My greatest phobia is being trapped. Feeling cornered or finding myself in a situation whereby I can’t find an exit is something, I fear. Whenever I drive to a new place or enter a building for the first time, I am always conscious of the exits or shortest way out. While I have been very successful in mastering my physical environments so that I don’t get trapped, I will be honest with you, in more times than I can count, I have found myself cornered with an internal factor. I have found myself enmeshed with poor thinking and unhealthy emotions. But of all the traps that we must avoid, the trap of poor habits is the main one.
Habits can be your greatest ally to freedom or your most powerful adversary. As a young man, I observe older guys who have given up on their dreams, given up on pursuing their wildest goals, and wonder what traps they fell into that could threaten my dreams. I also try to pinpoint a habit that is responsible for them living beneath their potential. While some progress and success blocking habits like drug abuse are easier to identify, the ones which are dangerous and lethal are the habits that are subtle and harder to identify. Often the habits that we don’t easily observe are the ones that often drive the ones we see such as overeating or extremely indulging in social media. So, how can we end up in the invisible prison of habits?
American successful investor, business tycoon, and philanthropist Warren Buffett said, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” When you see adults, who are despondent and their response to ‘how are you doing?’ is ‘Same old same old,” don’t think that they woke up one morning and decided to settle for less in their lives. The truth is that most people walk unaware on the slippery slope of bad habits long before they find themselves stuck with behaviors they hate, tethered with heavy chains of habits they can’t break.
In today’s post, I will share with you four habits that hold back many people. These habits are slick and have a way to plague people’s lives without them realizing it. Let begin:
1. Comparing yourself with others
If you have a social media account, whether Facebook, Instagram, or any of the many platforms that you can see the status of what your friends are up to, I bet you compare yourself more than a person without a social media account. We live in a time where we can make judgments about how we measure up with people in our immediate environment and others who are across the globe. While I believe comparing ourselves to others is natural phenomena, which might have been essential for our survival in determining our fight or flight response when facing an opponent, it’s hyperactivated because of social media.
In the present age, comparing yourself to others is detrimental. To begin with, whenever you compare your life, experiences, achievements, and purpose, you quickly lose the uniqueness of your essence.
Comparing yourself to others often triggers negative emotions such as feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and other bad habits.
While comparison is the thief of joy, worry is the thief of time and mental power. Worrying is a habit that most people don’t recognize as a habit. If a habit can be cunning, then I think worry would be at the top. It’s crafty that most people don’t realize that they are super worriers. Worry is dangerous because it dupes us to think we are in control and that the more we worry about something; the faster and better things get. The truth is worry makes us fixated on the worst-case scenario instead of working with what’s good to find solutions. Worry is never productive. It’s counterproductive and only makes things worse than they are.
So, how do you know if you are infected with this subtle habit? When you find yourself overthinking about a situation, immobilized, and overwhelmed when faced with uncertainty then worry is taking a hold of you. Worry produces anxiety which is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States every year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. But the good news is that you don’t have to be overwhelmed by worry, and don’t need prescription medication. Faith is the antidote to worry. Faith disempowers fear which is the fuel for worry. As a person of faith, I apply the word of God to stop worry in its tracks. I pray to completely defeat fear in my life. And I share my concerns with people of faith because they help me see things in the right perspective. I have learned that people who live in worry never enjoy a life of tranquility. In fact, as people who live comparing themselves with others, they also allow other bad habits to hold them back. The first and most dangerous habit that worrying produces is giving excuses.
3. Making Excuses
The easiest way to cut yourself short and live beneath your potential is by making excuses. Making excuses is coming up with “valid” reasons for not doing things that ought to be done. Making excuses is the biggest barrier to success. It kills creativity, prevents productivity, and breeds low self-esteem. In the beginning, the person making excuses for whatever reason thinks they are getting off the hook, but after a while, they hook themselves onto a life of low performance. They look at their lives and wonder what is holding them back, failing to see the tight grip the habit of excuse-making has on them.
The best way to get rid of this dangerous habit is threefold. First, be aware of your excuse-making habits and purpose to break it. Second, own it. Own your shortcoming, failures, and responsibilities. When you fail, don’t be too quick to get off the hook but rather figure out what you should have done or not done that led to your failure. Third, ask for help. Find people to hold you accountable. But it is impossible to break this habit and the other two we covered above if your self-talk is not wholesome.
4. Negative self-talk
The fastest way to kill your confidence is through negative self-talk. Any self-talk that is not reinforcing your belief of a better outcome, generating a negative attitude towards yourself and others, or casts a shadow on your outlook in life is negative talk. Negative self-talk is a bad habit that affects all of us at one point in our lives and must be defeated over and over throughout life. And to sustain victory over this habit, you must watch your thoughts. This question always helps me determine the source of any negative talk that tries to creep into my life. What is it that I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that has affected my thinking? Try asking this question whenever you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself. You will soon find the source of negative self-talk and break the cycle. Remember this; when you feed your mind with the right material, you won’t be overtaken by any of the habits we have covered today, which could hold your life back.
I titled today’s post as Avoid these Subtle Habits; They are holding you back because I believe if left unchecked, we can develop the four habits we covered unknowingly. Take the words of caution by Benjamin Franklin, “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” Let’s work on keeping away these habits so we can live a full life. Next, we will look at attitudes.