One of the things that I promised myself I would do is to reflect on my 2018 and cut out the toxic habits that I was used to, before the new year.
I’m not gonna lie, 2018 was a truly challenging year for me. A stressful year. And when it’s stressful, it’s easy to fall back into toxic habits. Habits that don’t make me a better person in the long run.
Although habits are tricky to change (after all, you can’t hold them in your hands!), it’s absolutely worthwhile to do the difficult thing and try to change toxic habits. Why? Because those habits are the invisible scripts that run your life.
How you act on a regular basis and your responses to events in your life — all are connected to habits. Habits are THAT powerful.
Let’s look at MY top 3 toxic habits that I have to cut out.
Toxic Habit #1: Victim Mentality
Victim mentality: A mindset where the person seeks to feel wronged in order to avoid responsibility. A ‘poor-me’ attitude.
I used to feel like I was the victim. Bad things seemed to happen to me. I was always ‘bullied’.
It was always somebody else who did something wrong. If I was hurt, it was ‘them’, not me. I will sometimes take ownership of the problems that happen, but it was always reluctantly. And I would end up resenting ‘those people’.
But over the past 2018, I slowly started discovering these things:
1. I learned that acting like the victim is so unattractive and unlikable.
2. Being defensive and trying to absolve yourself from responsibility is only prolonging the problem.
3. It’s better to solve the problem even if it wasn’t strictly your fault (objectively).
4. Solving problems will make you a stronger, more creative and more dependable person. All good things.
5. You’ll feel better once you put the problem behind you. Dwelling on other people’s faults will only make your thinking more toxic.
Blaming others is EASY, taking responsibility is HARD. That’s why getting rid of this toxic habit is probably the most difficult thing I’ll have to do for 2019, and why I prioritize this the most.
Toxic Habit #2: Self-Deprecation
Self deprecation: The act of putting yourself down in public or in private. Or being excessively humble.
Self-deprecation is another toxic thing that I used to do when I got compliments or even randomly with friends.
For example, someone compliments how I look. Instead of just saying “thank you”, I add on negative things like “oh nooooo I gained so much weight”.
Or if I wanted to ask for help, I’d start with “I’m stupid at this, can you…”
These subtle ways of putting yourself down is toxic. Because you’re not treating yourself with the respect that you need.
I know, it can feel reeeeally uncomfortable when you’re being complimented. And being braggy is like a big no-no right
But self-deprecation is toxic because it not only reinforces any self-esteem issues you may have, it also makes other people accept the things you say at face value.
If you say you’re bad at something, people will BELIEVE it. Even if you’re actually good at it and you were just trying to be humble.
Over time, even YOU start believing it. And that sucks.
Here’s what I’m doing to slowly get rid of this toxic habit:
1) When you are being complimented, say thank you and just smile really widely. Or if you feel super embarrassed, compliment the other person in return! Say stuff like “You look really nice too!”.
2) When you’re asking for help or feel insecure about something, say things like “I’m not too familiar with…” or “I need help with….”. Don’t immediately condemn yourself to ‘stupid’!
When people say spread the positivity around, that means your own self is included too.
Toxic Habit #3: Comparison
Comparison: The act of comparing your own life/achievements/successes with other people’s and feeling inadequate as a result.
It’s normal to feel inadequate. Like you’re somehow not enough for… anything! But just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s not toxic.
When you compare yourself to other people, you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. You may be doing it to push yourself to be more successful, but it can usually have the opposite effect:
1. Comparison kills the motivation ‘to do’. When other people is so successful and their level is so high, how do you even compete?
2. Comparison prevents you from actually practicing, making (normal) mistakes that everybody makes and learning from from those mistakes. The desire to be perfect will be overwhelming.
3. Comparison discounts your own personal journey. Nobody goes from 0% to 100% immediately. Other people have their own journeys, but that’s usually not so obvious. What you only see is the 100% part and you want that without going through your own circumstances.
The biggest trigger for this toxic comparison habit of mine is Instagram.
As much as I love Instagram itself, I noticed that I rarely feel motivated once I’m done scrolling through the app.
Because I follow a lot of people who are in the same industry as I am, I constantly feel inadequate looking at all the things that they’ve achieved.
So rather than feel motivated from that, I just feel bad.
So to give myself a positive, productive headspace, I’ve started to limit my time on Instagram. This way — less comparing, more doing!
I’m a firm believer that when you tend to do something that’s not so ideal, like complaining a lot, that’s not who you are. That’s just a toxic habit that you need to get rid of.
When you see it as a toxic habit rather than a part of your personality, it’s easier to remove it from your daily life.
So let’s devote our 2019 to being the best version of ourselves that we could be!