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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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