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10 Things 20-Somethings Should Give Up Doing To Thrive In Life

10 Things 20-Somethings Should Give Up Doing To Thrive In Life

At 28, I look back on my 20’s in an interesting way. I’m not yet out of my 20’s, but I’m old enough now that I’ve started looking back on the past 8 years with a lot of clarity. I don’t take any of it back, as regretting the past is as useful as placing your hands on a hot stove, but if I was back in my early 20’s again and knew wiser, there are so many things I would do differently.

Making the most of life isn’t as difficult as it might sometimes seem. You can have an amazing life right now if you give up doing these nine things:

1. Settling for less than your worth

Whether it’s settling to be with someone you don’t truly love, deciding to just take that 50 hour a week job your friend offered you because you don’t think you’ll ever finish school, or turning your back on what you love, don’t settle for less than your worth.

Likelihood is, you’re worth far more than you give yourself credit for. By the time we’re young adults, we’ve been through so much in life that we can often think things like, “I’m not good enough” or, “I don’t deserve that”. But you are good enough, and you do deserve that.

One of the greatest fallacies in life is the idea that we’re incomplete. That we’re missing a screw, lacking something, or altogether messed up. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

You were born absolutely and completely whole, and you continue to be no matter what you go through. No matter how many mistakes you make and no matter who wronged you, you’re the same beautiful person you began life as.

Realize that you’re priceless, and stop settling for less than you’re worth.

2. Changing for others

I was guilty of this myself. We act like someone we’re not to get the girl or guy we like, we do something unlike ourselves to impress a group of people we want to be our friends, and overall we give up what makes us “us” just so that others will like us.

But all this ends up doing is making us lose track of ourselves in the needs of others. We forget who we are, and when we “come to,” we realize all that time was wasted wandering around in disillusion.

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Don’t change who you are for others. The people that are right for you will love you for you, not for who you’re trying to be.

3. Spending the day online

The internet is the future; it’s as simple as that. Everything you could ever want to know is on the internet, and a lot of the most popular forms of entertainment too. Oh, and you can make a living on the internet to boot. So it makes sense that we’d spend so much time online.

But to spend almost literally all day online is unhealthy, both with regards to your body and your mind. Maybe you’re a programmer, or run a blog, and spend a huge portion of each day online. That’s fine, you’re making a living, or are working on making a living through the internet.

But even then, you need to get out and experience nature, talk to people face to face, and just plain have fun with all those things that life has to offer that you can never find or experience online.

Learn how to balance your life between time online and time fully experiencing the beauty of life while disconnected and you’ll be far happier and healthier.

4. Thinking likes and followers = genuine friends

One of the biggest mistakes we make in our 20’s is convincing ourselves that Facebook friends, followers, +1’s, and the like are genuine friends. But genuine friendship is built upon the depth of the connection between two people. You can’t “go through things,” or experience life, with followers and Facebook friends. The most you can do is like the same post and occasionally say “What’s up!” or “Yeah, me too!”

Today, do a quick inventory. How many genuine friends do you have? If you’re having hard times, or something comes up unexpectedly, who do you have that you could turn to? If that answer is one or none, you probably need to get out and start building some genuine friendships.

Our relationships are the most telling factor in not only our ability to be happy but plays a big part in helping us thrive in all areas of life, so invest time in building friendships. It will serve you well for the rest of your life.

5. Sweeping problems under the rug

When we’re younger, we tend to push our problems aside or ignore them, often for endeavors that help us drown them out and forget about them altogether. But that won’t make them go away. They’re still there, waiting for their chance to strike.

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Adopt the habit of taking care of things, whether regular responsibilities, serious issues, or surprise occurrences, head-on and as soon as they come up. Remind yourself that whether you take care of it now or later, you still have to do it eventually, and that if you put it off it can escalate into a far worse problem than what it is now.

You’ll begin really living life the day you decide to face yourself. All your problems, whether big or small.

