Life can feel like a dark forest with no path: you start out with enthusiasm and optimism but you find yourself lost.
If you’re feeling this way I can relate completely.
The key to lighting a torch in the darkness and finding a path starts with changing the habits you do and the things you find normal in your life.
Your journey to change your life lies in changing what you do every day.
Here are the top habits to kick in order to clarify where you want to go in life and how to get there.
We all have the desire to complain sometimes.
I used to complain so much that I drove away friends and became known as a negative, toxic person.
In a way it was true.
It’s not that I was a die-hard pessimist or even all that weak, it’s that I became so focused on what I found unsatisfying and lacking in my life that I completely embraced the victim mentality.
This was a hard habit to break, but I find that every time I complain excessively I feel noticeably worse and more defeated and downtrodden by life.
Mentioning something unsatisfactory or unacceptable is perfectly fine, but complaining for the sake of emotional venting is generally very counterproductive.
This is a habit everyone should try to break: complain as little as possible, even when you really want to.
The next habit to drop is catastrophizing.
This is something I also used to do constantly: I would imagine the worst possible scenario or accident happening to myself or people I loved.
Granted this was part of a fairly serious anxiety disorder I was struggling with, but even for those who aren’t facing mental health concerns this remains a serious challenge.
Let’s be honest:
Horrible things can and do happen in life. It’s not bad to be at least aware of that.
But when you try to feel a sense of control by already pre-imagining everything that can go wrong you create a damaging feedback loop that keeps you in a constant state of fear.
Procrastinating happens to almost everyone at some time or another.
But it can quickly become an actual habit, eating up hours and days of your life when you could be doing something productive – or at least enjoyable!
That’s the thing, procrastinating isn’t really the same as relaxing or enjoying yourself.
It’s more often clicking on another YouTube video you’re barely even interested in just to pass the time, or playing a video game because “why not?” even though you actually promised your girlfriend you’d clean the house earlier.
The result of this isn’t just that less gets done, it’s that you lose respect for yourself and stop believing your own promises.
As a result, you slowly start to feel more and more lost in life.
4) Neglecting yourself
In the opposite way that over-indulgence and vanity can become a bad habit, self-neglect is a serious issue.
This is often born from low self-esteem, but it can also be the kind of habit you carry on without even being conscious of it.
I have friends who rarely look after their appearance or style, for example, because they were taught from a young age that they aren’t valuable.
They absorbed certain lesser of low value, often from parents and peers, and as a result end up neglecting themselves and their needs.
5) Hiding yourself
The next unfortunate habit is when we learn to hide ourselves or try to downplay our needs, wants and beliefs.
“What, me? No I’m fine,” you tell your friend as he smokes next to you and gives you asthma.
Hiding your light under a bushel does yourself and others a disservice.
You’re not just undervaluing yourself, you’re also depriving others of all the talents and wonderful things you have to share.
Speak clearly, speak proud, be yourself!
This leads me to the next point…
6) People pleasing
People pleasing is a very sneaky habit that can creep up on you if you’re not careful.
None of us want to clash or have conflicts, but people pleasing crosses the line into considering our decisions and behavior based on how others will receive them rather than on what we truly want.
It’s OK to say no.
And it’s OK to disappoint people sometimes in order to do what’s necessary for your own life and in line with your own values.
7) Seeking validation
A counterpart to people-pleasing is seeking validation.
This is very common in more introverted people and can become a truly terrible and disempowering habit.
It’s important not to seek external validation or approval from other, because it makes you dependent and weakened.
Not only is your self-worth now depending on the next opinion you hear, you’re also potentially opening yourself to manipulators, egoists and bullies who can prey on this need of yours to benefit or take advantage of you in numerous ways.
8) Looking for completion in others
On a related note is the habit of looking for completion in others, especially in romantic partners.
I understand this urge and that it’s easy to say you’re well past it when you actually aren’t…
Being happy with somebody or falling in love with somebody is an amazing experience.
But it’s crucial to ensure you never hinge your self-worth or well-being on the love or approval you receive from another person, even a person you love and care for deeply.
Instead, try to develop yourself as fully as possible and think of romance as a meeting of two whole beings rather than two halves of a whole.
9) Fearing rejection
Rejection hurts. Psychologists have shown it’s connected to our survival system because in our ancestral past rejection was often the same (or worse) than death.
Being kicked out of the tribe or turned down for marriage wasn’t just sad, or a drag:
It potentially meant being cut off from actual food, water, physical protection and a future of any kind.
Rejection hurts no matter what you do. And it will happen in one form or another, whether it’s in friendships, relationships, business ties or family situations.
You can’t stop it from hurting, but it’s crucial not to fear it and not to ever believe that rejection defines your worth.
It doesn’t and it can’t.
10) Chasing drama
On the flipside of fearing rejection and wanting people-pleasing is addiction to drama.
This is surprisingly common, especially in today’s social media-mad age.
Drama, gossip, anger and confrontation can be entertaining.
But in the end it just leaves you feeling empty and wastes your time, especially once the drama circles around to you!
Then it’s not so fun anymore.
The solution is to avoid talking much about others or judging them. It tends to circle back around.
11) Buying into self-defeating narratives
We all have a script that we star in (or play a supporting role in).
That’s our story, our life as we know it.
Make sure that whatever starting setting and details you were given (your basic identity) doesn’t trap you in a cycle.
“Oh I’m just this random guy who grew up poor. I’m nothing.”
“I’m that girl who got bullied in high school, nobody really appreciates me.”
These experiences and painful narratives are real in the sense that they’re almost always based on real trauma and real struggle.
But choosing to continue believing them and cling to them damages you.
It sabotages every area of your life that you let it enter.
It’s crucial to write a new script or at least make major edits:
You’re the hero. You can do this. You will find love. You’re a great person.
This isn’t a mantra or some hokey self-help trick, this is your life. This is who you are and you know this.
12) Buying into overly idealistic narratives
On the flip side of being lost in fears of deficiency and abandonment is being lost in daydreams.
You can end up getting so used to believing in a perfect utopia that you miss the broken but worthwhile world around you.
Idealism can be great when it drives real action.
But it can also be quite divorced from reality and actually weaken your resolve, almost like a siren song leading you away from your goal.
Whether it’s love, finances, future goals or your spiritual journey, make sure you’re not just believing whatever happens to make you feel nice or give you a buzz.
Make sure it’s real.
Be careful of daydreaming and idealizing too much, because real life can pass you by!
Finding your way
Saying goodbye to the following habits will give you a big boost.
There’s no guarantee that everything will be smooth sailing, but that’s just the point:
Life’s already a challenge, don’t make it worse on yourself by engaging in the habits above.
Everyone has their struggles in life, but at least we can do our best to ensure that our struggles are meaningful and part of a path forward!
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