4 Negative Behaviors That Can Ruin Your Happiness
Humans tend to have very complex range of emotions and habits in which we use to navigate our world. Some of these habits serve as very apt coping mechanisms – however, many are not beneficial, and only serve to perpetuate a poor mental and emotional state.
To become happier and more mentally healthy, there are a number of negative behaviors that need to be minimized or eliminated from your life. As you read through, I’m sure you will recognize all of these mental behaviors, and not a single of one of them will ever serve to make you a happier, most satisfied person.
Common Negative Behaviors
True forgiveness is the equivalent of saying “it’s okay” and forgetting it altogether. For serious indiscretions, forgiveness can take a lot more emotional work than that. It’s about acceptance, freedom from resentment, and allowing yourself to move on from hurt.
Self-forgiveness isn’t that much different than forgiving someone else. Non-forgiveness of another’s wrong-doing may involve revenge, a requirement of retribution, or dwelling upon on issue that seeps over into your life and relationship(s).
Non-forgiveness of yourself, similarly, is an internal form of revenge upon your own mental wellness, as you continue to torture yourself with blame, depression, and regret. Ruminating on the issue serves as a constant reminder that you owe the victim something, perhaps something you can never repay.
But forgiveness is the act of truly letting go of all bad feelings, including anger, blame, and hatred toward or oneself or another. Forgiveness is thus associated with a decrease in depression, stress, anger, and improved physical health – regardless of whether that forgiveness is directed toward another or oneself.
It’s okay to feel bad about something you’ve done, or something that has been done to you or another person you love. But holding onto those feelings is counterproductive to your happiness, and won’t change the event, the outcome, or invoke anything positive for the future.
Thinking in Black & White Or Overgeneralizing
Some people just naturally see people and things as “they are, or they aren’t” in a black vs. white fashion, versus others, who view the world in shades of gray.
However, this black-and-white approach to reality is often counterproductive to happiness, but can also be one of the most difficult negative behaviors to change.
Basically, you are setting yourself up to view yourself and others in terms of extremes.
Here are some examples:
“I am an alcoholic. Therefore, I will always be an alcoholic.”
“He cheated on me, therefore, he will always cheat on me.”
“She hurt me, therefore, she does not love me.”
This type of extreme thinking contributes to a rigid worldview. It can amplify negativity, and can contribute to an unfair, incorrect, and distorted version of reality. By focusing on what’s wrong or negative, you are setting yourself up to see the worst in people and life in general.
Conversely, try to view people and situations as nuanced and complicated. Most often, there are several sides to every story, and people’s emotions and responses are not just a pattern of good-bad, or right-wrong. Moreover, they are complex reactions to themselves and others, and often open to much interpretation.
You are not just an alcoholic. Your husband is not just a cheater. Hurting someone does not equal non-love. Telling yourself these things are true will only perpetuate a negative attitude about life.
Holding Others To A Higher Standard Than Yourself
Constant disappointment from others could mean that are being mistreated, or it could mean that the people you are surrounding yourself with are truly below your personal standards.
Or, it could mean that your standards are simply too rigid, and you expect others to be more perfect than yourself.
Yes, there is often a air of hypocrisy surrounding this way of thinking. Sometimes people are highly critical of others who have the same faults as themselves.
Moreover, this is probably a reflection mechanism that is really directed at the things they dislike about their own personal tendencies. Consider if this may be true in your case.
People who view others in this way often do not see the flaws within themselves, or how others deal with them. They often criticize others and push them out of their lives for reasons that aren’t terribly important. One example may be giving someone the silent treatment because they forgot to do the dishes – not a truly serious gripe.
If you are recovering drug addict, or someone has legitimately done something careless that hurts you, sometimes you have to shut others out. That’s just a fact of life.
But being overly critical of people for relatively small mistakes implies that you are perfect. I assure you, you are not.
When you apply intolerance to others and the pressure to be something they are not, you will ultimately push people away, and never be content or happy with anyone. Instead, try empathy and forgiveness in place of such negative behaviors.
Think hard about the flaws you believe you find in others, and ask yourself “Do I have these same flaws (or similar flaws?)” In what ways could others view you, yourself, as imperfect?
Forgetting To Be Grateful And Thankful
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the negative things in life, and forget about the good things – the things we’ve been given, and the things we have.
Focusing on the good will foster happiness, whereas focusing on just the bad will create only misery.
We assume sometimes that we are entitled to certain things – a comfortable home, water, food, and companionship. But many people don’t have even the very basics needed in life in order to thrive. When you feel down on yourself because you don’t have more, stop and look around you and take note of what you have.
Making a list may sound cheesy, but it’s a much better way to approach your current situation that to dwell on everything you deem is wrong or absent from your life. Don’t wait until you lose the wonderful things in your life before you realize how important they really were.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels., M.A., Psychology