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

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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.

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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