Everyone has toxic habits and behaviors, whether they want to accept that or not. And while it can be hard to look at ourselves, without our own biases, it’s necessary for us to grow as people.

Looking back at a younger version of myself, there were many times I acted in ways that were toxic and didn’t even realize it. As I have grown, and gotten older, I have come to terms with myself in a much different way. I try to maintain a certain level of self-awareness, but even with that being said, I know there is much more work needed to be done. It can be difficult to see our own toxicity, because even the worst behaviors can come from a well-intentioned place. However, when we start viewing ourselves through the eyes of another, it becomes easier for us to let go of tendencies that jeopardize our growth and our relationships.

1. Catastrophizing.

For a long time in my life, when a situation came up that made me anxious, I would envision the worst possible outcome and become obsessed with it. So much that in many cases, I would self-sabotage myself out of good opportunities. For example, say you broke down on the side of the road late at night. Your tire was flat and you needed a jack to fix it. You begin walking to a house you see in the distance and the whole way there, you envision the homeowner to be angry at you for waking him up. So angry, that you envision he will slam the door in your face, or cuss you out. By the time you make it to the door, before you even knock, you believe in the worst case outcome so much, you decide to sit on the side of the road until help comes.

In reality, the homeowner would have been glad to help, and now you wait 6 hours for a car to finally pass by you, and offer help. Catastrophizing prevents people from socializing with new people, applying for new and better jobs and many other things. Catastrophizing is toxic and honestly, the stress you cause yourself doing it will take you to an early grave.

2. Holding onto the past.

The past can be painful, but the thing is, the past is behind us. If we are always looking back, we can never move forward. And in the end, we can sit around wallowing in the sadness of our past, and the regrets we have, or we can move forward and move towards our future, which is almost always brighter. At the very least, it’s much better to move forward than it is backward.

3. Living in a victim mindset.

When bad things happen to us, it can be easy to feel like the world is against us. We may come to believe we are a victim of everyone and everything. In reality, while there will be cases in which we are victimized, we have to take the path of the survivor, not the victim. Having a victim complex only takes away your responsibility to take charge of your own life, which will cause you to get stuck in life.

4. Believing that life should be fair, and that we should always be happy.

I know this may sound blunt, but life is not fair, and we are not intended to always be happy. For the most part, happiness comes in blips and are sweet moments like a hug from our child, or a chocolate chip cookie. We can’t always be happy, and sometimes, we have to feel hardship and sadness in order to understand what to compare it to when we are feeling happy and content.

5. Not reaching out of our comfort zone.

As humans, we are geared towards comfort, but that drive can jeopardize us. The best opportunities take work, and are uncomfortable. Think about it: you may not want to spend four long years getting a degree, but the hard work pays off by providing you with a good job that you love, and are passionate about. If you always retreat to comfort, nothing in your life will ever change.

6. Talking about mutual friends when they aren’t present.

We’ve all gotten caught up in the moment and talked about someone with a mutual friend. However, this is a toxic habit that not only is hurtful to the other person, but also leaves our soul feeling dirty. Don’t gossip.

7. Comparing ourselves to other people.

Social media has provided us with many things, and perhaps the worst aspect of it is the constant comparison we make between ourselves and our lives, and the lives of other people. You are not living anyone else’s life but your own, and people only give you the highlight reel. Stop comparing yourself to anyone but the version of yourself you hope to be. Period.

8. Trying to change other people.

Far too often, people become obsessed with the idea that they can change someone else. And the thing is- YOU CANNOT. People only change because they learn from personal experience, or because they have a major emotional epiphany. If you are only friends or partners with someone because of their potential and not for who they are, you are in it for the wrong reasons.

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