Of course there are more than 10, but these are the ones that get me!
- Judgement. The psychological truth of mirroring, which just means that the traits you see in others are the ones within you (whether negative or positive), has been understood for decades now. Everyone you see out there is your mirror, reflecting parts of your consciousness back to you. Those traits you most admire in another? That’s within you as well. So are the ones you dislike.
Rather than judging another, any time a negative thought comes up about someone else, look in the mirror. Find out how to heal it within yourself.
- Negative Thinking. We talk about this a lot! But it causes so much to occur that just takes the joy out of life. “But x is true!” you say. Well, do you know for sure what the outcome will be? Really? If so, then please send your crystal ball this way! We can never know for sure any outcome. And life is fraught with enough pitfalls that we may as well chooses to see a positive outcome until proven otherwise.
- Taking “bad” events personally. Okay, so yes, perhaps you did cause the War. But perhaps, you didn’t. Maybe something you did caused a problem. But does that mean you’re a bad person? Don’t you get to slip up sometime too? Own it. Fix it. Move on.
- Seeing “bad” events as ubiquitous. Okay, yeah, sometimes you get in a rut and it seems like the bad stuff is just widespread and keeps happening. But does it really? If you fail a test in college, which brings up right off the bat failing something in fourth grade, well, maybe we have a problem. Just because something happened before, and happened again, doesn’t mean it happens all the time! How many tests did you pass in between? There must have been some or you wouldn’t be in college to begin with.
- Seeing “bad” events as permanent. Boy, doesn’t that come up some times? “I didn’t sell the story to Random House, and I never will.” Again, exactly how do you know the latter? Yep, this story didn’t sell to the top of the food chain, but what about that lovely letter from the editor, asking to see your next work? You don’t think this is success? Really?
I recently experienced something similar when getting short stories ready to bundle and sell. Many had been previous published, in hoity-toity literary magazines and anthologies. Some were unpublished, and as I sorted through those, I found beautiful handwritten notes from editors, asking to see my next story. And you know what? I never sent it to them. I got into the “I’ll never sell anything” mode, and shot myself in the proverbial foot.
This is a demon I know well! Don’t believe its voice.
- Overthinking a problem. If you stay stuck in your head, keep ruminating about a problem, it only gets worse. It keeps you stuck in the problem, and the problem worsens the longer you spend over-thinking it. Boy, do I know this one! What’s worse, it keeps you from clearing your mind so actual problem-solving skills can come to the surface and deal with the issue.
As Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.”
- Over-commitment. This one’s a doozy. If you’re active and engaged and pursing your life, it’s a given that others will ask you to do more.
Decades ago I was an executive with the American Cancer Society, and my job was to organize volunteer boards and committees. As anyone who’s ever been involved managing volunteers knows, in order to get something done, ask the busiest person in the room!
And while we do want to succeed in our careers and other pursuits, the surest way to kill progress is to overload your time so that you can’t do anything as well as it needs to be done.
I am of course the queen of this! But I’ve learned to say no. Just, no.
- Not following through. This is the flip side of the above (and often the result of it as well). But if you do commit to something, and don’t actually do it, guilt surges up. Perhaps shame. It does a number on your self-esteem and self-confidence.
See where this road goes? It’s not pretty.
- Perfectionism. We’ve all heard a lot about this in the last decades. At least women have! We know what a bear this can be. It just basically means that after the fact of whatever event, you can’t let it go. You’re more likely to continue thinking about it (see ruminating above!)
In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers found that even when purchasing things, if you have that “must have the best” mindset, you’ll end up with magnified feelings of regret and dissatisfaction. And when that happens, it becomes much more difficult to let go of past decisions, and especially, past mistakes.
- You see Happiness as something outside of yourself. I talk about this a lot. And while external events (selling that story to Random House!) can bring exhilaration and joy, that event, too, will wane. And with it come fears about how the book will sell, and do I really deserve this, and . . . You get the picture.
Unless your happiness is grounded within you—no matter what happens. Because the way to happiness truly is an inside job. If you don’t get it there, you won’t get it anywhere.
As I go back over this list, I realize I have work to do! How about you?