I once heard that our good habits better outweigh our bad ones by far if we ever want success in anything in life. It sounds simple and almost obvious, but the truth is that most of us aren’t even aware of our bad habits. It certainly makes sense, our habits are automatic, we don’t think before we act.
Did you know that on average 40% of your daily actions are automatic? This serves us in many ways; imagine having to remind ourselves to breath, or re-learning how to drive a car every day? Other habits seem to cause chaos in our lives though, but that can definitely be turned around. Here are 10 of the top toxic habits we have that most of us are simply unaware of…
1. Letting the past dictate your present and your future
Just like an elephant, chained to a small stick, it is conditioned to believe it cannot escape, many of us also become prisoners of our past. How often do let your past influence what you do now? Having a bad past relationship and letting it influence your present and future ones is a choice you make, however unaware you are.
Just because your ex cheated on you, it doesn’t mean your next partner will for example. Create a new beginning, decide how you want to feel about something going forward, don’t let one memory taint you forever and be open to creating new ones for yourself.
2. Expecting the worst to happen
How often do you think about the things you don’t want to happen? Like how you don’t want to be late for traffic, or how you hope it won’t be another painfully stressful day at the office? It seems to be an all too common default way of thinking, but it clearly doesn’t do any good at all. What you focus on expands, so start to think about what you want to happen instead.
Let’s say that you have a presentation to give, you will might automatically think about all the things that can go wrong instead of thinking about how well you will do the presentation, a very unconscious habit.
Focus your thoughts on the good things that can happen, and make a conscious effort not to worry so much. You will feel so much better because both your body and mind will not only be less stressed, but actually happier too. Another benefit is that you will probably find things will start to turn out better as a consequence as well.
3. Talking about mutual friends when they aren’t around
If you are honest with yourself, you will admit to speaking about others when they aren’t around, however harmless. You know when you are crossing the line and when you do, you probably know you shouldn’t be. When you do this, you unknowingly give an impression on other people that you cannot be trusted and you are also reconfirming that subconsciously to yourself.
It is mainly just a harmless habit and most of the time it is not done with bad intentions, rather mindless gossip. I caught myself commenting on how miserable my one friend was the other day; as silly and unconscious as it was, it is a bad habit that could easily spur out of control. Be conscious when you are doing it, don’t keep on and reinforce the habit. Talk about others the way you want others to speak about you.
4. Not following through on what you say
Think about it, how do you feel about people who don’t follow through on things? Cancelling plans, saying they will do things, but they don’t; empty promises. Not following through on what you say is like ‘crying wolf’ because your word starts to mean nothing, to yourself and to others.
If you commit to meeting your friends for dinner for instance, don’t cancel and if you say you will send an email or call somebody, do it. Think twice before you say yes or commit to anything and stick to what you say if you do! If you can’t stick to the small promises, how will you stick to the big ones?
5. Self sabotage
The most challenging of all the toxic habits is when we stand in our own way and we don’t get out. It is really perplexing and hard to identify why we resist the things which we want. At the same time, chewing on bubble gum doesn’t have an outcome; and neither does worrying, yet it has a strangely comforting feeling. This feeling gives us a false sense of resolving the issue. This doesn’t help at all, it only makes us feel more frustrated, yet we still do it.
If you have been wanting to lose weight for years for example, and you find yourself talking about it more than doing anything about it, get the support you need and stop self sabotaging yourself.
If you are lacking the impetus to change what you don’t like or go after something you do, find the motivation that will almost pull you forward and connect this to your values. Also separate your old self from the part of you who wants to change. You will always come up against resistance when trying to change a habit, so give yourself permission to break free from the cycle of sabotage you find yourself in.
6. Comparing yourself to others
This is by far one of the most meaningless habits we have. The only person we should compare ourselves to is ourselves. Your circumstances, experiences and skills are different to everyone else – you can’t compare apples with bananas just because they are both fruit. Remind yourself that it is not fair to compare, we are all just too different.
