Over the years as a NHS Wellbeing therapist, clients have shared their inner most secrets, thoughts, habits, feelings and life experiences with me.
Hundreds of stories, countless memories and emotions from all over the UK; from all walks of life, all ages, gender and professions.
In that time, I have come to notice that actually, despite our differences, there are a few things we all do which cause us to sabotage our life or feel a general sense of discontentment.
Read ahead for the 5 habits you may be doing – without even realizing it!
For easy to follow doodle videos explaining mental health find me my YouTube Channel Tidy Mind Doodles or on Instagram @TidyMindDoodles
“Everyone Is Happier Than Me”
It is easy to look at people around us, and based on appearances, feel like everyone else has their act together except you.
But how is that thought going to help you?
How will it make you feel better about your situation?
How do you know that they are not looking at you and your life and wishing they had that too? Stop comparing yourself to others – it will make you miserable – especially when people tend to advertise the best parts of their life on social media. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, remind yourself of icebergs.
Are you ice-berging yourself?
Are you comparing what you know about yourself, your whole iceberg, your insecurities, your inner critic, your past negative experiences and self doubts ; with a small portion of their life they wish to put on show?
Are you comparing the tip of their iceberg – their best bits – and forgetting that there is a lot you can’t see hidden beneath the surface? How often do people publicly share the tears and tantrums, their fears and let downs, the failed attempts, arguments with loved ones or professional or romantic rejections? Next time you notice yourself comparing icebergs try and remind yourself that this is likely to lead with you feeling low, inadequate and jealous.
“Why Can’t I Be More/ Less…”
How many times have you put yourself down in a passing way today?
How often do you call yourself names or berate yourself for not being good enough?
How often do you wish you were better, taller, thinner, smarter, prettier, sportier, more popular, funnier etc etc the list goes on.
Instead remember this. There are 7.7 billion people on this planet and there is only 1 of you. So focus on what YOU have got going on for you rather than what you have not.
FOCUS on what you like about yourself rather than what you do not like.
If you struggle to come up with something, ask a friend or a loved one directly for help or input. Or, if this feels uncomfortable , imagine what your friends, colleagues or loved ones might say that they like or admire about you. Each time you find yourself focusing on a negative trait, try and refocus on this list of what you DO like .
Otherwise, it is like having a constant bully in your mind and this can impact on your confidence and ability to enjoy who you are now. Even the most confident person in the world would start to feel low and doubt their ability to cope if they had someone telling them they were useless, stupid or not important all day every day. How you speak to yourself counts – so make sure what you say builds you up and does not tear you down.
“I Don’t Have Time For Me Time“
Do you feel like you come last, at the bottom of a very long To Do list?
If you put yourself last all the time you are going to feel run down and exhausted – and possibly fed up and a bit of a walk over. After all, how can you keep everything going if you are not looking after yourself?
You can’t pour from an empty cup – you need to make sure that each day – you do at least once nice thing for yourself.
It does not need to be fancy or time consuming. Start small – for one patient this was to listen to music on their commute to work. Another patient found ironing relaxing and planned in 5 minutes of ironing at the end of the day to unwind from their job. Whilst some people planned to doodle for 10 minutes on their lunch break , other people like to plan in a coffee with a friend after work or listen to a podcast before bed. Everyone is different – find what works for you. 5 minutes a day is better than nothing at all.
After all, you would not expect your car to run if you did not fill it up with petrol – so how are humans any different? Start by finding 5 minutes each day to plan 1 nice thing for yourself. Start small and plan it for a specific time of the day so you keeping a small window of time protected from Other Things You Have To Do’. It will help to de- stress and take a step back from the whirlwind of your day.
How much of your time do you spend thinking about the past?
Do you spend time travelling back to a moment in your life where you wished you had done something different?
Do you day dream about a different life of What Could Have Been – instead of focusing on the life you have now?
Many patients tell me how they wish they could live in the present more and stop beating themselves up for missed opportunities, decisions and inaction . They focus so much on this that they forget that the time to chase opportunities, to make new decisions and to take action is in the here and now.
Living in the past is a form of torture – you can’t control it, you can’t change it. You are just punishing yourself, wishing or hoping that something would Just Happen that will somehow fix what you do not like about your life in the here and now.
Your life is not a bus stop – stop waiting to be rescued or things to get better – start chasing stop waiting.
If we wait to be rescued, something good to just Happen To Us – then we are leaving our destiny, our lives to chance – we will not feel in control and in 20, 30, 40 years later – nothing has changed. You will still feel the same discontent because you were waiting for something to come along – rather than chasing down opportunities, chances and taking action.
Your life is not a bus stop – stop waiting to be rescued or things to get better – start chasing stop waiting. Stop wishing away your time focusing on what you did not do or day dreaming about what life could be like. This can lead to feeling trapped, powerless and unhappy in our current situation. Instead, take control. Be more active in your life.
Are you making changes to get the life you want or are you waiting for life to happen to you?
Take a chance, stop waiting around and start chasing!
“I’m Such A #~!?*+”
When clients share the way they speak to themselves or look after themselves with me I often ask, Would you say that to a friend?
The response is usually a shocked laugh or an “Oh No!”, or “Absolutely Not!”.
We are often able to cheer on our friends or loved ones, offer kind words, patience or encourage healthy habits such as eating well or having time to relax… but we often find ourselves listening to a constant internal babble of critical put downs.
We also tend to treat ourselves in a harsh way, we put pressure on ourselves and tell ourselves we should do this or we should be able to do that. This internal pressure and these expectations to be perfect is like a ticking time bomb and is a leading factor of burnout and stress.
These thoughts can make us feel small and unimportant, doubt ourselves, withdraw from others, avoid opportunities and feel horrible about ourselves.
Would you say that to a friend?
So, what if we reflected back the kind words, compassion, compliments, patience and encouragement we give others, and reflect that back towards ourselves?
What would happen to our belief in ourselves, our confidence and our perspective of our life?
Notice how you speak to yourself and try and adopt a kinder tone – you WILL notice a difference on your mood.