Our mind, just like our muscles, works best when we take the time to exercise and strengthen it. But as mental workouts haven’t become trendy yet, many of us carry around horribly destructive mental habits that wreak havoc on our good vibes. Although we have good intentions to live well, choose our own paths and be happy, these common ways of thinking bring us down and fill our essence with stinky negatively.
This is the kind of list that you might read and think makes sense and that it applies to you or that it doesn’t, but that you probably won’t do anything about.
But that’s just it, if you don’t take the time to change your mind habits, or do some mental weightlifting, things will never change. You will never manage to carry around those good vibes with you throughout your days. The positive energy will be accidentally dropped along the way, even if you put it in your front pocket every morning.
So, instead of just superficially reading this article and then doing absolutely nothing with it, why don’t you use this list as a mental pirate map. Knowing where the treasure isn’t buried, helps to better understand the places you might want to dig up to find your hidden jewels of positive energy.
I’ve even taken the liberty of making a worksheet, which you can download here.
Hopefully, you use it to make yourself more aware of the unhealthy mind habits you most often allow yourself to indulge in. And if you don’t use the worksheet, at least take a mental photo of the list and see if you notice which of these mind habits appear most often in your days.
Ideally, you wanna become aware of these negative mental habits, and slowly learn how to eliminate them.
Without further ado, here’s the list of 11 unhealthy mind habits that are screwing with your happiness.
1 Comparing yourself to others
We all do this, judge the value of our successes based on what others around us are doing. This may sound like:
- … even my younger brother has bought a house.
- I’m such a freak, I’m the tallest/shortest/fattest/skinniest/darkest, etc. of all our friends.
- I’m the only one in the family who’s still single. I just can’t get my life together.
Who cares what everyone else is doing. That should have no impact on how you feel about yourself and where you are at in your life.
Sure, maybe you’re younger brother did buy a house, but maybe instead, he didn’t get to travel or study an extra degree.
We are all in different places of the race. And in fact, this race has no winner, so there’s really no sense in rushing or competing. The winner is the one who manages to be happy with what they have, regardless of what’s going on for every else.
2 Assuming that everything others say is about you
Let me give you an example of how this usually goes down.
Tina is speaking her truth about what she thinks of the state of our world, and that she thinks that people (in general) can do more to reduce their negative impact on the environment. The friend who is listening to her says “Well, we don’t all have as much time as you do to be separating our recycling every day and buying from the local veggie shop. Some of us have to work and take care of kids.”
This friend is clearly responding to Tina’s comment about the environment as though Tina was talking about her friend’s contribution to the issue, which isn’t the case. Tina was simply expressing a genuine concern she has about the environment and our need as humans to protect it. It isn’t personal, it’s a general concern.
We often do this when we feel attacked about what another is saying. And we usually assume that if we’re feeling attacked, it’s because the other person is attacking us.
But the reality is that when we get upset about what others say, it’s usually about a conflict that we are having with ourselves. If we just looked inside to see why we’re taking this comment so personally or reacting defensively, we might better understand what is really going on.
Maybe this friend feels as though they aren’t doing their part for the environment or that they’re having a hard time managing their schedule.
Being aware of our own shit, to make sure we don’t just plop it into others, is key to generating and keeping good vibes flowing around you.
3 Obsessing about the outcome
We’ve all heard the saying: “The beauty of life is in the journey, not the destination”. And as cheesy at it might be, it’s true.
Instead, many of us confront life as though what matters are the results of our actions.
How often have you heard people say:
- I’m scared to get into this relationship. What if it doesn’t work out?
- I’d love to start offering singing classes, but what if no one comes.
- I’d love to take on the challenge of better managing my mind habits, but what if I fail.
It’s as though all the beautiful, love-filled days you might have with your new partner don’t count or have no value if the relationship doesn’t last forever. But isn’t that ridiculous?
What if instead of focusing on the future success or failure of the business, relationship or mental workout routine, you focused on the beauty of each step of the journey.
Make sure you enjoy each day and drop the obsession with how it’ll all turn out.
No matter how much you obsess about how it’ll all work out, you don’t get to control all the aspects that determine that. So just drop it, and live your best life today.
Who knows what will happen tomorrow.
4 Allowing your inner critic to dominate your actions
You know that voice inside your head that tells you how much you suck and just how unlovable you are. Ya, we all have the pleasure of having to share our head space with inner critics of our own.
Although they are relentless and can take over your life if you let them, they aren’t actually in charge. You are. You just have to know how to quiet them down.
