Some of the biggest challenges we experience come from within. It’s an unnerving prospect to discover that your worst enemy is right here, within your head, in the form of your beliefs. Now, I’m not saying that this is the definitive list, but the items we’ve come up with represent some of the biggest blocks to self-improvement.
Knowledge is power, and as behaviour doesn’t change without feedback I encourage you to work through the list honestly to which apply. Of course your own list can be as long as you like:
1. You Chase Perfection. Humans are unique creatures, born with lots of imperfections – so why do so many of us strive to perfection? As the phrase states ‘no-one is perfect’. So where has the idea come from that only the very best will do? The problem of course is that none of us can prevent mishaps and if you pin your self-esteem to the notion that only the best will do, you’re waiting to step into a hole. Embrace the fact that we all make mistakes. This is how we learn and adapt to new situations. So don’t get knotted up with some notion of what’s best. Anytime you find yourself chasing perfection, just remember that you are gradually separating yourself away from happiness.
2. You Make Too Many Comparisons. Can you recall the times when you were young and your parents compared your behaviour or your grades to the smart kid? It really didn’t help did it. You could never be that person because you’re you. As an adult it hasn’t changed. Sure, there are things we can learn from other people but this comes from casting a wide net. Comparing ourselves to others is a track to negativity. And, if you just consider yourself better than other people, you’re a narcissist!
3. Always Wanting to Please. If this is you then there’s still some growing up to do. As children we seek the attention and praise from adults. To some extent this moves into adulthood because we’d like the boss to notice our efforts. But there’s a big difference between jostling for some attention in a competitive environment and running your feet raw in order to please people. If this is you it’s time to reflect on what you’re doing and find ways of changing it.
4. You Lack Self-Control. When you neglect to work on building your self-control just because you don’t want to deprive yourself, you are undermining your success. Self-control is a quality valued by everyone, not just because it’s a sign of maturity but it puts people at ease and means they are more inclined to trust you.
5. Happiness is dependent on others. Don’t ever put your happiness in other people’s hands. Happiness doesn’t just happen, it has to be worked at and it has to be owned. If you vest your happiness in someone else you’re simply waiting for it to fail. You can certainly feel happier with a trusted friend or loved one, but don’t give or allow them responsibility for you. For one thing it isn’t fair on them.
6. Jealously is Corrosive. Being jealous makes you neglect all other positive parts of your life. You may have to dig deep to see jealousy for what it is but you’ll certainly know its effects when you feel them. Rising above jealousy isn’t always easy but the alternative is so damaging because nothing good ever comes from it.
7. Excuses. I know, we’ve all done it. That party that seemed such a good idea when you made the arrangements now feels like a burden. It would be so easy just to send a text in order to get out of it. It’s unrealistic to expect people never to make excuses, especially because the truth can be hurtful, but consider whether you are missing out on life because of your anxiety. Regularly avoiding life, going for promotion, taking chances, meeting new people, may be safe but only if you want to spend your life in hiding.
8. Mistrusting Others. It may feel safer to start from a position of mistrusting others until they earn your trust but it also reveals what a dim view you hold about others. The overwhelming proportion of the population start from the position of being prepared to trust others unless and until that trust is violated. Trust is a kind of social contract which more honest people sign up to. They tend to be more resilient and less resentful if they are deceived, but deceptions of the significant kind may be rarer than you think.
9. Fixed Mind Sets. These belong to people who believe you get what you’re born with and there’s very little if anything you can do about it. It can make people defensive and insecure whereas if they had adopted a more fluid set of beliefs they’s have a growth mindset. This is a more accurate set of beliefs which basically goes along the lines of, ‘what we’re born with is just the starting point.’ Nobody ever achieves anything with effort and dedication – and that includes happiness.
10. The Rat Race. The rate race depends on your definition. If achieving that dream is making you dread the daily grind it says you are on the wrong path. Let your curiosity take you to other places or other careers. You may find all sorts of reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t, but that’s your caution nibbling at your ankles. Experiment. Imagine you absolutely have to change things. How might you go about this? What risks do you need to take? Then weigh up the possibilities and decide.
Contributed by Shaley