This article is about some actions, thoughts and beliefs that we may hold in all good intentions, but without realising they may be impacting our lives negatively. This makes us wonder what is something that we are doing is not right, where are we going wrong.
1. Endless people pleasing:
We all crave social acceptance and likeability. We do want to “fit in”, be liked, accepted and appreciated for what we are. While this is purely human psychology and the way our societies have evolved, on the flip side, it may mean that sometimes people may go beyond any and every limit to please others. For them, everyone else comes before them.
The people pleasing habit can lead to a point where the person starts to become frustrated because they are always making efforts to accommodate others, but others do not respond to them in same manner. It feels that although you try to accommodate everyone’s needs but there is literally no one who understands how you feel. The reason being that you never articulate what you want, how you want to be treated, what you like and don’t like. People may also start to take you for granted and may see as someone who would cope up because they view you as so generous, so giving. What they do not realise is that when someone gives away something, it takes a portion away from them, so in a feel they are getting depleted. Think of all your time, energy and all the out of the way things that you do for others without having your needs understood and met.
Like a plant grows when it’s needs are fulfilled, if you are constantly denying your needs, not giving yourself the chance and liberty to be yourself, if you have to constantly wear a mask to please others, the inner person, the inner you starts to suffocate. Eventually such people start to feel exhausted and tired. This could lead to two actions; one is that they may decide to change, and the other is that they may even put more efforts to please others. The answer lies in reducing the habit where possible, so the continuous loop comes to a stop.
2. Following things and paths that may not be relevant to you:
At times people tend to live a very different life compared to who they really are. They may choose careers, relationships and friends who are not the right fit for them. Being in a place where you do not really belong can be a big reason of unhappiness. Taking time to explore your own interests, things and values that are important to you can actually help you understand the real you. Once you start to understand yourself, chances are that your life will start to have more clarity, a better sense of direction. If you choose to go with the flow, or do things just because everyone else is doing it, you will always need an “external” motivation to guide you. If that external motivation is not there, you may find yourself stagnant and unsure, because your heart and mind really do not have a true purpose behind things that you may be involved with.
Life will keep presenting you with unhappy circumstances, confusions, lack of inner peace and satisfaction because you are not doing what you should be doing. Initially it may take a lot of effort to challenge your comfort zone, but in the long run, finding things and people that make you happy and add value to your life, your dream, your ambition can liberate you from remaining stagnant.
3. Holding onto things, people, beliefs that may not be relevant anymore:
Holding on to things, people, relationships, jobs and careers without being actually happy is detrimental for our well being. Sometimes people keep doing the same thing over and over again because they have never thought about an alternative way of looking at things. If you think something is not working right and you have done everything that you could, letting go of it might be the answer. Putting efforts into things that cannot give you happiness is like trying to create a lake in a desert by pouring glass of water. Or imagine if your hands are already full, you would not be able to hold anything new unless you decide to leave something else. Similarly our lives also need that space for the new things, people, beliefs and mindsets to help us navigate through everyday situations.
From time to time reflect, evaluate, question and challenge the information you are presented with. This will ensure that you will develop greater understanding, knowledge and wisdom.
4. Tunnel vision and putting all eggs in one basket:
Dedication and focus are great qualities but sometimes they can make us develop tunnel vision as well. If we want something so eagerly that we put all our effort into it and for some reason, let’s say we fail to get it, the disappointment can be huge. It can tear us down. Failing to achieve something may mean that for some people, their life is not worth living. For example Edwin Armstrong who is thought to be the pioneer in FM radio committed suicide when things did not go his way. Similarly people who are so involved with anything that their whole life seems to be wrapped around it, find it difficult to carry on once their point of interest comes to an end. There have also been studies that link early retirement to early death, especially with high stress professions. By the same token, getting too involved and dependant on someone can mean that in their absence, you are left incapacitated.
People with high aims and ambitions can often have a perfectionist attitude, where they are extremely self critical about themselves and the things that they do. They can also be so hard on themselves that nothing less than their imagined goal gives them happiness. They can have such high expectations that may never get fulfilled. For example not being happy on getting A grade instead of A+ may appear as a failure to a student.
It is advised to always have an alternative plan, a range of interests and a heart to experience failure as well, because life is much greater than just one aspect.
5. Rewarding the wrong behaviours:
Problems need solution and resolution, however sometimes in our attempts to fix the problems we can often address the wrong behaviours which become reinforcing for the wrong behaviours. For example a child asking for a chocolate and his parents not giving him may learn over a period of time that every time he throws a tantrum, he gets what he wants. As a result the next time the child learns that throwing a tantrum is a means to an end, a cause-effect phenomenon. It is important that in our resolution of matters and conflicts we do not subconsciously reward the wrong behaviours. Use positive feedback instead of negative feedback where possible to reward the right behaviours.
Written by Muhammad Wasif Haq (2003)
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