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Toxic Behaviors That Are Making You Unhappy (And You Don’t Even Notice)

Toxic Behaviors That Are Making You Unhappy  (And You Don’t Even Notice)

Toxic behaviors are those destructive things which we do, or allow, that rob us of being truly happy. We all deserve to be happy, but if you’re not truly happy, you’re unlikely to be healthy mentally, emotionally and even physically.

These behaviors are extremely harmful and can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, leading to an overall feeling of dissatisfaction with ourselves and with life. However, you can conquer these behaviors preventing you from living a fulfilling life.

There are a huge range of behaviors, too numerous to mention here. However, we’ve compiled a list of those often overlooked habits which often go unnoticed until it’s too late. So let’s have a look at some of those toxic behaviors and how you can get a handle on them, so you can get back to your bliss.

You people-please

Wanting to make others happy is a wonderful thing. It shows empathy and consideration. Like most things, however, too much of a good thing can very well be a bad thing, and where being a people-pleaser is concerned, it can lead you down a path of extreme unhappiness. Bending over backwards to make others happy when you’re clearly unhappy is soul destroying. How will you ever discover what truly makes you happy if you’re busy trying to make others happy? Don’t allow fear of rejection or of failure to hinder your life’s walk. You’ll only end up resenting yourself. Most importantly, people-pleasing carries with it a myriad of problems including stress, trust issues, feeling unworthy and undeserving, and finding yourself in abusive relationships. Don’t do it! Give yourself permission to be genuinely happy, and stop continuously putting others’ happiness above your own.

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You deserve to be happy, but people-pleasing won’t get you there!

Once you begin to understand this, you’ll soon discover what truly makes you happy. The kind of happy that is specifically shaped to you.

You compare yourself to those you don’t know

It’s no secret that most people compare themselves to people they know, but what about those who you’ve never even met? It may sound crazy: how can anyone possibly be jealous or compare themselves to someone they’ve never even bumped into? With Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook, Snapchat and an array of other social outlets, it’s virtually impossible to escape the constant influx of seemingly perfect lives. Without even knowing it, you’re consuming the image of happiness and perfection through the lens, and beyond a sphere seemingly out of reach to you. It is important to understand that happiness is available to everyone (read: everyone!), including you. Comparing yourself to others is a sure fire way to make you unhappy.

It is also important to note that so often, the images you see may portray an impossibly perfect image, or life, but the reality may be very different. Remember, those people in the images you come across are human, too, and have ups and downs like everyone else.

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So rather than feeling intimated and discouraged by what you see, be happy with who you are.

You keep yourself busy on purpose

In today’s society, busy equals productive. Unfortunately, this is most definitely not the case. The habit of keeping oneself busy can be as simple as not wanting to appear lazy, or as toxic as not wanting to face life (reality). Either one is negative, and will destroy your happiness over time when you realize your keep-busy attitude hasn’t made you productive at all, but stressed out, thoroughly unhappy and physically sick. Stop with the facade, and stop focusing on being busy for the sake of it, but rather focus on actually being productive, which means using your time effectively, prioritizing and resting when you need to.

You don’t speak up when something’s wrong

Bottling things up inside is probably one of the most toxic things you can do to yourself. Not only does this have a negative impact on your overall happiness, it has a negative impact on your relationships, work and can physically make you ill. No one is saying to vent every single gripe you have with the world or with others, but it’s important you speak up when you know you should. Refuse to be silent when things are making you unhappy. Calmly and assertively address those you feel are taking advantage of you, and confidently speak up when you feel disrespected.

You, like all of us, have a right to be happy, feel safe and be considered, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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You equate love with pain

I’m not sure where this all started, but somewhere along the line, the idea of everlasting love became synonymous with being tortured, drained and “hanging in there”. Love shouldn’t be an endurance program. Love shouldn’t be a pain tolerance test. The moment we equate love with pain, we invite any and everything into our lives, and chalk it down to real love. Unfortunately, what that also means is that we begin to put up with an awful lot of junk in the name of love. This is a slippery slope one should never go down. The beauty of love is that when it’s real, it allows you to grow together, support each other and wade the storms, together.

So approach love with the idea of progress and development; sustainability, rather than endurance. This will ensure you are being true to yourself, and your love, by not attributing the alternative with ideas of inability or weakness.

You don’t listen to yourself

We all have an inner voice. This inner voice is tailor-made to you and benefits you greatly. Listening to that voice – your intuition, your gut – and taking heed of its warnings and truths will not only help you filter out unhelpful external noise, but force you to face and recognize those things preventing you from being truly happy. It’s not easy to face those things you would prefer to just forget, but there’s huge benefits to actually listening. 1) It’s private. The tête-a-tête you have with yourself remains between you and you. No one needs know a single thing! 2) It will help you face your fears, head on. 3) It forces you to stop running, so you can begin walking towards your bliss.

Don’t ignore your inner voice. It has all the keys to your happiness.

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You don’t state what you really want out of life

Going along with the crowd will ensure you get lost in it! By actually thinking about what you want out of life, you give yourself the chance to be honest. Being honest with yourself, and with others about what you want will ensure you’re walking down your own path and not hijacking someone else’s. It means you won’t compare yourself to others as you know your path is leading you somewhere specific to you. It also prevents you projecting your ideas and ideals on others, allowing everyone the freedom to be themselves.

So, what do you really want out of life?

Try this: take a piece of paper, write your name at the top in big bold letters (encircle it, draw around it, make it stand out, make it yours), and state, underneath, what you want out of life (not what others want for you or expect of you, or what everyone else is doing). Try not to think in terms of big or small goals, as this will only mean you’re comparing your goals to those of others. This is your journey, remember. Carry this piece of paper around with you marking off, as you go along, those things you’re accomplishing for yourself. Bringing the focus back to you is guaranteed to get your happiness back on track.

You allow fear to imprison you

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of never being happy. Fear of being too happy. Yep, living in fear will make you pretty unhappy! Fear has a way of stopping you from enjoying almost everything, and allowing fear to consume you and dictate how you live is a prison sentence. Fear is toxic if it robs you of your happiness and forces you to live a life you have no desire or passion for. Make the decision to no longer allow fear to rule, or shackle you.

When approached right (and handled!), fear can be a saving grace, a signifier, and a window to an unrealized dream.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Jordan McQueen via magdeleine.co

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Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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