I was recently inspired to put together a list of tendencies that I have observed in both myself and those around me which, in my opinion, can make life a lot more complicated and difficult to go through than it needs to be. Read through the list, see how many apply to you, and feel free to add any others that you wish to share through the comment section of the article.
1. Running From Your Problems
You cannot run from things forever, and believe it or not, the longer you run from something, the more difficult it becomes to face. Challenges arise for a reason, and as difficult as many of them can be to both face and overcome, doing so gives you the opportunity to become a stronger and more capable version of yourself. There are also fewer things more liberating than the feeling of finally facing something that you had put off or feared for a long time.
2. Lying to Yourself and Others
Lying is, in my opinion, the most naturally cumulative process. What starts as a simple and small lie (that may even have been told to avoid hurting someone) quickly spirals into an entirely false reality where the biggest thing preventing you from sharing the truth is the prospect of developing a reputation as a liar. Moreover, we may lie to one another once in a while, but we lie to ourselves all the time, often to protect our oh-so fragile egos. We might even be inclined to lie to ourselves when reading this list, not wanting to admit how many of these traps we actually fall into. Remember that in the end, the past has helped to make you who you are, but it does not define you; you always have the ability to make the transition to full honesty, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised by how much lighter an honest existence can feel.
3. Letting the Fear of Making a Mistake Stop You From Doing Something
Mistakes certainly can be a frustrating experience, but the risk of making one is never worth holding yourself back from doing something you feel pulled to do. We all know we learn from our mistakes, but we need to also remember that we learn even more from stepping outside of our comfort zone and doing something different or new.
4. Comparing Yourself to Others
Whether it’s an iconic figure or even a friend or co-worker, many of us have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. Think of how many times you may have said, either loudly or under your breath, “Must be nice” when looking at a facet of another person’s life. Yet, just as the famous saying goes, the grass will always seem greener on the other side. Whether or not the grass actually is greener has no bearing on the only grass we should be focused on — the one right below our feet. The moment we stop comparing and instead focus on our own experience is the moment we are most likely to both find peace in things being the way that they are and motivation to change them should we feel the need to.
5. Living for Something in the Future
Whether it’s something as temporary as an upcoming vacation or as permanent as retirement, living for something in the future is great for one key thing: Preventing us from living right now. One thing is for certain, in this life we are never going to be any younger than we are right now, so what time is better than right now? I’m not suggesting that we stop making all future plans, since they certainly can be useful, but rather that we instead focus on the present and allow the future to be what it will when the time for it comes.
6. Always Seeking Sympathy
Nobody likes a negative Nancy or a pessimistic Peter, yet so many of us regularly make a habit of sharing nothing but the unpleasant or unfavourable. As nice as it can feel to receive sympathy from another person, we all know it does absolutely nothing to change the situation that we are complaining about. In fact, it actually makes it a bigger part of your reality, since now you aren’t the only one to identify with it. Accept whatever it is that seems to be plaguing you and choose to move on from it rather than bask in the accompanying stories or emotions.
7. Trying to Relive/Make Up for Your Past
As I previously mentioned, your past does not define you, and that applies whether you look upon it favourably or wish you could forget it. As fun or torturous as reminiscing can be at times, in the end, nothing truly matters outside of this moment. Rather than preoccupy yourself with a comparison to another point in time, why not try giving all of your energy and attention to the one that is right in front of you?
8. Putting Things Off for the Eternal Tomorrow
This one could alternatively be called “being lazy,” and I’d argue it’s the one that plagues the largest percentage of us. Remembering that there is no time like the present, opt to show laziness who is boss a little more often and you might be surprised at how contagious present action can be. You will undoubtedly become more productive, and might just find yourself motivated to do a lot more than you ever thought possible.
9. Blaming Things Outside of Yourself
Even though we all do genuinely find ourselves ‘victim’ to a person or circumstance from time to time, we usually (and inaccurately) point the blame elsewhere far more often. As much as this can be an effective tool for dodging difficulty with another person, it never works when trying to avoid difficulty within yourself. You will always know the true reason behind even the grandest lie, and not living up to it will never be the easier path to travel. Own up to what you have caused or what is really holding you back and you might just find yourself a lot more in control of your own reality and even more comfortable in your own shoes.
10. Letting the Past Define Your Opinion of Others
Your friend may have unnecessarily called you a jackass three years ago, but that doesn’t mean that you need to see them as a jackass today. You should always use your own guidance to determine whether or not you want to surround yourself with certain people, but you shouldn’t let the past taint that guidance. As difficult or as emotionally charged as a lot of it may be, the past is simply baggage that should have no bearing on the present moment. Think of how much you have changed and grown throughout your life. Now consider how foolish it would be to assume that the same does not also apply to everyone around you.
11. Setting Expectations for Things Before They Happen
Let’s face it: The imagination loves to wander, and in most cases it wanders to create expectations far grander than even humanly possible. As fun as getting lost in la-la land can be at times, it also manages to do a pretty good job of making the present reality seem pretty blah by comparison. I’ve heard countless people tell me how the best things in life have always seemed to happen when they least expected it, so what better way to foster those experiences more often than to simply stop expecting? Be in the moment, and things will always seem that much more exciting (if for no other reason than you haven’t imagined them first).
12. Looking for Someone Perfect
Not only is our idea of perfect most likely heavily shaped by entertainment and popular media, but it is also ever-changing and therefore pretty well impossible to find. Rather than focusing on your search for that perfect someone to complete you, focus on what you need to do to feel complete within yourself. We are all capable of being and feeling complete love on our own; relationships are simply the extension of that love to another person. Shedding the need for “perfection” will also make you a lot more open to connecting and sharing experiences with anyone that comes into your life, helping you to remember that love can often be found in the oddest places.
13. Trying to Be Someone That You Are Not
Whether we’re being impacted by popular opinion, or trying to match the preference of someone we hope to impress, we are never doing ourselves a favour when we try to become someone else. Even if the charade manages to work in getting you what you were going for, it only does so for a false version of yourself. Focusing on understanding and fully owning, with comfort, who you truly are will take you a lot further in life than anything artificially created.
14. Beating Yourself Up
As insulting as another person can be, there is no one capable of being more vicious to ourselves than, well… ourselves. Whether you let your high school crush get away, you dropped the game winning touchdown, or did anything else you regret, nothing from the past needs to have any bearing on the present. Choosing to create this moment anew rather than weigh it down by things that are completely irrelevant to everything but your mind can be a really freeing process.
15. Just Reading and Not Doing
As amazing as books, quotes, and even articles such as this one can be to help remind us of what we already know, we must also begin putting these things into action. Allow these resources to become a starting point rather than a regularly needed reminder.
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