We don’t intend to cause ourselves unnecessary anxiety or stress, but we can’t help it sometimes. Many of us have learned coping skills that are counterproductive when we look at the long-term effects. These techniques may seem like a good idea and at times feel necessary, but they aren’t. Realizing when we’re doing these self-destructive habits can help us understand when to refocus or just let go to find the peace we covet.
1. Faking Happiness
It is not necessary to fake a smile or act like life is great when it’s not. The term “fake it until you make it” is generally accepted as a coping mechanism. But this facade doesn’t help to get to the root of your problem. Faking an emotion in the short-term may feel necessary, but understanding your emotions and finding healthy ways to express them will give rise to happiness and contentment. Don’t fake emotions; accept them, understand them, and let them pass.
“I would rather wear honest tears than the most beautiful and elaborately faked smile.” ― Tyler Knott Gregson
2. Living in the Past or Future
So much stress and anxiety are caused by the simple exercise of thinking about the past or future. Agonizing about the past doesn’t fix or change any of the occurrences, yet we punish ourselves with things we can’t correct. Spending too much time in the future creates anxiety over many circumstances that will never happen. I’m not sure anyone truly eradicates future and past tenses from their thoughts, but we can consciously practice being in the present moment. This can be as simple as intentionally focusing your attention by listening, smelling, seeing, and feeling the things in your presence. The present is what you have; consider it a gift and live in it.
“Live Today! Do not allow your spirit to be softened of your happiness to be limited by a day you cannot have back or a day that does not yet exist.” ― Steve Maraboli
3. Focusing on What You Aren’t
Human beings seem notorious for finding their own weaknesses or inadequacies and concentrating on them to our detriment. We regularly like to compare ourselves to others and continually focus on the contrasts. Unfortunately, we typically overemphasize the talents and strengths of others and diminish our own.
“Comparison is the root of all feelings of inferiority. The moment you begin examining other people’s strengths against your most obvious weaknesses, your self-esteem starts to crumble!” ― James C. Dobson
We also direct our attention to the things we don’t accomplish rather than appreciating the process we make. I’m just as guilty as anyone of looking at the one or two things I didn’t complete and letting that define my day rather than all the things I checked off my list. Reflecting on the good is key to peace of mind. Whether you journal, meditate or pray, it doesn’t matter; it’s about acknowledging the good.
4. Not Recharging
We can give and give, but at some point, you have to rest. Many of us run around until we have little to no energy, and then we go some more. Realize the damage you’re doing to yourself and others when we can’t be fully engaged.
“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.” — Lori Deschene
Take the time to do nothing. A day to reset and recharge can do wonders for your body, spirit, and mind. Don’t underestimate the value you bring when you take time for yourself.