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13 Thoughts That Are Butchering Your Happiness

13 Thoughts That Are Butchering Your Happiness

Sometimes you might feel like you’re the only one who gets down on themselves. We all have those intrusive thoughts that are so negative they paralyze us. You aren’t alone. These kind of thoughts can make us feel powerless because they are slowly butchering our right to happiness. The good news is we gave those thoughts power ourselves. That means we can take back control and begin clearing our minds of the negative thought wasteland.

Here are some ways to fight 13 very common negative thoughts that hold us back :

1. “I’m not good enough.”

This is our inner-critic talking smack and bullying us. He’s always on duty, patrolling our minds. Around every corner, he’s there to tell us that we’ll never be good enough at anything we try to do. We’ve all been guilty of believing that we fall short on some sort of prerequisite to life. Our mind was designed to make judgments for survival purposes. The trick is to acknowledge when a negative judgment is taking place and redirect our thoughts. Instead of focusing on our weakness and shortcomings, we need to shift our perspective to trying to do our best. All humans start somewhere. No one will ever be perfect. It’s important to concentrate more on our strengths and forgive ourselves for ever believing we weren’t good enough – because we are just fine.

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2. “I wasn’t born with the talent to do that.”

You’re right… you weren’t. No one was born knowing how to do handstands, or draw comics, or launch a rocket into space. For most of us, it takes knowledge and skill. There are a few people who have certain activities that just come more naturally to them. However, most of us will have to spend a great deal of time and effort on skill mastery. While this thought might be correct, it’s still a limiting belief. If there is something we really want to do, we must work at it longer. We weren’t born knowing how to do anything—it all takes practice and patience.

3. “It’s too difficult.”

This is a very common thought that creeps up to protect us from stepping outside of our comfort zones. Anything that we are not used to doing is going to make us feel uneasy and frustrated. If we aren’t being challenged by something in life, we don’t grow. We don’t reach our goals. We get bored with life. Sometimes, we need difficult moments in life to overcome, so that we can appreciate the journey and become the hero of our story. Bragging rights are cool too.

4. “Its just not the right time.”

There is never going to be a so-called “right time”. The conditions will never be perfect for what we desire to do. This thought only delays our dreams and goals from happening. The right time to start is exactly when we feel the hesitation. We can begin by taking slow and steady steps to whatever it is we are trying to achieve. No one achieved anything at just the right time. Delaying what needs to be done is a detrimental luxury we have today that our ancestors didn’t have once upon a time. Think about that!

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5. “I’m too old now.”

If you’re over the age of 25, you’ve probably thought this before. How sad is that? We constantly see people much older than us working towards their dreams, but when it comes to us… we’re just too old. That’s nonsense! If you’re working towards something that brings you happiness, you’re never too old! When you’re doing something you love to do, you can do it until the day that you die. End of story!

6. “People don’t like me.”

This thought shows its ugly face when we personalize other people’s actions. We aren’t mind readers—we can’t possibly know for sure that someone’s body language really means they dislike us. People’s behavior has so much more to do with their own issues—not us. We can reclaim our power over this negative thought pattern of assumptions by getting comfortable with who we are and being true to ourselves. When we genuinely like who we are, we stop caring if someone truly doesn’t like us.

7. “I’m not smart enough.”

This false idea goes back to the “I’m not good enough” thought pattern. This is just another one of those false  judgments we have about ourselves. We are what we believe we are. If we firmly believe we aren’t smart, then we will live our lives doing only simple things to get by. Sometimes, we need to test ourselves and our abilities. We are all capable of great things—we just have to start believing it. We don’t have to be “smart enough” to start working towards our goal. The big secret is: we learn along the way. No one goes into a task operating at a genius level immediately.

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8. “I’m too busy.”

We ought to really be asking ourselves if we are really “too busy”, or if we really just don’t have the energy. Everyone is busy. Saying that we are too busy to do something often turns into a big excuse that we just accept as truth. Chances are good that we aren’t too busy. The truth is– we either don’t want to do something or we are low on energy. A way to overcome this excuse is to schedule a task that we think we don’t have time for (like exercise) into our daily routine. If it’s scheduled, there is time for it. We must learn to differentiate between being “too busy” and avoiding something we don’t want to do. It’s more socially acceptable to say, “I’m too busy”; than to say, “I don’t really want to come to your birthday party”. It’s just difficult to know where do we draw the line sometimes.

9. “It’s just my luck.”

When something goes wrong, we can catch ourselves thinking that we must deserve this. There must be some sort of dark cloud looming over our heads, casting down trivial accidents like stubbed toes, coffee spills, and parking tickets. As the day goes on, we continue to hold on to any problems we’ve gathered during the day and then add them onto new problems that crop up. It becomes a snowball effect of “just my luck”. Our whole day is ruined. We could have easily combated this by shrugging off the situation and saying, “Oh well”. Bad stuff happens sometimes. If we find ourselves ruminating on all of the negative things that happened during our day, it certainly steals our happiness. Reflecting on positive experiences instead will help us notice the good things in our day more than all of the crumby things. “Just my luck” can then go from being a negative thought process to a positive one.

10. “They’re better than I am.”

Says who? We tend to think this idea about ourselves when we compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths. Our self-worth ought not to come from comparing ourselves to our neighbor. Remember that our neighbor has flaws in areas that we are great at. This type of negative thinking will always bring us crumbling to the ground and steal away our treasured happiness. Everyone has different skills, talents, achievements, personalities, etc. The beauty of life is that we work with others to learn from them. We can turn jealousy and envy into curiosity and inspiration with a simple shift of perceptive.

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11. “I can’t do anything right.”

Failure and all-or-nothing thinking can make us feel like total losers. So we messed up on something in our lives?Big deal. It doesn’t mean that everything is ruined and we’ll never have a second shot. Falling down is a huge part of living. Everyone is going to have it happen to them—a lot. It’s staying down in the failure zone that is very detrimental to our self-esteem and is a cowardly decision. Getting back up and practicing resiliency will help mend our self-worth, regaining power back into our lives.

12. “I should be…”

If you know a little bit about psychoanalysis, you know that the superego is the “should” society places upon us. These are the rules and regulations of how society believes we must behave, and how we ought to live our lives. These demands are often very oppressive and sometimes irrational. When we are told that we “should” be a certain way, but we don’t want to be, we may feel overwhelming guilt over the conflict. We all deal with this constant battle between what our culture believes we should do and what we often want to do instead. Rigid, unbending demands are not at all fun for most people. When we find ourselves getting caught up in these “shoulds”, we should take a moment and decide if this is something we really want to do, or is this something we feel obligated to do in order to be accepted as a worthy individual?

13. “I’m all alone.”

It’s safe to say that we’ve all felt alone before (both physically and emotionally). This tends to happen when we’re going through a trial in our lives, or when we isolate from others. We might feel like no one knows what we are going through—that our feelings and tribulations are completely unique. However, we’d be wrong. Everyone has been through their fair share of tribulations. We can get over this negative belief by confiding in a compassionate friend who will support us when we feel like we are suffering and don’t know what to do. Sharing problems with a trusted ally gets us back to our happy place quicker than trying to do it all alone.

Featured photo credit: Sad woman at the beach in sepia colors. via shutterstock.com

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Naomi Teeter

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

More Resources About Work Communication

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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