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Toxic Habits & your Mental Health

    Toxic Habits & your Mental Health

    10 ways you are self-sabotaging

    Bad or toxic habits, we all have them. These are not your typical vices we ignore or defend to the death “its my only bad thing!” or quirks that might not be all that great but not harmful either. But these are behaviours that might actually be sabotaging your life; and worst, you might not be aware of them.

    The good news is that you have the ability to learn and change your ways. Even if you are as old as the hills or stuck in your ways; if you want to change your toxic habits, you can.

    So what are these 10 toxic habits?

    1. Someday

    Someday, you will… Someday you’re going to… start exercising, eat healthy, stop smoking, write a book, clean the shed out, be happy. You can waste your whole life away thinking about someday; planning for someday. And you know what, someday, always seems to depend on something. When you have time, when you have money, when the kids have left for university, when you change jobs, when you move, and so on. Well sisters and misters, someday never comes. It’s always today.

    2. Procrastinating

    Putting off what we need or should be doing by doing some other very important but not necessary at this very moment task. Like playing games, or cleaning the bathroom for the umpteenth time, or doing the shopping, or reading one more chapter of a book. Yep, we’ve all been there. At the end of it, we spend a gazillion more minutes (that’s probably an over exaggeration but you get what I mean) wasting time rather than just bogging in and getting original said task done. Do you want to know the cherry on top – we waste another gazillion more minutes beating ourselves up over procrastinating.

    3. Comparison

    This really is the thief of joy. It’s an easy trap to fall into; to look at someone else’s life and to think that compared to your life their life is better, their clothes are nicer, their car faster, their muscles more defined or waist smaller, teeth whiter, income higher, house and boat bigger, travels are more exciting, children more well behaved, house cleaner, partner more helpful, and so on. Comparison is made even easier now with social media where everything seems so carefully edited, planned, posed, etc beyond the point of reality.

    4. Lying

    Who needs enemies when you continue to lie to yourself? Sometimes you might lie to yourself about how wonderful things are when deep down you are unhappy. Other times, you might lie to yourself about how crap things are when really things are actually ok. Sometimes, lying to yourself results in unnecessary spending. Face it, you’ve been suckered into the buy this and you will be happier marketing. Lying to yourself may also come from living in the past by telling yourself the best days are behind you or that you had a terrible childhood so no wonder your life sucks now. While lying to yourself on occasion about little things isn’t likely to do much damage (Christmas calories do not count), in the long run deep rooted, complex, or invalidating lies can lead to self-sabotage.

    5. Doubt

    Ah the burden of self-doubt; it is heavy. How many times have you thought you were not smart enough, not good enough, not rich enough, not pretty enough, not tall enough, not worthy enough, not skilled enough, etc. These limiting beliefs are learned in the past, and prevent us from engaging in opportunities. Negative thought patterns are often automatic, so you might not notice how they are operating in the background of your life sabotaging you.

    6. Blame

    Aka taking a victim mentality. This is when, rather than owing up to your own crap, taking responsibility, or changing the script, you blame something or someone else for your circumstances or actions. Maybe it is true that your parents neglected you, or that you are poor. It may also be true that you are overweight, stuck in a loveless relationship, were abused, constantly overlooked for a promotion, discriminated, yelled at, picked on, etc. Maybe some of the awful things in your life were not in your control; maybe some were in your control. Regardless, blaming others and remaining in the victim role is within your control. Change is also in your control. Taking responsibility means you are taking back your power and choosing to live life on your own terms.

    7. Perfectionism

    Setting impossible standards or waiting for the perfect time usually stems from fear of failure. Instead of doing your best and getting shit done, you waste hours of your time and so much energy in creating a version of yourself, your work, your home life etc that does not exist. Sure, most of you would want things to be just so, but perfect is unachievable and aiming for perfect robs you of having a go, learning as you will never even try, experiencing failure and success, and putting yourself out there to be judged better or worst.

    8. Not asking for help

    Most people struggle the most with this one. Not asking for help because you don’t want to be a burden, inconvenience anyone, owe anyone, have people think you are not strong enough and can’t stand on your own two feet, be seen as a charity case, or are stupid. Sometimes it’s great to be able to learn to fix things yourself, find your own way back by studying the map, problem solve an emotional issue, or generally try and help yourself rather than constantly being helpless and having expectations that people will save you. But sometimes, not asking for help can lead to costly mistakes, wasted time, missed opportunities, not learning, etc.

    9. Over Thinking

    Along the similar lines of procrastinating and perfectionism, over thinking can lead to self-sabotage. This is because you really are avoiding something because you are letting anxiety rule your life. Hands up, if you plan and plan and plan, make list and after list, or research to the point you forget what you are actually researching. While it’s good to be prepared and put time into gathering information, sometimes this limits you because you are spending time dwelling on something or ruminating about something and you are not doing. There comes a time when over thinking is paralysing you.

    10. Caring what others think

    You probably avoid life because you care about what someone else will think of you. You think people are judging you for being too something, or doing something wrong or different to them, or thinking something. While fitting into society and obeying rules, cultural obligations etc does offer protection, comfort, safety, and security there may be times that you care too much or put too much weight on others thoughts and opinions of you. You might avoid taking a lecturing position because you are afraid people will think you talk too fast, or avoid wearing red high heels to work because you think the others will think you are too much, or avoid saying no and sticking to your boundaries because people will think you are unhelpful or bitchy. If caring what others think leads to avoidance of things that sabotage your happiness and success then you have a problem.

    While confronting, if you recognise any of these toxic habits then you are now more aware of yourself and how you operate than you were before you started reading. The next step is considering if you want to change any of these toxic habits. If you do want to make changes, then please know that there are strategies you can implement. You can make changes on your own or with the help of a psychologist. 

    Know someone else with toxic habits? SHARE

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