undervalued, misunderstood, emotionally drained, abuse, and eventually leading to illness, dis-ease, or worse.

Recognizing Unhealthy Traits in Relationships:

For us Highly Sensitive Empathic Folks, it's crucial to recognize the signs of unhealthy personality traits in relationships so we can avoid hurt feelings, abuse, and worse. We tend to see the best in people and ignore the rest, so we need to use our keen sense of observation to help ourselves stay out of unhealthy situations or skillfully detach from them if necessary. We can use our mindfulness and body awareness skills to recognize when something feels good and healthy, and when things feel off and unhealthy. Practicing breathing and body awareness in a mindful manner each day helps us to develop a keen sense of self, and self knowing that can direct our well-being.

Unhealthy personality traits show up in many ways and may include a consistent pattern of behavior, or clusters of behaviors, where one person shows little regard for the other's feelings and needs, demands constant attention and validation, belittles, uses sarcasm, shaming, blame, physical abuse, gossip, and often manipulates situations to their advantage (among other traits.) Such individuals may also tend to be deeply insecure and react negatively to criticism, often either reacting with anger, abuse, or playing the victim. My ex's trait was to be abusive in private and either the 'stoic perfect husband' or the 'victim' when witnessed by someone other than me. Everything looked perfect from the outside, but the inside was broken glass.

I'm an HSP, highly empathic, and I've often said that we HSPs/empaths tend to look straight into the soul and see the potential of the person in front of us while ignoring the personality. (I did. Note the did, not anymore.) That's where we get misguided because it's the personality that we'll live with when in relationship with them. If we ignore the personality traits we're creating a huge problem that can be avoided. And, that's why it's so important to observe behaviors, ponder the information, and use our discernment to make thoughtful decisions about what kinds of relationships we'll cultivate for our sense of self-worth and happiness.

Good Eggs vs. Bad Eggs:

Sometimes we confuse a person's character with their personality traits, so let's clarify: Character encompasses the deep moral values and ethical qualities of an individual, while a personality trait refers to consistent patterns in behavior, thought, and emotion that are evident across various situations. Here's some examples: Character: "Their character shines as trustworthy and reliable because they say what they mean, and mean what they say, and follow through with integrity." Personality trait: "They consistently have this bristle and contempt that shows up when confronted about their poor behavior and then they turn it around with some sort of lie to shift the blame back on me. I'm constantly walking on eggshells around them."

Understanding personality traits can help us navigate our relationships more effectively helping us to maintain our well-being and good health. We deserve honest and respectful relationships, so it is wise to reflect on what kind of traits we want in our friends for healthy and trustworthy bonds.

Some Healthy Personality Traits:





a sense of humor



effective communication

These traits contribute to a supportive, trusting, and enriching relationship that foster mutual respect and understanding.

Focus on Our Own Needs and Desires:

We empathic people often care deeply about the other's needs and the reasons why they behave the way that they do that we forget about our own needs and desires. Our empathy can override our intuition and common sense and we make excuses or ignore the offenses. I sure did in my over 25 years of marriage. I neglected my own needs to try and try to please my husband, which was a losing battle. It was sometimes like living with spoiled child in a huge man suit who would use his physical strength to intimidate and override me, other times a prison warden controlling my every move, and other times like living with a cardboard cutout who was emotionally absent, neglectful, and gone, other times an energy vampire sucking the very air out of the room with his arrogance and contempt. It was killing me, but I took my marriage vows seriously and stayed too long. I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and quickly forgave him for each abusive offense, each time trying to understand the impossible and make sense of it all. I had Traumatic Stress and developed over 7 autoimmune diseases in that relationship, and later cancer which I attribute to the abuse also. I paid a high price and I'm so grateful that I'm out of that living hell and I am here to help you avoid that torture.

So, what can I do?

As Highly Sensitive People, one of the most empowering steps we can take is practicing breathing and body awareness in a mindful manner each day. Even a few moments of slow and deep breathing helps to ground and center us so that we can tune in to our sense of self. This helps us to develop a keen sense of self understanding that can direct our well-being. Self awareness helps us to know what we need & desire for our own sense of happiness and satisfaction in life, and what we will not allow or tolerate in our lives. So, to establish self-respecting and self-loving boundaries we need to have this self awareness. Then we can create boundaries that communicate to the world what we value, how we want to be treated, and what we are willing to accept, and not accept, in relationships.

Here are the first steps to cultivate your own boundaries:

1. Know Your Worth: You give respect, love, and kindness and deserve it given to you too. Your worth is not contingent on the approval or validation of others.

2. Listen to Your Intuition: Your feelings are a powerful indicator of what's right and wrong for you. If something feels off in a relationship, it is because it is off. Are your boundaries being tested? Remember to breathe and "listen" to your body.

3. Communicate Clearly: You would want your loved one to feel they can share their honest feelings with you, and you deserve the very same consideration. Clear communication is to help your friend/loved one understand your boundaries so they can decide if they're willing to respect them, and accept what will happen if they don't.

4. Practice Saying No: Saying no is a fundamental aspect of setting boundaries. It's self respecting to decline requests or demands that make you uncomfortable or compromise your values.

5. Seek Support: Surround yourself with friends, family, or professionals who understand your worth and support your journey towards self-empowerment. A supportive network can provide the strength and perspective needed to maintain healthy boundaries.

Navigating Away from Abuse and Towards Self-Empowerment

If we find ourselves in a relationship where we feel consistently undervalued or mistreated, it's important to take steps to protect our mind, body, emotional, and spiritual health. This may involve distancing yourself from individuals who exhibit harmful behaviors, seeking professional counseling, and engaging in self-care practices that reinforce your sense of self-worth.

Self-empowerment comes from recognizing that we have the power to control how we respond to others' actions. It involves making choices that align with our well-being and happiness, even when those choices are difficult.

Cultivating a Happy Life

A happy life is built on a foundation of self-respect, self-love, and healthy relationships. By recognizing unhealthy traits in others, setting self-respecting boundaries, and taking steps towards self-empowerment, we can create a life filled with joy, fulfillment, and peace.

Remember, the journey towards a happy life is a personal one, and it's okay to seek help along the way. Whether through counseling, or conversations with wise & trusted friends, support is available. We each deserve a life where our mind, body, emotional, and spiritual well-being is a priority, and with courage and self-compassion, we can achieve it.

Embarking on the journey to cultivate healthy relationships can be transformative, and I'm here to guide you every step of the way. Click on any of the lavender boxes to go to my website and learn more about me, and send me a note. I'll get back to you as soon as possible and we can talk about how I can help. As a dedicated transpersonal & somatic psychology counselor, I offer a compassionate and supportive space where you can explore your relationship dynamics, understand your needs and boundaries, and develop the skills necessary for building meaningful connections. Whether you're navigating the complexities of romantic partnerships, seeking deeper friendships, or aiming to strengthen family ties, my personalized counseling services are designed to empower you with the insights and tools for fostering relationships that are rooted in respect, empathy, and mutual growth. Together, we'll work towards unlocking the patterns that hold you back, embracing vulnerability as a strength, and cultivating the fulfilling relationships you deserve.


Janis E. McKinstry, MA

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