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10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

Isn’t life challenging enough as it is? You don’t have to make it any worse by doing things you should not do to yourself. Family and Relationships author Maria Robinson says “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Rather than continue making the wrong choices and focusing on the wrong things, you can give yourself a fresh start by avoiding those things that bring hurt and pain. Here are 10 things you should stop doing to yourself from today.

1. Stop criticizing yourself

Give yourself a break already! Everyone makes mistakes. There is nobody in this world who is perfect. Wallowing in the dark pit of regret and self-criticism does not solve anything; it only dampens your spirit and causes physical and emotional pain and hurt. Stop it now. You may wring your hands and loathe yourself for a little while, but don’t do it too long or you will create a problem that wasn’t even there to begin with. Let go once you have fully processed your mistake and replace the self-loathing and criticism with self-reassurance and determination. Tell yourself you will do better next time.

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2. Stop believing the negative opinions of others

People say nasty things to each other every day and it has been so for eons. Whether someone says something negative about you out of love or hate, it’s going to hurt to some degree. That said, don’t take things too personally and let negative opinions bring you down. Just because someone says you are “crazy,” “lazy” or “worthless” doesn’t mean it is true. Les Brown says, “Other people’s opinions of you do not have to become your reality” and he is right. Take negative opinions with a grain of salt. You are stronger and more capable than people think and you prove this when you rise up and keep going. Correct what needs correcting and ignore what needs ignoring.

3. Stop focusing on what you don’t have

You can never have everything you want in life and focusing too much on what you don’t have can be a terrible waste of time, energy and resources. Instead of coveting what you don’t have, focus on being grateful for what you do have. Rather than think about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that others are missing. Believe it or not, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone somewhere is having it worse. So, wake up each day thankful for your life and draw strength from a deep reservoir of gratitude for the things you do have that mean something in your life.

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4. Stop putting yourself last

It’s not fun being last all the time and you know it. Why put all your energy, time and resources into your job, friends, colleagues and even family until you have nothing left for yourself? Yes, sacrifice, duty, responsibility are all good and important, but if you keep putting yourself last and don’t take care of yourself, you’ll eventually have less and less to give until you have absolutely nothing left to offer. Continue putting yourself last and you will be drained, overwhelmed and susceptible to stress, depression and other health problems. Take care of yourself first. This is not selfishness; it is wisdom for living.

5. Stop spending time with the wrong people

Ever wondered why successful people leave their loser friends behind? It’s because, as Jim Rohn famously put it, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who bring you down, suck the happiness out of you or have no ambitions whatsoever in life. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you—not those who undermine your worth. Mark Twain notes: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

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6. Stop worrying too much

If your problems can be solved, there is no reason to worry? If your problems cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good. The only thing that worrying does really well is aggravate the situation and strip you of the joys of today. Take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let worry paralyze you. If you made it this far, there is no reason why you will not make it in the future. Life always has a way of working things out for the better in the end.

7. Stop trying to be someone you’re not

There is only one you in the entire world—dare I say the entire universe! Trying to be someone you are not or worse someone else you think is smarter or prettier than you is futile. You can only be you and others can only be who they were created to be. You may emulate some good qualities of people you admire, but only to complement (not replace) who you are as a person. Just enjoy being yourself and you will ultimately draw the right people who will love and appreciate you genuinely.

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8. Stop having unrealistic expectations

We all want to be happy in life and have every right to purse happiness, but we set ourselves up for sore disappointment when we have unrealistic or unreasonable expectations. For example: don’t expect to be the CEO of your company overnight. It won’t happen. Consider your talents, skills, qualifications and experiences and weigh these against your aspirations and vision for the future. Align everything with the circumstances of your life and set realistic goals and expectations.

 9. Stop trying to buy happiness

You can buy a sleek, new Lamborghini, build a mansion on the hill and fly to exotic lands at will and still not be happy. The things that bring true joy and happiness in life are often free. Laughter, love, talent, passion, compassion are totally free. Don’t try to buy happiness or worry too much about whether life is fair or not. Just get on with it and extract happiness from common things around you. Nathaniel Hawthorne says: “Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

 10. Stop giving up too soon

Life will throw many trials and challenges you way. That is what makes living so exciting. If you give up too soon, you miss out on the thrills and chills of living a full life. Keep pressing on and be alert and open to encouragement from unexpected places. Good things come to those who persevere. Besides, as Jane Addams rightly observes, nothing could be worse than given up too soon and leaving one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.

Can you think of any other thing people should stop doing today?

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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