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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?

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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 August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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