Let’s look at a typical example of success; don’t compare somebody else’s success to your own success, but rather compare how successful you are now with how much more you could be. Focus on your strengths and what you are good at. Don’t compare yourself to anyone and focus on you, what you are good at, challenge yourself to achieve what you desire, and let that be the only comparison you make.
7. Obsessed with wanting to change somebody else
I have to put this on the list because you see it too many times and you might even be doing this yourself unknowingly. Wanting to change other people to be more how you want them to be is a fruitless expedition because people will only be who they want to be, not who we want. We can give advice, be a shoulder to cry on, but we cannot dictate how another should act or live. The only person that we have power over changing is ourselves, and that is it.
You see, hear and read about it all the time, especially with couples trying to get the other partner to stop drinking, taking drugs or partying for example, and unfortunately the story always ends the same.
We can be concerned if someone has bad habits, but being consumed with making someone change is just not realistic or fair and probably won’t ever happen. If you have been subconsciously wanting someone to change, let it go, you will realize one day that that person wasn’t meant to be for you or they weren’t ready to change.
8. I will be happier when or if……
We are surrounded by media and press continuously brainwashing us with the idea that life would be better if we have more of this and less of that. This leaves us chasing illusions that don’t exist and we are left feeling disillusioned with our own life. I will be happier when I have more money, when I lose weight, a better career or when I find the perfect partner. We don’t realize we think this way until we listen to the words we chose and what we say.
There is good and bad in where you are right now in your life, just like there will be when you have more of whatever it is you desire. Seeing only one side (the illusion) is the bad habit. Chasing illusions keeps us feeling discontent with life right now.
The most typical of this way of thinking is to think you will be happier when you have more money for example. The truth is that you will probably be less stressed, but not happier. Happiness comes from the present, from living in the now and being grateful for what you have, not focused on what you don’t (which is ironically, what keeps could you unhappy). Let go of this illusion, live more in the present and stop thinking about the when’s/if’s – they will always be an illusion in the future.
9. Negative thought patterns you need to drop now
We have 60 000 thoughts on average bombarding our mind all day long. most people are unaware just how negative they actually are because it is a habit to think this way. Maybe when you grew up, you adopted this habit from your family or someone around you. Like most people, thinking negatively seems to be more common than thinking positively. Thinking negatively blocks creativity, inspiration, and possibilities.
It makes you enlarge the bad and minimize the good and therefore, feel really bad. Become more aware of your way of thinking and challenge the negative thoughts. A few examples could be if you tend to think more about the things that you can’t do, you put yourself down more than you compliment yourself or you dismiss your own ideas as impossible. Any thought that doesn’t support you in life, is most probably negative.
Sometimes you can’t prevent negative thoughts popping into your head, but you do have the choice to believe them or think differently instead. What do you choose?
10. Being a hypocrite
Do you practice what you preach? It is really annoying to hear people give advice they clearly don’t take themselves. Even worse, saying you are a certain way when you clearly aren’t! Some people tend to have a habit of always telling others how they should live or what to do, but they never turn that finger around and point it back at themselves. It can be frustrating and irritating to watch someone so unaware of how hypocritical they are being.
Don’t give advice unless you take it yourself, and don’t tell others how to live. Don’t tell other people to be healthier and not drink coffee if you do unhealthy things like each crisps, for example. What works for you might not necessarily work for others. We have probably all been a hypocrite in some way or other, I’m sure those around you would agree. But you have a choice now and in changing who you are being. We all have habits that we wish we didn’t, that we don’t like and many of those we don’t even know we have as well.
Take a few minutes to be honest with yourself about the toxic habits that you might have and put a plan together to change them. We certainly develop habits we are not aware of, but once we are, it is up to us to change them or ignore them. You can’t change who you are, but you can change who you are being. Each and every one of us has that option. To your success
Featured photo credit: man walking alone by the sea in winter via shutterstock.com