Decide today to lift the rug on all of your problems and shine a light, and you’ll discover how exhilarating and joy-filled life can be.

6. Caring what others think of you

The number one fear that holds us back is the fear of what others may think of us. At one point or another, we all suffer from it. It’s only natural to feel this way. I felt this intensely from the time I was a young teenager all the way up into my 20’s.

This is probably most intense from high school on into our 20’s. A time where we often want to impress or, at least, not feel the critical eye of numerous groups of people from the other sex, groups of friends (or potential friends), to potential employers, and family.

But guess what? In a very real sense, while you might think that all these people are constantly looking at you and being critical of you, most people are never, if every, thinking about you. Once you realize this, it’s nothing short of a life changing realization.

Don’t believe me? Use yourself as an example. Are you constantly thinking about those around you, nitpicking and being overly critical of everyone near you? Or are you too busy being concerned with your own problems and aspirations to sit around thinking critically of everyone around you? Likelihood is, you don’t. And almost no one else does either. And those that do? Well…

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

7. Thinking you only have a few options

I grew up thinking I had to go to college to make something of myself. And while this is a respectable path, thinking this was my only option is just another example of limited thinking.

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Don’t convince yourself that you have to take some specific path in life. This all comes down to not restricting yourself and thinking your only options are what you see everyone else doing, or what others expect you to do.

The world really is open to you and you have so many different options in front of you. Look around, use your creativity, and don’t take no for an answer.

Get out there and live your life, and don’t let anything hold you back.

8. Living absent-minded

Truth be told, this isn’t a problem only 20-somethings have, but it is a critical ingredient to thriving in life and something which, if tackled now, will show huge dividends both immediately in your life now and for decades to come.

The way we usually live our lives, we’re pushed and pulled here and there based on a combination of responsibilities, impulses, and only the occasional moment of clarity. We live quite literally only half-awake to the moment in front of us, more often worried about the future and regretting the past.

Do this simple exercise: say to yourself, “I am awake. I’m here, right now, fully alive to the beauty of this moment.” As you say this, focus your attention completely on the present moment experience. Get out of your head completely, stop purposely thinking (thoughts will still crop up without you doing anything, this is OK), and be fully alive to this moment.

Your entire life is waiting for you, realize how amazing your life can be by simply becoming fully awake to the moment in front of you.

9. Thinking you have all your life

Right now, it can seem like you have so much time that there’s little bother rushing to tackle anything of value. This is natural, and you shouldn’t rush around doing anything either way, but you need to live aware of the fact that life is a lot short than you think.

Before you know it, you’re going to turn around and be 30. And when this happens, you’re going to wonder where all the time you wasted went.

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Create a “bucket” list, make plans, and get out there and do all those things you’ve always wanted to do.

As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do. – Zachary Scott

10. Looking for “happily ever after”

Since we were little tykes, through T.V., movies, books, and stories of all kinds we’ve been fed the idea of “happily ever after.” That is, when you can gain the perfect conditions for happiness and an overall great life, such as your special someone, your ideal house, a nice job, and the like, then the rest of your life you’ll remain blissfully happy.

This idea is never more present than when we’re in our 20’s, setting out in the world for the first time, searching for ourselves and striving for our goals.

But “happily ever after” isn’t at all true. Nothing will magically make you happy for the rest of your life. But this isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean we can’t find happiness.

On the contrary, you don’t have to wait 3, 5, or 10 years to find happiness. The conditions for an amazing life all exist right now within you. You don’t need to find “the one”, you don’t need to make more money, and you don’t need to get rid of your problems.

You can be happy right now in this very moment by fully accepting yourself, embracing your struggles, and realizing that it’s through these very things that you can see the beauty in life.

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions to start really living. Realize you can be truly happy right now by embracing life fully with open arms.

Featured photo credit: woman peeking over a fresh draft beer as her drink toned with a vintage retro style instagram filter via shutterstock.com

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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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