Advertising

10 Toxic Habits We Have That Most Of Us Are Simply Unaware

10 Toxic Habits We Have That Most Of Us Are Simply Unaware
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2021 Updated) How to Be Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks to Make in Life 10 Negative Thoughts We All Have and What to Think Instead 22 Hardest But Most Important Things You Must Do To Achieve Success

Trending in Communication

1 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 2 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 3 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 4 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People 5 13 Simple Habits of Happiness To Change Your Outlook on Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
Advertising

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

Advertising

  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

Advertising

Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

Advertising

However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

Advertising

Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

Advertising

  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

Read Next