We all get into habits that are not good for us. And habits are hard to break. Some of those are so ingrained we may not even be aware we have them. But if we can identify them and find the strength within ourselves to let go of them, we can be happier. Here are six habits that are good to break for the sake of our own well-being:
- Harbinger of Doom. Listen to yourself. Is nothing ever good enough for you? Do friends and family disappoint you because they don’t meet your standards? Is it hard to find something good to say about anything? That kind of pervasive negativity will bring your mood down, and everyone else’s too. People will find it unpleasant to be with you. And no wonder. When you catch yourself complaining that your glass is half empty, stop. Your negative thoughts and words have a real effect on your happiness.
- Control Freak. Yes you want control over certain things in your life—your work performance, for example. But when you try to control other people and their behaviors, you are setting yourself up for failure. Because it’s really impossible to make other people think and do as you would have them. So let go of trying to control others and start trying to control your need for control.
- People Pleasing. There is something in your past that makes you need to please others. Some people lost a parent at an early age, for example, and need to please others lest they be abandoned. Some reasons are less drastic. Whatever your reason is, try to understand the source of your need to please others. And then try to let go of that need. Because you will be disappointed. You simply can’t please all the people all the time. And you’ll be happier if you start thinking about how to please yourself.
- Clinging to Bitterness. There is something delicious about wallowing in resentment and anger after you’ve been wronged. But when you marinate too long in bitterness you become an unhappy human being yourself. And then who suffers the most, you or the person who wronged you? Make an effort to stop thinking about the cause of your resentment. When it pops into your head, expel it. Do this over and over until it’s gone for good.
- Fretting Over the Past. Yes, you’ve made mistakes. But when you play that tape of the stupid, embarrassing, mean, dumb thing you did over and over, you’re going to be miserable. Try and learn from what you did and then stop playing the tape. Move on. Remember you are human and everyone does something they wish they hadn’t.
- Letting Fear Rule. You may not be fully conscious of fears that affect your behavior. Take a good, objective look at yourself. As we mentioned, fear of being abandoned can make you twist yourself into a pretzel trying to get people to like you. So they won’t leave you. Or fear of failure will make you timid. And you’ll end up missing opportunities that might have made you happy. Understanding what makes you afraid is your first step to letting go of your fear.
Only you are in charge of your happiness. You can make conscious choices to make yourself a happier person. Next week we’ll talk about good habits to adopt to boost your happiness.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.