Going through life, we tend to get caught up in ‘going through the motions’ and sometimes we don’t realize our actions have consequences. These consequences can either affect the people in your environment, you personally or sometimes both. These five habits are something to be aware of as they directly affect your brain and self:
1. Immediate gratification.
Our consumer mentality has made us believe we can have anything our way. You can, most of the time, but going after what makes you happy all the time actually makes you sadder. You want what you want all the time and that expectation simply can’t be met.Instead, define your bigger goals. M. Scott Peck’s classic The Road Less Traveled emphasis on delayed gratification can be taken to a new level when you know why waiting for something matters.
Thinking you are the cause of something that has gone wrong, even though you were not responsible, creates a cycle of unhappiness known as personalization. Your brain starts thinking every grumpy person or negative event is because you were bornIts antidote is to assume it’s not about you. We have to trust that adults will tell us when they are angry with us. We cannot take on the world’s problems in a day and age when we can see all of them in living color on our smart phones
Find a safe person to talk about with for a limited period of time. In many situations, we can’t get the answers we need to the small and significant pains we experience. You may never find the phone you lost or know why the person didn’t invite you, but if you want to stop perseverating, you have to put a limit on the amount of time you stay stuck.
There is a lot of ambiguous stuff out there these days. Uncertainty is normal. That means that our feelings are constantly forming and we can’t keep track of all of them. We face too much pressure and change. And if we can be compassionate to ourselves and kind to the people around us, you shine light on your shadow. It’s hard to be judgmental when you want to understand the other person.
The answer to catastrophizing is doing a little CSI on your own thoughts. Are you really going to get fired for being late once? Will a stock market drop leave you destitute? If your spouse says something about your clothes do they really never think you are attractive? We all make things bigger than they are sometimes, and all of us have the capacity to challenge our own thoughts to decide if what’s happening is really a disaster or we simply need to go get lunch.
In each case, these brain habits have an alternative. And our problematic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors usually do. As we evolve as human beings, we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes personally and in our relationships. When we know we have options, that’s when we can develop patterns of living that are good for us and the people in our lives.