What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
1. Maladaptive daydreaming. It’s the kind of mindlessness that comes with repetitive motion (walking, rocking, even riding a car or train) and loud music — when you’re so lost in an intricate daydream that you’re completely detached from your current experience. We work up these ideas in our minds to cope with our waking life, and they usually parallel whatever it is we’re feeling insecure or lost about in that moment. Daydreaming is lovely. Doing so to the point of detachment and fulfillment as a coping mechanism — not as much.
2. Constantly seeking comfort. Stop ending conversations that aren’t over because you don’t want to deal with the discomfort of “confrontation.” Stop “treating yourself” as a matter of daily course and habit to “get you through the day.” Stop immediately dismissing ideas and thoughts that undermine what you think you know is true. This is how you learn and grow. Stop seeking the path of least resistance. Nothing different happens when you’re constantly running back into the box.
3. Anxiety scrolling. We’re on autopilot at this point — scroll while you’re waiting in line, during a quiet moment at dinner, during your commute, before you go to bed. It’s not that we need to entertain ourselves, it’s that we need to quiet the fear of missing out and rationalize our anxiety about being “disconnected.”
4. Seeing things as you are, not as they are. It’s an unprecedented truth, one that often goes sorely overlooked. We’re only affected by the things we recognize in ourselves. It’s never a matter of changing circumstances, but becoming aware of whatever it is inside us they are bringing our attention to. The first step to any sort of contentment is realizing that things are neither here nor there, good nor bad. It’s all a matter of value assignment and perspective. The world isn’t out to get you, you’re out to get yourself.
5. Routines that add unnecessary, stressful structure. Routines are fantastic, (especially when you deviate from them now and again.) But craft yours around what works for you, not what you feel obligated or pressured into doing. If you wake up an hour early just to coif your hair the right way to sit at your desk all day though those extra 45 minutes of sleep could make a huge difference in your mood, evaluate why you do that, and decide what’s really more important.
6. Interacting with the same people all the time. The same coworkers for lunch, the same barista at the same café, the same texts to the same friends and the same conversations with the same deskmates everyday. I once heard that you’re only ever going to be as good as the culmination of the 5 people you interact with most, but I think it’s more that you’re only going to be as good as you maintain relationships that matter — not routines that you abide by just because.
7. Apologizing without actually doing something to better it. The thing about change is that it’s a moment-to-moment choice. You start now or you really won’t start ever. Words are pretty empty, at the end of the day. Nobody is truly convinced you’re sorry until you show them that you change.
8. Allowing yourself to exist on your mind’s default setting. If you wake up and go through the motions of your day without realizing that you have a choice in what you think, how you think, how you choose, and what you decide matters, you are going to always be at the whim of the belief that everything that happens is the result of the world being out to inconvenience you. Life is meaningless until you give it meaning, but you have to choose to do so, a choice that often doesn’t come when we operate on our innate, ego, mind setting.
9. Documenting everything you do on social media. We seem to exist on the belief of “post it or it didn’t happen.” But we need to stop making every outing about snapping a flattering photo or artsy Instagram. It reinforces the mindset of living for the sake of other people — for what they’ll think and perceive — as opposed to what you enjoy.
10. When daily conversations always come at the expense of someone else. If you notice that your only conversations with friends and coworkers are those in which you are complaining about someone or something, it’s not time you get new friends and activities, it’s time you figure out what exactly it is about yourself that you see in them that bothers you.
11. Always dating the same kind of wrong person. There isn’t much coincidence by the way of who and what you’re attracting into your life. It’s less a matter of constantly “finding the wrong person” and more a matter of “being the wrong person,” if that makes sense.
12. “Doing the rounds” on social media as a form of procrastination. We almost subconsciously hit the “f” button into our search bars every time we go to take a few second break from our work. We’re constantly cycling through checking all of the social websites really without purpose — not much changes from one moment to another. It culminates into a pattern, and we end up wasting hours “doing the rounds” without ever realizing we’re doing it.
13. Deflecting on a circumstance for your inability to be happy. I could go on for days about why happiness is a choice, but I guess I’ll sum it up with this: if it’s a circumstance that is preventing your happiness, there will always be another one that crops up. If you are reliant on another person, or job, or apartment, or situation, or problem to clear or goal to accomplish, you’ll live on the whim of other things and people. In other words: you’ll never actually be okay.
14. Going to the same places, ordering the same food, etc. I am someone who absolutely loves routine (I have an addictive personality) but you just don’t know what you’re missing until you try. You don’t realize this is a rut rather than a routine because you’re enjoying what you do rather than realizing that you could discover something you enjoy more, but won’t, because you never try.
15. Having pastimes that are about going out to GET things as opposed to DO them. Life isn’t happening in the mall. If your only pastimes somehow revolve around getting things as opposed to doing them, well, you’re not really out to enjoy yourself, you’re out to acquire another thing that makes you feel like your life has changed. Like you are changed. It’s an illusion, though. Take what you spend on new clothes and pointless, high end decor and put it toward a trip. Toward tickets to something you love. Stop going out to seek, and start going out to find.
Reprinted with permission from Thought Catalog. Want more?