Do you often feel overwhelmed? Do you avoid challenges because they seem daunting? Have you ever thought yourself to be lacking? If the answer to one of these questions is “yes,” chances are that you indulge in toxic habits.
Toxic habits originate from our thinking, we believe something that is why we do it a particular way. We indulge in them because we have, over the years, trained our brain into thinking that way.
For instance, you’re given two tasks, and you have to choose one. One task is difficult and requires extra effort, while the other task is easy, something that you’re used to. Which one would you choose?
The easy one, of course. We tend to avoid things that require effort and skills that we are not experts in. What we don’t realize is that this is damaging for us. We choose to live in comfort, rather, than take challenges that help us grow.
This does not mean that we can’t rewire our brain to work for our benefit. In fact, science has shown that the brain is not “fixed” as was previously believed. We can rewire our brain, figuratively and literally, to change our habits for the better.
What is that toxic habits do to you?
Not only are toxic habits a deterrent to personal growth, but these habits also make us miserable. Toxic habits are generated by negative thoughts. Negative thinking involves overthinking and criticizing oneself to the point where it becomes difficult for you to function.
Rewiring your brain refers to changing how you think. In the field of neuroscience, the term neuroplasticity refers to the mind capability to physically alter the structure of the brain. Our thoughts can change our brain, something which was not believed to be possible.
According to Dr. Schwartz, restructuring your brain can be done in 4 steps, re label, reattribute, refocus, and revalue. Dr. Schwartz has treated patients with OCD using this technique.
The first step, “re label,” involves identifying a recurring thought as a “brain glitch.” In the second step, you need to recognize why the thought keeps repeating. If you know why this happens, you can then answer what you can do about it. In the third step, “refocus,” replace that old habit with a new one.
It is perhaps the hardest step because you need to put conscious effort to change your behavior. In the fourth step, all the hard work pays off as you devalue old habits and begin to adopt new ones.
5 Toxic Habits that you should avoid:
Habits are the mind’s subconscious way of operating. We obtain habits over time, with everyday practice. The same goes for toxic habits. Quitting a toxic habit cannot happen in a day. It requires consistent effort for a time before you can begin to notice any effects.
1. Comparing yourself to others.
When you compare yourself to others, you negate your own achievements, qualities, and challenges. When we see someone with a better job, a better house, a better lifestyle, a better partner, or a better car, we are inclined to compare ourselves with them.
Obsessively comparing ourselves with others is not a healthy habit. It can cause us to feel worthless. Such feelings can make us feel like we are never enough, and that whatever we do will never be enough for ourselves, our friends, and our family. Often when we compare, we are motivated by a feeling of jealousy and envy. We want the things we don’t have, and we’ll do anything to achieve it.
Looking up to someone and learning for them is different. When we look up to someone, we try to assimilate the good qualities they have. Whereas, when we compare ourselves to others, we want what they have. Over time, we begin to overlook our own accomplishments and challenges that we face in life. We consider our achievements as nothing compared to what others have achieved in life.
Being in competition with others doesn’t help us in achieving our goals. Instead of knowing what we want, we look to others for inspiration. This causes us to become dependent on others. We lose ourselves along the way because we are fighting for what others have. We forget that what someone else has is not necessarily good for us.
To avoid comparing yourself with others all the time, list down your achievements and challenges that you have faced. If you come across someone, who has achieved more than you, look for how they have done so. Remember that in this world, no two people are the same, nor have they lived the same life.
2. Blaming others and circumstances.
When things go wrong, our reaction is to find the person to blame. It is easier to blame others than to accept our mistake. Accepting our mistakes requires introspection, which can be challenging because it requires us to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. No one like to admit that they have bad qualities. This habit makes you miserable if you believe yourself to be spotless.
We need to admit that we make mistakes. It is an inherent part of our personality. Someone quick to blame others does not accept responsibility for their actions and cannot identify their mistakes. Then there comes a point when we believe that everything that goes wrong is because of someone else. We lose control over our lives since we are constantly looking at others for when things go wrong.
