1. Living in constant fear of things going wrong.
Nothing puts it better than Elbert Hubbard’s quote: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.” Mistakes are not inherently evil; sometimes they lead us to growth and make us stronger. Do not fear making mistakes so much to the point that you are paralyzed and do nothing. How can you achieve anything in life if you take no action and stay stuck in the same place? Trial and error are part of success, so ditch the habit of excessive worrying about things going wrong and start focusing instead on how you can make them go right. Besides, worrying is a huge waste of time–what’s bound to happen is bound to happen, so what purpose does worrying serve? None. All it does is rob us of time–time that we could utilize to better ourselves and achieve our goals and live life fuller.
2. Overthinking and analyzing the future.
Planning ahead for the future is always wise and definitely a sure sign of maturity. However, overdoing it is recipe for losing focus in life. Guess what? The present moment is the only life anyone of us is assured at any given moment. The past is gone, and the future is only a promise. We have only the present. So constantly worrying, thinking years ahead, day-in-day-out, letting the what-ifs and what-if-nots corrode your mind like acid only distracts you from living your present moment to the fullest. For all you know, the future that you are so worried about may or may not happen, so embrace the Now. Live in the Now. Don’t let your mind enslave you and make you its prisoner by living in a constant state of overthinking ahead. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and let life carry you wherever it wants.
3. Beating yourself up.
Guilt is a thief of joy. It drains you of life and leaves you no room for growth. If you know you did something wrong, fix it if you can. If it cannot be fixed, well―as ugly as it may sound, the bottom line is: It’s okay. You tried. It is all about the intentions. You did the best you could, and that is what matters. Move on. If there’s someone you once said a mean word to, and the memory of that is now nibbling at your conscience, by all means call that person up, apologize, and make amends. If they forgive you, great. If not, guess what? Life. Goes. On. Move on with it. You have to move on. Don’t make guilt become so much of a focal point in life that you keep dwelling in it. Life is certainly about embracing change, making amends, taking responsibility for our actions, etc., etc., but one thing it definitely is not about is miring ourselves in a whirlpool of guilt. So stop beating yourself up over things that cannot be helped or changed. What happened has happened and the past is past—it is gone, and nothing you can do will change that—so just let it go. Just as you are supposed to be kind and forgiving to people, you are also supposed to be kind and forgiving to yourself!
4. Being obsessed with perfection.
This goes hand-in-hand with #3. When you make a mistake, yes, it is wise to go over it, analyze what you did wrong, how and why you did so, embrace the consequences with a sense of responsibility and own up to it. Take it as a learning experience and try again. However, with all that having been said, you also need to realize that constantly criticizing yourself for a mistake serves no purpose other than to deprive you of happiness and keep you locked up in a mental prison. You need to understand that no one is perfect. No one! People learn from their mistakes and better themselves. Making mistakes is how we grow and gain experience, not to mention that it is how we earn deep respect from others when we acknowledge that we were wrong. Making mistakes is part of progress. No one ever got it right from the first try.
5. Constantly wanting to be right or having the last say.
We are cognitive beings, so it is natural for us to sometimes struggle with accepting that we are wrong. For some people, though, they just can’t accept being wrong; they must always be right! Well, that mindset is a prime recipe for ending relationships, especially romantic ones. Trying to being right all the time leaves us perpetually stressed, and that causes both us and our significant others emotional pain. In general, would you rather be right or would you rather be kind? The next time you feel the urge to argue about how right you are and how wrong someone else is, remember Thema Davis’s quote: “Have the maturity to know that sometimes silence is more powerful than having the last word.” It’s not always about proving who is right and who is wrong, or who gets to have the last say, so let go of that damn ego! Utilize that time to do something constructive instead. Hug your kid. Kiss your spouse. Pat your pet. Read a book. Go for a swim. Paint a picture. Sing. Have fun, damn it. Who cares about who’s right or wrong? Just be!
6. The urge to pin blame.
Sometimes we have to accept the fact that no one is responsible for our mistakes but us; not every single thing that goes wrong in our lives is someone’s fault. Sometimes they’re just the direct consequences of decisions we made—no more, no less. So pipe down a bit on the blame factor, chill, take responsibility for what happened, accept that no one is perfect, chuck it in the fuck-it bucket, and move on. Shit happens; we learn, we grow, life goes on. Trying to find a reason to blame something on all the time is an expenditure of negative energy that serves no purpose other than to keep you unhappy and running in circles. Some situations cannot be helped. They are what they are, and the sooner you accept that you’re only human, the better off you are.
7. Complaining and criticizing all the time.
Complain less, appreciate more. Before you jump on the complaint bandwagon if something is not up to your standards or making you happy, stop and think about other areas in which you are happy. Focus on those. You have to accept the fact that life is about meeting in the middle, about compromise, about balance―and that goes for our thinking processes, too. We must not allow ourselves to be overtaken by cherry-picking negative thoughts all the time. Always consider the pros, too, when you want to probe the cons. Do not underestimate the power of positive-thinking. For example, if you have a very well-paying job but have the crappiest boss ever, you might feel inclined to pick on that and justify why you are unhappy at work; however, if you stop for a second and consider the fact that there are people who have good and kind bosses but lousy salaries, you would then see how it sort of balances itself out: good boss, bad pay vs. good pay, bad boss. That is what life is about—balance and compromise. No one has it all. Once you train yourself to start looking at two sides of the coin, as opposed to just one, you’ll sometimes come to realize that you’re way better off than you initially thought.
8. The desire to be in charge of everything constantly.
Listen, it’s quite normal for you to want to be in control of where your life is heading. After all, it is your journey and you are the driver, and that’s just how it should be. However, it does not hurt to realize that sometimes there is nothing wrong with being in the passenger’s seat. For a little while. Take a break; give yourself a little rest. You do not have to be in charge of every single damn thing in life. If someone is willing to help you, let them. If someone wants to lead, follow—provided that it is not a major life-decision that would impact you enormously should it go wrong. Be willing to embrace help sometimes if you get it; don’t let your ego and pride get in the way. Letting go just a tiny bit of wanting to be in control always can take you a long way in life.
9. The need to impress.
Impress whom? This one always causes me to wonder why people do that. Why should I want to impress anyone when society itself is an illusion? As the idiom goes: “one man’s food is another man’s poison.” Opinions, philosophies, tastes, hobbies, etc., change from one neighborhood to another. Do you understand that? That means what someone may not like about you, someone else may very well love you for. The world will always be full of naysayers and people who have something to complain about. You cannot appease everyone. That fact alone should make you realize that you’re under no obligation to do whatever you’re not comfortable with, or be who you aren’t, just to impress people. Just be you, and the right ones will come to you. The only area with which you should concern yourself is doing your best to treat people right, hurt no one, and live with a sense of compassion and integrity.
10. Placing labels
You cannot expect seven billion people to see things in the same exact way that you do. We are all different. Upbringing, life events, and beliefs―to name just a few―all shape and mold us into who we are. Just because someone sees things differently does not mean you should label them. They are who they are, and you are who you are. In certain regards, no one is necessarily right or wrong. It is a matter of perspectives. You do not have to agree with everything people think and do to like and respect them. Labeling serves no purpose other than leave us all quarreling and in constant conflict with each other. Once you adopt the mentality of live and let live, your life will be much more peaceful and drama-free.
Written by Ali B. Moe, founder of Enchanting Minds.