Overthinking and other unpleasant habits to avoid

Are you a worrier? Do you spend too much time comparing or criticizing? Toxic behaviors like these can have a negative effect on life. Turn bad habits into positive ones by recognizing your weaknesses and working to change them.

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  • Part of being human is making mistakes. Sometimes, however, we hold onto bad habits or continue in destructive patterns of behavior. I find myself comparing myself to others more often than I'd like. Because my mom tends to be a worrier, I've had to consciously try not to worry about things that are out of my control. These habits are detrimental to my emotional health, and I’d like to get rid of them. If you find yourself engaging in any of the following seven behaviors, it's time to make a change.

  • 1. Overthinking

  • Women are great at overthinking things. Overthinking takes time and energy and can lead to more problems. If you make a plan, follow through with it making minor changes along the way only if necessary.

  • Overthinking small things, like which earrings to wear or what to have for dinner, can be exhausting leaving you drained for making important decisions. If you tend to overthink, train yourself to choose between just two things and don't return to thinking about a decision after you’ve made it.

  • 2. Criticizing

  • It's easy to criticize others when we are feeling unhappy. But criticizing isn’t good for either party. If I have to deal with a difficult person or situation, I try to chalk it up to “just one of those things” in life that isn’t fun or pleasant. Sometimes people need correction but try not to criticize. For me, this is especially important as I interact with my children and husband. Criticism takes on a hurtful, judgmental tone. Correction is gentle and helpful.

  • 3. Worrying

  • It's OK to worry about things that are troubling you. Health and financial problems are big worries for many. What we shouldn’t spend time worrying about are things we can’t change or influence, or things that are really minor in the grand scheme of things. Intense worrying can lead to mental anxiety and physical stress. If you find yourself worrying too much, find ways to decrease stress in your life or someone to share your worries with.

  • 4. Comparing

  • This is my worst habit. I often find myself comparing my physical appearance to others'. The result usually leaves me feeling self-conscious and discontent. Comparing abilities, salaries, home size and talents is common, but unnecessary. Instead of comparing, focus on what makes you unique and what you are good at. Then find the good in others and help them see it, too.

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  • 5. Whining

  • Children aren’t the only ones who excel in whining. When adults whine or complain, they appear ungrateful and childish. If I find myself whining about something, I try and stop. Then I think “What can I do to change this situation?” If I can’t feasibly do anything, I tell myself to “buck up” and make it through. If I find a solution, I try and make a change for the better.

  • Of course, a little whining can go a long way if you are venting to the right person. Just be sure not to drag them down into your pity party. I admire people with positive attitudes who seem to always see the best in everything.

  • 6. Coveting

  • One of my closest friends just moved into a house three times the size of mine. My eyes widened as I imagined what I would do with all that space. Then I thought of cleaning a house that size, and the moment was over. Coveting the belongings, abilities or appearance of others makes us ungrateful. To avoid coveting, nurture in yourself a thankful heart.

  • 7. Gossiping

  • The hurtful habit of gossiping often starts with teenage girls, but adult women often continue the habit well beyond high school. Like criticizing, gossip is judgmental and leads to unhappiness. If I hear gossip, I try not to pass it along. I also attempt to cut off conversations that seem to be leading toward gossip. Ask yourself three questions before sharing information. 1. Is it your information to share? 2. Is it true? 3. Is it kind?

  • I believe people are meant to be happy in life. While the habits mentioned above detract from happiness, positive habits like smiling, helping others, being grateful and speaking kindly contribute to happiness. Take a look at your life and your interactions with others. See if you can replace a bad habit with a positive one. But don’t overthink it.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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