Three habits worth stopping
5th Jan 2011
by Marcus Loane
At the New Year it is common to try and improve in some way so in that spirit I have written this article. What follows are three habits of thought and behaviour which are detrimental to happiness and personal well-being. They are, caring too much what other people think, complaining, and controlling others. I could add another “c” of comparing to others but I have already written about that here.
1. Stop caring what other people think of you.
Many people spend a lot of time second guessing what other people may be thinking about them. They are concerned that others may not be thinking about them in a way they would prefer. They may even care what total strangers are thinking about them such as shop attendants or people who pass them in the street. They might be concerned that someone thinks they look scruffy or thinks they are being a bad parent or bad spouse. The possibilities are endless. However this is a waste of time and a waste of mental energy that could be better directed elsewhere.
The vast majority of the time it really does not matter what other people are thinking about you unless you happen to work in politics or are at a job interview. Even then you may fare better by just being honest and genuine (well maybe not in politics!) It is a very liberating realisation which I had a few years ago. I used to worry about the image I was projecting or how I came across or what people might be thinking about me. Now I do not care at all and it has made me far more relaxed in general and in company.
I think that people can sense this too. They can tell if you are caring about how you might appear to them and you come across as not genuine or sincere. The best way to enjoy a social function or any occasion where others are present is to be genuinely interested in others and be unconcerned about what they may think of you.
What matters in life is how you actually feel day to day, moment to moment, not what others may or may not be thinking about you, how they perceive you or the image you portray. What matters is how you think about yourself and that you value and respect yourself.
2. Stop complaining.
Complaining seems to be a national pastime in the UK and for some individuals it takes up the vast majority of their speaking and thinking time. If they are not complaining out loud they are having complaining thoughts about their life, the people in it, the government, the weather etc. This will often lead to depression or low moods. Thinking "Why me?" or "It's not fair" or "This is not how it's supposed to be" are completely pointless, self-defeating thoughts which will not help you. Complaining about anything is pointless and thinking complaining thoughts is pointless. All it does is focus your energy on the things that make you feel worse. Just resolve not to do it and if you find yourself complaining in speech or thought, nip it in the bud and change the subject. Instead of complaining, think what you could do to make things better or think about something else. Your well-being and your mood will benefit greatly with this one simple trick.
3. Stop trying to control others.
We all know someone who has controlling tendencies and you might be one yourself. It is an uncomfortable way to be if you feel that you have to be constantly correcting or controlling other people. Everyone does things in their own way so it is unlikely they will do things exactly the way you would. To let go of controlling tendencies is doing yourself a favour - it will no longer irritate you that others do things differently or think differently from you. It is part of an attitude of respect for others as individuals and acceptance of differences without judgement. They can make their own decisions and their own mistakes. This controlling tendency also manifests itself in the forcing of opinions onto others and an irritation when other people have an opinion different to you. You are making your mental life better if you can let go of this tendency. You will be much more relaxed and also easier to be around. This can be useful at work too where when you delegate responsibility you do not need to control every little detail and you allow employees to have a sense of ownership, make their own mistakes and learn from them.
Remember to stop:
Caring (what others think about you)
Complaining (words and thoughts)
Controlling and correcting
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