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12 Toxic Thoughts You Need To Drop For A Better Life

12 Toxic Thoughts You Need To Drop For A Better Life

One of my mottoes is “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life!” I’m a big believer that our thoughts and emotions shape our experiences. The problem is that most people aren’t even aware of their negative thoughts. It’s almost like they have just become a habit, so it seems normal to them. Here are 12 common toxic thoughts that you need to drop in order to have a better life:

1. Thinking that you are a victim.

You’re not a victim. So stop blaming other people or your circumstances for your problems. Just because you don’t like where you are now doesn’t mean that you can’t take personal responsibility to change it for the better. So get rid of that victim-mentality because it doesn’t help anything. In fact, it acts as an obstacle to success. Realize that you, and only you, are responsible for your destiny.

2. Thinking that you can change other people.

You can’t. I had to learn this the hard way. There was a time in my life when I thought I could “motivate” and “inspire” people to be their best selves. It took me a while to realize that the only thing that can change other people is themselves. If they don’t want to change—or don’t know how—then all of your efforts will be wasted. So don’t worry about other people. If you don’t like them “as is,” then you have the choice to not hang out with them anymore. But you don’t have the right to change them.

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3. Thoughts that constantly resist “What Is.”

Some things you can change. In fact, a LOT of things you can change. You can lose weight. You can find a better job. You can go back to school. You can work on your marriage. But there are some things you can’t change. Those things are simply “what is.” You can’t change that your boss is a jerk. You can change jobs, but you can’t change your boss. You can’t change the fact that you have to pay rent or your mortgage. But you can stop resisting it. Resisting the unchangeable does nothing more than frustrate you and make you miserable. So change what you can, and accept what you can’t.

4. Thinking that “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side.”

“If only I was as pretty as that girl, then I’d be happy.”  Or “If only I was as rich as that guy, then I’d be happy.” Those kinds of thoughts aren’t true. Just because you think someone else has it better than you doesn’t mean they do. Maybe the pretty girl came from an abusive home and can’t get her life in order. And maybe the rich guy spends so much time at work that he never gets to see his family. The grass is not greener on the other side. So appreciate the grass you have. It’s your grass. So love it.

5. Having expectations of other people.

Expectations can be deadly to happiness, even if you think your expectation is reasonable, such as having your roommate or spouse do his/her share of the chores around the house. Just because you expect it doesn’t mean they will do it. Realize that your expectations come from your personal experiences and biases. They are not necessarily other people’s priority. You probably don’t like being expected to do things that you don’t want to do, so don’t impose your expectations on others. If you don’t like their behavior, either accept it, or move on.

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6. Thinking that having a significant other will complete you.

If you are not a whole person already, then having a romantic partner will not make you whole. Plus, it puts a lot of pressure on the other person to “make you happy.” You need to be happy with yourself with or without someone. Having a significant other doesn’t make you happier. Only you can make yourself happy.

7. Feeling that you always need to prove that you are right.

I always wonder why people will fight to the death to prove they are “right.” What’s the point? I think it’s because they don’t want to look weak. Or vulnerable. Or stupid. But I think admitting you are wrong is a much more noble and mature thing to do. Besides, everyone has a different opinion. So why not have yours and let them have theirs?

8. Worrying about what other people think.

Why do you care? Do you think they are judging you? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. No one is judging you as much as you are judging yourself. Other people are too busy judging themselves just like you that they probably don’t even give you a second thought! So do what makes you happy. And if others are judging you, then it’s their problem, not yours. Ignore them and be happy anyway.

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9. Thinking there is only ONE right and ONE wrong.

We live in a world where we like to think there is an objective reality. But guess what? Objective reality is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. Only subjective realities do. What one person thinks is the “truth” is not the truth for someone else. For example—who’s right? The Republicans or the Democrats? Well, it depends on who you ask, right? Everyone thinks something is right because it fits their life and the way they look at the world. And that’s it. Period. End of story.

10. Worrying about the future because you feel unprepared.

I love this saying: “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” And if you believe in the power of prayer, then you know that sending out thoughts and emotions into the Universe/God (whatever your belief system) works much of the time. So instead, be here in the NOW. Now is all you have. So be present and stop worrying about the future because you can only control it to a certain extent.

11. Thinking that money equals happiness.

We live in a capitalistic culture that values money and achievement. We think that people who have a lot of money are somehow better than those who don’t. But that’s simply not true. I’m sure there are plenty of happy monks in the world who probably don’t hold a dollar to their names. Or someone working at McDonald’s may be really happy while some billionaires aren’t. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be rich to be happy. It simply isn’t true. Money is nice, but it doesn’t make you happy. Only you can do that.

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12. Believing that the past determines your future.

Just because you came from a poor family, or made mistakes in the past does not mean that you can’t make your future better. If you have labeled yourself as a “failure” because of your past, then you will only continue your “failure” attitude into the future. And if you’ve heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon, then you know that what you think, you become. So like I said in the opening paragraph: “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life!”

I hope that this article has made you think long and hard about the toxic thoughts that probably go through your mind every day. And I bet you didn’t even know it! So start paying attention to what you think, and when you catch your negative thoughts, hit the “cancel” and “delete” buttons—FAST!

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

The 10 Stages of a Relationship That Every Couple Should Understand Can You Really Fix a Toxic Relationship (And How)? How to Become a Successful Motivational Speaker (Step-By-Step Guide) How to Handle a Cheating Spouse How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship and Start Afresh

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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