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You Can Be Mentally Stronger If You Do This Small Act Every Day

You Can Be Mentally Stronger If You Do This Small Act Every Day

As humans, we tend to set goals throughout our entire lives and dedicate most of our time trying to achieve them. That gives us purpose and motivation to strive forward. Yet, it can have detrimental consequences to our mental health, activating stress indicators that come as a byproduct of pushing ourselves too hard towards massive goals.

As psychologist Karl Weick suggests in his article “Small Wins,” we should make it an everyday practice to focus our attention towards the positive by counting each small win we make. By taking the Alcoholics Anonymous as an example, he suggests that the principle works due to the change in perspective. Instead of focusing on overwhelming and complex goals, participants are encouraged to choose small, achievable daily actions:

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The impossibility of lifetime abstinence is scaled down to the more workable task of not taking a drink for the next 24 hours, drastically reducing the size of a win necessary to maintain sobriety.

By celebrating these small, daily wins, participants feel more confident and motivated to achieve the same satisfactory feeling the next day, and so the behavior gains momentum leading to an almost effortless achievement of the ultimate goal.

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The Dangers of Dreaming Big

We are encouraged on a daily basis to “dream big” and set our bars high if we want to achieve great things. This phrase is an inescapable part of every motivational speech by almost every successful person who ever lived. There is nothing wrong in the saying itself, yet it tends to be misinterpreted by us, the regular mortals who are fascinated by fairy tale stories of dreams that come true to those who are brave enough to wish and focus on the ultimate goal.

For every great achievement ever made, there have been a million of small wins and breakthroughs that gradually led there, and this is something many people tend to overlook when working on achieving their goals. If we forget to appreciate the small wins we regularly make, the following negative consequences will appear:

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  • Our sense of self-worth can be worsened
  • We risk feeling bad about ourselves and feeling incompetent when we constantly compare present state to our final goals, which can only lessen our chances of making progress
  • We are prone to the feeling of failure and depression when our goals can’t be achieved
  • The increased amount of stress we have to cope with when we work on getting it all and now is counterproductive, as it blocks our productivity and weakens our physical health

Once we change the perspective from big to small and break our final goal into smaller, achievable chunks, we take the pressure off and avoid the risks to our health. By focusing on everyday progress, we automatically feel much more motivated, which causes our brain to get hooked on the positive rush and the feeling of accomplishment striving to achieve more. Understanding the importance of small wins and knowing how to apply it to your everyday life will cause tremendous benefits to your goal achieving and your overall health.

Here is the 4-step process you can take to develop the habit of celebrating small wins:

Step 1: Start small

First of all, you need to write down your final goal, and forget about it. It sounds silly, but this will help you focus on the fragments ahead of you, which is the only way to get things done. Instead of wasting energy on planning months ahead, focus on the next day’s challenges only. Be here and now and only think one step ahead in order to move forward. This will give you the constant sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to move forward and boost your self-esteem.

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Step 2: Reflect often

Every once in a while, take some time to reflect on your progress. So often we focus on goals yet to be accomplished and forget about the progress that has already taken place. This means comparing yourself — with yourself. For example, if your goal is to lose certain amount of weight, instead of beating yourself up for not getting there yet, you should compare some older photos of yourself to the new ones. By doing so, you will get the visual proof of your progress which serves as great inspiration for future advances and inspires positive emotions.

Step 3: Reward yourself

From early childhood, we get familiar with the achievement — reward formula which makes us consider it a norm in each such situation. Therefore, if you achieve certain success, no matter how big or small, your mind expects that you provide yourself with an adequate prize. If the reward doesn’t come, your motivational fuel gets drained, making your efforts futile. So, next time when you catch yourself single-mindedly chasing a complex goal without appreciating the small wins, give yourself a break and treat yourself to a movie, favorite sweet, or a short trip with your friends.

Step 4: Enjoy the process

Maybe the most important element to keep in mind in order to maintain mental strength in a competitive and goal-oriented world is to remind yourself to be content with yourself and the goals achieved. Remember to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. Enjoy experimenting and growing. By appreciating the process and the lessons learned, you will be able to avoid the stress and negative emotions, even if you don’t achieve the ultimate goal.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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