Start Spring Fresh by Replacing These Self-Defeating Behaviors!
Life in recovery isn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck in a wintry funk with no end in sight. Often, this feeling is a symptom of self-defeating habits. If you’re not careful, problematic behaviors like procrastination, defensiveness, inferiority, isolation, and people pleasing can become your default mode.
But don’t despair if you are stuck in a harmful lifestyle cycle. You can break your bad habits! The key is to replace those bad behaviors with healthy alternatives.
So, without further ado, here are five self-defeating habits you should replace with better lifestyle choices this spring.
1. Replace Procrastination with Planning
The Problem with Procrastination
Many of us struggle with the urge to put off important tasks. Procrastination often seems like an appealing choice, but it always winds up causing more harm than good.
The appeal of procrastination comes from the human brain’s natural aversion to feeling overwhelmed. Our minds long for simplicity; therefore, when faced with a potentially overwhelming task, we often look for ways to make it simpler. Procrastination is what happens when our brain chooses the unhealthy route.
Instead of looking for practical ways to make the task easier, the procrastinator chooses to alleviate pressure by ignoring it entirely. But, of course, putting it off until tomorrow only makes for a more stressful tomorrow.
What is a person trapped in this vicious cycle to do?
Planning is a Healthier Coping Mechanism
The healthy alternative to procrastination is planning. Whereas the procrastinator will panic when given an assignment, the planner will take a more level-headed approach. Instead of viewing the task as one big impossible mountain, the planner will break the assignment down into smaller, more manageable tasks, thus making the undertaking less frightening.
One of the nice things about planning is it gives you the opportunity to visualize how you will overcome obstacles should they arise. Unforeseen challenges are part of what makes procrastination so paralyzing. Planning for those hurdles will empower you to jump them with ease.
To replace procrastination with planning, you should pay attention to the triggers that cause your procrastination. What types of tasks do you often put off? Once you identify those tasks, take some time to break them into smaller more manageable chores and visualize how you will handle obstacles. The more you think about tasks this way, the less likely you will be to procrastinate.
2. Replace Defensiveness with Empathy
Constant Defensiveness is Exhausting
No one likes to be wrong. But for some people, the fear of being wrong is downright paralyzing. From this fear, a lifestyle of constant defensiveness can emerge and wreak havoc on your relationship with the world around you.
Constant defensiveness makes it hard to interact civilly with other people. No one likes to hang out with a person who is continually trying to poke holes in their arguments. For this reason, defensive people often have few close relationships and tend to feel isolated from their surroundings.
The result of this self-defeating behavior is a skewed view of the outside world. Defensive people often fear outsiders and shun all constructive criticism with predictably disastrous consequences. It’s a needlessly fearful way to live.
How does a defensive person break down those walls?
Empathy is the Freedom to be Wrong
The best way to liberate yourself from a defensive posture is by attempting to see the world from other peoples’ perspectives. Instead of immediately dismissing an opposing argument, try to understand where it’s coming from.
Choosing empathy over defensiveness means expressing curiosity rather than being dismissive when presented with an opposing viewpoint. Empathy is a much more fruitful posture than defensiveness because it creates opportunities for learning that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
Having an empathetic perspective is liberating because it frees you from having to be right all the time. Whereas a defensive person’s world crumbles at the slightest hint of an equally valid opposing perspective, an empathetic person’s world is enriched. Learning from others is a lot more fun than shunning them.
3. Replace Inferiority with Celebrating Small Victories
Inferiority Creates Needless Comparisons
Do you often compare yourself to other people? If you do, then you’re probably aware of how awful it can make you feel.
Inferiority results from looking at others and feeling like they’re so much better at life than you are. The problem with this self-defeating behavior is it is a bold-faced lie!
The truth is you have no idea what other people are going through. You may think a person is better than you when they struggle with the same issues as you do. Everyone can look perfect from afar because we’re all experts at hiding our problems. Therefore, to measure yourself against the false appearance of perfection makes absolutely no sense! It only leads to a self-fulfilling cycle of failure, guilt, and shame.
Celebrating Small Victories Leads to Self Confidence
Instead of weighing yourself down with needless comparisons, lighten your load by celebrating your accomplishments. Feelings of inferiority often blind people from the reality of their worth. You have things worth celebrating in your own life; the trick is getting yourself to acknowledge them.
No victory is too small to celebrate. It can be anything from making your bed in the morning to running a marathon. The point is to focus on the progress you are making while ignoring the false perceptions of other people that make you feel less than.
4. Replace Isolationism with Honesty
Isolationists Don’t Receive Help Because They Don’t Ask for It
Isolationism occurs when a person refuses or is unable to ask for help when they need it. Often this behavior spawns from misguided feelings of self-sufficiency. People will deceive themselves into thinking they can handle their problems on their own when deep down they yearn for someone else to help them.
After a while, a person living in self-imposed isolation will come to accept their burdened state as the norm. They often lose faith in peoples’ ability to understand or help them. It’s a brutal and lonely existence that no person should have to endure.
Honesty Lets Other People In
If you struggle with asking people for help, you need to realize that people do want to help you. You may fear that people won’t relate to your problems, but they certainly can’t relate to them if you never tell them about them.
The truth is people value honesty. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world of stuffy pretense. You won’t be burdening your loved ones by revealing your struggles to them. If anything, you will help them because you will give them an opportunity to make a positive difference in your life. Chances are they’ve been looking for a way to love you for a long time but weren’t sure how because you wouldn’t let them in. Let them in and experience the true healing you could never experience on your own.
5. Replace People Pleasing with Self-Respect
You Can’t Please Everyone
Do you often find yourself saying yes to requests even when you know you shouldn’t? If so, then you probably also find yourself wearied by the plethora of obligations in your life.
To put it simply, people pleasing is exhausting. It’s just a fact of life that people are full of requests and needs. And if you let it, that wave of demands will sweep you away and leave you lost in a sea of shallow and unhealthy relationships.
The sad truth is people often take advantage of people pleasers. They will run you until you’re ragged because they know you cannot say no. But you can only neglect your well-being in the name of serving others for so long before you come to the end of your rope. If you’re not careful, a nervous breakdown could be right around the corner!
Respect Yourself Enough to Say No
While taking care of others is noble, you also have a responsibility to take care of yourself. Your health should always take precedence over any favors people ask of you.
So, don’t be afraid to say no. Despite what you may think, people won’t hate you for it. They may be disappointed, but their respect for you will also grow because they will see that you respect yourself.
Give yourself the same reverence you gave all those people you were trying to please and enjoy your newfound ability to control your obligations. You will find that you can please people more when you take care of yourself first.