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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 April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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