You couldn’t achieve a particular milestone because well, the timing wasn’t right. You couldn’t pass the test, because the teacher didn’t teach you properly. Someone who puts the blame on others seems to get past everything in life and yet achieve nothing in life.
Finding mistakes in ourselves requires admitting that we were wrong, and that requires courage. One way to let go of this habit is to take responsibility for your actions. You should be aware of your shortcomings, and instead of playing the blame game, try looking at how the situation could have been avoided or improved.
3. Having low self esteem.
Do you live in the constant fear of messing up? Do you feel like what you do is never enough? Do you always feel like you lack? If it is so, you need to may have low self esteem.
This is by far the worst toxic habit because it leads us into believing that we are not good enough. It is a deterrent to growth because it makes us overlook our potential. Bogged down by our own thoughts, low self esteem makes it difficult for us to respond to challenges.
Low self esteem is caused by many factors, including a lack of self confidence, comparing ourselves to others, fear of failure, having negative thoughts, or troubling past experiences. You can work on these things to improve yourself, without a doubt. Our thoughts define us. Negative thoughts can make us feel sad and miserable, while positive thoughts make us feel motivated and energized.
The guilt from making a mistake can cause a person to believe that they are worthless. Moreover, a person with low self esteem may try to please everyone. You can improve your self esteem by working on a few things. Meditation can help you become self aware. We should know that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t be good at everything. People make mistakes, and that is part of life. Putting yourself down for the tiniest infarction is not healthy for the mind and body. It can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
4. Staying comfortable.
We spend most part of our lives in auto mode. The activities of daily life drain our energy. So naturally, we choose comfort. What we don’t understand is that comfort is the enemy of growth. To grow, you have to go through pain. This involves learning skills that are foreign to us, experiencing new things, etc. Without getting out of our comfort zone, we will never find the opportunity to grow. To find what interests, we should look for challenges.
We fear failure, this is why don’t try in the first place. However, to become someone, we need to accept failure as part of growth. When a child learns to walk, she falls many times before standing on two feet.
Most of our time is wasted scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram. Even when we know it does not provide us any benefit, we do it anyway. We need to be mindful of the time we spend. By monitoring our daily activity, we can choose to better our lives. Knowing where we spend our time needlessly can help us make better choices.
Your job may pay the bills. What’s the point if your job doesn’t fulfill you? It is easy to become comfortable and keep on doing the same thing, day after day. To grow, you need to take a leap. Anything out of the comfort zone seems daunting because we’re used to the routine. It is difficult to realize when we get comfortable. Try new things and be open to new experiences.
5. Staying with your mind in the past.
Our past experiences shape the person we are, but it absolutely does not affect our future.
Staying in the past affects our relationships, work life, and health. We brood on what could have been and what should have been instead of working for our future. Being in the past makes us blind to the opportunities we have today. We think about all the way things could have been, instead of what we should be doing. We waste our energies by brooding over past memories.
The reason why you remain in the past maybe because of the lingering pain of a divorce, breakup, loss of a loved one, or a loss of a job. By all means, take your time to heal. But know when it is time to move on. It takes effort for one to move past a tragedy, but life goes on. What we do today, in the present, affects our future. A positive outlook on life motivates us to get up in the morning and do something.
Our past should serve as a reminder for ways to improve ourselves. It should help us learn from our mistakes and give us a reason to move on. Put your energies in your present. Think of all the things you should be grateful for, even if it something like good health. This makes you appreciate the things you have.
One Last Thing:
Most of our toxic habits are rooted in human nature. The mind compels us to believe things that are not necessarily true. The mind is a tricky thing, our thoughts guide it into believing things that are not true. Staying objective is, thus, never easy. However, practicing mindfulness and being self aware can help develop a healthy mind that is capable of positive thoughts and leads us to the best version of ourselves.