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Six Self-Destructive Habits and How to Stop Them

Everyone's guilty of at least a few of these.

You will live a much happier and fuller life if you learn to break free from these self-destructive habits.

1. Being overly critical of yourself.

Everyone has that inner voice that criticizes everything we do — what we say, how we look, what we do, what we eat, you name it. The problem is when you let that voice rule your life. Believe it or not, it’s not healthy to let it take over. Listening to it all the time will only make you feel sad and hopeless; it’s better to just acknowledge the thoughts and move on. Every time you find yourself thinking “that was such a stupid thing to say” or “I totally blew that interview,” consciously let the thoughts go. Hear them, acknowledge them, and imagine them floating out of your mind. Then gently direct your focus to a positive aspect, like how people laughed anyway or how the interviewer liked your handshake. Doing this rather than attempting to suppress the thoughts entirely is more effective because when you fight them, they just fight back harder. This way, you’re not fighting, but you’re also not letting them get to you.

2. Comparing yourself to others.

You are your own unique person, and no one else is going to be exactly like you — but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The world would be pretty boring if everyone was the same. People get to the same place in different ways, and you’re just going a different way. When you find yourself wishing you could do something just like someone else can, remind yourself that someone else has thought that same thing about you. You might envy her computer skills, but someone else is jealous of your ability to talk to people without getting nervous. No two characteristics of people can be compared this way, just as you can’t compare apples and oranges. So just because you don’t look like the pretty girl on the subway, it doesn’t mean you’re not pretty. It means you’re pretty in a different way. Flowers and sunsets are both gorgeous, but they look nothing alike. The same is true for you and subway girl.

3. Self-sabotaging.

A lot of people don’t even realize that they do this. It happens when you think “there’s no way I’ll get that promotion, it’s not worth it to apply” or “I don’t have a chance with him/her.” When you give up before you’ve even tried, you’re undermining yourself. You’re taking away opportunities. You’re shooting yourself down before anyone else has a chance to, and that’s a big mistake. You might only have a 10% chance of getting that promotion, but it’s still a chance. If you don’t even try, that chance drops to 0%. Whenever you have an opportunity to try for something you want, go for it. Take the extra ten minutes to fill out the application, start a conversation with the cute person. You might be surprised at what happens.

4. Not drinking enough water.

Okay, I know everyone says this, but it’s true. There’s a reason you hear it so much. Drinking lots of water helps with a ton of health aspects — it helps clear your skin, alleviates digestive problems, prevents headaches, makes you more alert, prevents nausea, and prevents things like dry or cracked skin. Get a reusable water bottle and try to carry it with you wherever you can, you’ll drink a lot more and you’ll eventually start to see some of these things happen.

5. Holding onto unnecessary anger.

When someone wrongs you, it’s natural to get upset with them. It’s even okay in some cases to stay upset with them for a long period of time. But sometimes, we keep anger inside of us that just doesn’t need to be there. Something people often forget is that you can let go of the anger towards someone, but still not forgive them; no longer being angry at someone is not the same as saying that you’re over what they did. You can have zero ill feelings towards them, and still not want anything to do with them. When we have all of that resentment inside of us, it just causes us more pain than we deserve. It’s not affecting that person, it’s just preventing us from moving on and healing. So for everyone that is no longer in your life because of something they did, try to release any feelings you have about them. Stand firm on not seeing them, but let go of the grudge.

6. Doing something you hate just because it’s what society expects of you.

This isn’t to say that you should totally disregard all societal norms and quit your job, start a cult, and move to Alaska. But if there’s something that you don’t need or want to do and you only do it because any other option is considered the lesser pick, don’t do it. For example, going to night school is typically frowned upon, and not a lot of people do it for that reason. But if that works better for you than traditional classes, do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that your decisions are invalid simply because the majority of people would pick the other option. Another big one I see is women who feel pressured to get married and have kids, but don’t want to at that time. They’re expected to, because that’s just the way society sees it, but they legitimately don’t want to. And for those people, settling down is the worst thing they could do. Then they’re trapped in a marriage they didn’t really want, and unable to leave because the child needs them. This is, ultimately, unfair to everyone involved. If that person is genuinely happiest when they’re by themselves and unrestrained by anyone else, then why shouldn’t they get to do that? If you find yourself in a similar situation, remind yourself that you know what’s best for you and go for whatever it is that you want.

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Sarava Watson
Sarava Watson

I'm just a college freshman who's doing her best to navigate through life. I've played the flute for almost eight years, I love reading and rock climbing, and my hair hasn't been a natural color in years.

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Six Self-Destructive Habits and How to Stop Them
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