I wrote a whole article about these beasts and learning to quiet their chatter, check it out: Silencing your Inner Critic.
5 Living in the should
I really should go to the gym more often. I should get fit, eat right and work harder. If I did that, surely I’d live the life of my dreams.
Constantly allowing your mind to should you into shame is a waste of time and an easy way to bum yourself out. It’s unbeneficial and won’t help you achieve your goals.
If you’re actually looking to make changes, make a plan, create actionable steps and follow through. If that doesn’t work, then reassess the strategy and adjust the plan.
But sitting around telling yourself and others about how you should be doing this, and should be doing that is just causing negative weight to be placed on your shoulders.
Ditch this habit immediately.
6 Focusing on the negativity
Some days are good. Some days are bad. Some minutes fly by as we experience them in bliss and others drag on, weighing us down in their unpleasantness.
That’s just part of the deal of life.
You can focus on the good stuff, or you can focus on the bad stuff. It’s your choice.
Choose wisely, because spending your days obsessing over the bad stuff will create one hell of a dark cloud of existence around you.
7 Not listening
Actively listening to one another has become quite uncommon in our wacky world. We drift through conversations focusing on our contribution to them and our points of view. We want others to understand us, and for them to agree that our points of view are the most valid.
We close ourselves off to learning about others and opening up our minds to new and different ways of thinking. Which is a shame, because understanding where others come from and opening yourself up to understanding their reality are key factors for developing love and trust.
Only through actively listening to others, can we truly connect with them.
The love, trust, and support that you build in relationships become exponentially stronger when others trust that you truly hear the words they say.
8 Needing to be right
We fight to win. Conflicts are territories for dominance and being right. We seek to finish debates, conflicts and arguments as the champion.
But what do you really gain from “winning” an argument or being more right than anyone else?
Better self-esteem? Putting others down? Being smarter than others?
Either way, it’s not actually benefiting you. It’s causing distance and lack of trust between you and others.
Plus, if you’re doing it to feel better about yourself, that type of ego boost won’t last very long. Within no time, you’ll be feeling shit about yourself again, and needing to find someone else to put down to feel good once again.
Ideally, instead of needing to put others down to feel good about yourself, you just learn to connect within and find your greatness and value independently from others.
9 Not accepting people or things as they are
You can’t change other people. There are also tones of things in the world you can’t change either. Resisting that reality can be a trigger to anger, annoyance or reacting to situations like a complete jack ass.
Although you don’t have the power to change many external things in life, you do get to control how you behave and react to the world. So put your energy in the right place and work on making adjustments to the way you see the outside world.
This is probably one of the most toxic relationship norms we have out there. Falling in love with someone, but then deciding the things about them they must change for your relationship to work. For real love to last and blossom, both must be free and encouraged to be completely who they are. Forcing someone to be someone they aren’t is a sure way to eliminate any good vibes hanging around your love life.
10 Allowing your prejudices to guide the way
When my partner and I first went on a few dates, prejudices almost kept us from being together.
Within our first few dates, the only things he really knew about me were that I’m Canadian, I like salsa dancing, I was working as en editor and I had traveled quite a bit. That combined with whatever information he gathered about me, based on how I looked. With this smidgen of Jo data, he decided I wouldn’t be the kind of girl he’d be into.
I too left our first few encounters with my own bag of prejudices about him. Luckily, as friends, we were able to unravel those limited beliefs we had created about each other. Once we took the time to see beyond the prejudices, we realized how compatible we were. But we almost missed our shot at love, because of ridiculous ideas we created about each other, based on assumptions.
It’s easy to cast negative ideas onto people based on a generalization we make about them. Make the effort not to be so simple.
Just because you once met a jackass dog walker, doesn’t mean all dog walkers will be jerks. So don’t be a jerk and assume so.
11 Never making time to mind maintenance
Like as I said at the beginning of this article, the mind is like is muscles, you have to train it and exercise it for it to work at its best.
For me, the #1 mind-training exercise is meditation. Sitting in stillness with the thoughts and feelings that move through your being, is like spending quality time with a friend. You learn to better understand what moves you, what irks you and what makes you feel whole.
If you don’t save space for this type of activity, it’s likely that you confront the world and other people as though you’ve got this unknown sidekick that could get pissed off at any moment, and you have no way of controlling this sidekick’s outbursts.
Get to know your mind.
And if it’s not through meditation, find a way that works for you. Maybe through journaling, painting, running, golfing, going for a ride on your motorcycle or whatever else gives you quietness and space to discover the wild ways of your inner you.
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