2 Extremely Harmful Practices People Think Are Good
Toxic habits are easy to spot and change, but these practices aren’t.
“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” ― Madonna
I think everyone will agree with Madonna as we all are striving to be a better version of ourselves. For that, we adopt healthy habits, quit the bad ones, and ensure that we stick to our plan.
But is it enough to be better? To be happier? To live a fulfilled life?
Self-improvement is a multi-faceted coin. It has many aspects. I believe it to be an amalgamation of goals, strategies, hacks, inspiration, motivation, routine, sacrifices, tricks, and even more. However, self-improvement begins only when you have a complete awareness of yourself, your habits, traits, personality, weaknesses, strengths, and beliefs. It’s about knowing yourself inside-out.
When I decided to rediscover myself after multiple failures, I realized that many subtle practices were sucking my energy and self-worth. Unknowingly. As a result, I wasn’t able to see a change in myself. These habits are like weeds that sneakily grow in your backyard!
So, here are two of the most easily ignorable practices harming you more than your bad habits.
I. You (over)analyze the situation
Overthinking is a habit. Most of us have it. We just don’t realize it. Its source and existence are almost impossible to detect. For example, your loved one doesn’t reach home on time. So, you start panicking and become restless. You become so vulnerable that you start thinking all sorts of negative thoughts like an accident, kidnapping, road rage, hospital emergency, etc.
“Overthinking is not the byproduct of anxiety or depression; it’s the cause.”
But the cause of overthinking? No one knows. I say it’s mental conditioning according to the surroundings and life situations. The one encountering more problems in life is more likely to overthink.
However, we all have different problems in our lives that cause overthinking. It goes unnoticed because we often mask it with different names like “care or concern or worry.” And so, overthinking gives us the illusion of control. But it's the converse. Sheer helplessness. Due to this paradoxical nature, it’s tough to distinguish between overthinking and cognition.
Overthinking silently kills you. It makes you porous from the inside, preventing you from thinking in the right direction. Have you ever experienced that your uncontrolled thoughts are positive or constructive?
That’s also one way to detect them. When I couldn’t find a job for a long time, I realized the impact of overthinking my mental health. I used to ruminate over my failed interviews just to ruin my mental peace. But later I understood,
“Overthinking leads to overreacting. But, if you don’t question the existence of the problem, you don’t overthink.”
According to online statistics:
“73% of 25–35 year-olds overthink compared to 52% of 45–55 year-olds and just 20% of 65–75-year-olds. This is enough to declare overthinking as an epidemic in America.”
What you can do:
Every day I ask myself the following three questions, which you can do too:
What went well, what went bad throughout the day?
Why didn’t it go well; Was there anything I could have done right?
How can I make a better tomorrow by reducing overthinking?
The answer to the first question will open all the knots of your twisted mind. All the daily events and your behavior will appear before you on your mind screen like a movie. Crystal clear.
The answer to the second question will enable you to observe what thoughts and behavior lead to the downfall of your mental ease. Also, it will help you learn about your weaknesses and wrongdoings at the subtle-est level.
The third and final question will help you prepare yourself for any similar situations that might arise (most likely to) in the future. It will also reprogram your mind on how to think and behave in adverse circumstances. Finally, weighing down the ifs and buts scenario will help you gain control over your mind when a similar kind of disturbing event ever occurs.
This way, you’ll be able to reprogram your mind for a “better-thought response,” and slowly, with time, your overthinking problem will subside gradually. Remember overthinking never solves the problem as author Karen Salmansohn says,
“Worrying how things go wrong doesn’t help things go right.”
II. You use public opinions to evaluate your self-worth.
You’re at a social function. Very happy sipping champagne and enjoying the view of socializing after the pandemic. Then, someone walks up to you and comments about your attire. Instantly, your cheerful mood will evaporate like water sprinkled on a hot pan. A mental conversation will erupt like a volcano. Sometimes, you’ll gulp your revengeful words, while sometimes, you won’t.
But in most cases, you start doubting yourself. You start questioning your fashion sense. You degrade yourself by iterating mentally, “Am I looking too bad? I should not have bought this dress…I should have taken a second opinion while buying this dress, etc.” Also, if you’re too dependent on public opinions, you might never even wear that dress again.
We often fail to remember that it’s just an opinion. People often perceive things as they are. Their likes, preferences, and judgments are governed by their thinking and understanding levels. But, we fail to comprehend many things while accepting opinions like a person’s credibility, way of thinking, expertise, the feasibility of that opinion, etc. Instead, we take opinions as a final verdict to evaluate our worth.
Gradually, this approach makes you dependent on others for approval, and you start to lose a sense of your creative instincts. Also, you begin to live in constant fear of rejection. All these worthless mindsets never permit you to listen to your original voice. “What you want and what you feel slowly” dies, and you start living like a puppet.
What you can do:
First of all, stop seeking approval for small things. Wear whatever you like, do whatever you want without prospering the thought of “what others will think.” Second, perceive opinions as just “opinions.”Don’t feel the urge to react to them. For that, evaluate the opinion before accepting or rejecting it. Consider the pros and cons of that advice before investing your thought and energy into it.
Third, elevate your self-esteem by appreciating your smallest wins. For example, you win $5 in a lottery, pat yourself. You manage to grow a tomato plant at home; congratulate yourself. You earn $1 by writing on the internet; celebrate it. Acknowledging yourself for your smallest efforts will gradually stop you from seeking acceptance from others.
Oprah Winfrey has life-changing advice on dealing with failures:
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
We, humans, are always hungry for love, attention, and care. Since we don’t receive it from ourselves, we seek it from others. So, focus only on yourself; the rest will automatically fall in place.
A very famous Buddha quote comes to my mind:
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Whenever we talk about self-improvement, we’re always focused on physical habits. We never really talk or deal with mental practices. And that’s why we find self-improvement the most task in the world. It is! But at least a known enemy is better than an unknown one.
I am sure these insights mentioned above will prompt you to focus on mental habits in addition to physical ones.
That’s all from my side.
If you liked this article, please don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please reach out to me!
Also, stay happy, healthy, and safe!