Are you stuck in a job you hate, dealing with a grueling day-to-day schedule that you can’t seem to shake? Or maybe your work life is fine, but your romantic life is completely off the deep end. Your partner isn’t fulfilling her end of your “deal”, so to speak, and you feel like you’re the only one making the effort to work things out. We all encounter rough times from time to time, but the difference between occasional unhappiness and a habitual rut is a huge deal.
Thankfully, it’s probably your fault.
It might seem a bit harsh to say that it’s your fault, and it might seem downright rude to say that’s a good thing, so let me explain.
If something is your fault, you have the power to change it. It’s something you can control, in most cases, even if you’ve told yourself you can’t. Placing the blame on yourself is, in many ways, beneficial, because it gives you the motivation to work toward a solution, instead of just accepting things as they are. When it’s your fault, you want to fix it, but when it’s someone else’s fault, you want to run away from the problem.
Want to know how you can fix things without throwing away your sense of self-worth? We’ve got you covered. Read on to see the 4 bad habits that keep you from living the life you want, and what you can do to fix them.
Bad habit #1: You fight and argue.
We often think that fighting for the things we want is going to bring us closer to getting them. After all, many of us hear stories about how we’ve got to fight for love, fight for our rights, and fight for what we believe in. The only problem is that there is a huge difference between fighting for something and fighting with someone. Fighting and arguing with someone is fueled by anger and conflict, and this type of situation is likely to bring further conflict along the way.
When you engage in a verbal (or physical) fight with someone, you are both relying on the ability to overpower one another. In your love life, this can lead to resentment. Remember, the two of you should be partners – neither of you should overpower the other. The happiest relationships require balance between both parties, and you can’t have balance if you’re angry with one another all the time.
When fighting happens at work, it has the potential to cost you your job – or, at the very least, your job satisfaction. It might seem that you need to engage if your boss starts a fight with you, but realistically, you don’t. It’s human nature to respond to anger with more anger, but this only feeds a cycle of intimidation and intensity. If you do keep your job after fighting with your boss, you’re not going to be able to totally shake that resentment that’s built up.
Bad habit #2: You give up or give in too easily.
For those who want to avoid the hassles and downsides of fighting, it might seem easier to just give up on getting the outcomes that you want. You decide that you can’t afford the cost of heightened anger throughout your workday or your relationship, so instead, you elect to sacrifice. You avoid the feeling of being overpowered by just letting the other person win before it’s even begun. Over time, this makes you feel hopeless, and can lead to depression.
Consistently giving up in your relationships in order to avoid conflict seems like a good plan – but when the relationship has gotten so dire that you can’t picture the happiness anymore, clearly it’s taking an unwanted toll on you. You see a fight as being a negative thing, so you refuse to fight instead – which is a willful loss of power, as opposed to letting it be taken from you.
In a work situation, giving in can be just as harmful to your self-worth and job happiness as fighting. The things you love about your job start to become overpowered by the things you’ve given up for your job, and you may even begin to think that you’re not worthy of the job satisfaction you previously had. The metaphorical carrots that were dangling in front of you start disappearing, until there’s nothing left to do but get through the day.
Bad habit #3: You freeze and let anxiety build.
So, anger is bad, and hopelessness is bad – so what about ignoring the problem entirely? Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s not a good idea, either. When you refuse to correct an unfair expectation (such as your boss expecting a project that’ll take 12 working hours to be completed by the next day, or your girlfriend expects you to work full time and still do “wifey things”), you’re simply inviting further anxiety to the situation.
Your romantic relationships suffer when you refuse to voice your opinions. If neither partner is willing to communicate and reach a proper resolution, both sides will be filled with tension and undue stress. This may be especially true if you both feel that you’re right, but neither wants to work out a solution that works for both of you. Holding things in sustains feelings of anxiety and prevents you from moving forward. When things are left unresolved, neither side can be happy.
At work, a refusal to talk things over creates tremendous disappointments for all involved. Your supervisor will be expecting you to meet this unreasonable deadline, because you didn’t tell them you couldn’t meet it. You’ll be expecting to meet it out of sheer willpower, and you’ll be disappointed in yourself when you don’t. What’s worse is that anxiety has a strong potential to grow into a bigger barrier for you at work – keeping you from completing even the most reasonable of requests in a timely manner.
Bad habit #4: You escape, through drugs, alcohol, or other obsessive-compulsive habits.
Distracting yourself through toxic behaviors isn’t as likely to lead to anxiety or depression, but there is still a strong correlation between addictions (and compulsions) and mental health issues. Dependence on alcohol and drugs can lead to shortened attention span, schizophrenic behavior, and other mood disorders, in addition to the physical effects of the dependence. People with a family history of addiction can see even stronger effects in this area, as the addiction is usually developed in a shorter time.
Using drugs or alcohol with your partner, instead of working through the issues you have, creates another complicated situation: A shift in your oxytocin behavior. Over time, the bond you share with your partner will instead be focused on the dependence to the drug of your choice (and yes, alcohol and marijuana are both drugs). If, one day, you decide to get clean, your relationship with your partner will be very strained, since your bonds have become attached to this outside force.
I’m sure you’re well aware of the problems that drugs and alcohol can have on your career, too: In many places, you can lose your job over your addictions. While there may be some controversy surrounding whether addiction counts as a medical excuse or not, many jobs are simply not safe if you’re under the influence while working, and it’s a little difficult to pinpoint exactly when the drug or alcohol entered your system. (This is coming from someone who long opposed the idea of testing for marijuana for job placement – it seems unfair to hold someone’s recreational time against them, but in jobs that require complete mental clarity, it can even be unsafe to have too much caffeine. Be aware of your job and how much precision it takes, and consider how your recreational choices could affect those around you.
The solution: Communicate with purpose.
Okay, so technically that’s very general advice, and from a general viewpoint, everyone communicates with purpose… It’s just a matter of what that purpose is. When we seek to overpower or dominate another, our anger comes out stronger. When we seek to avoid conflict, we become depressed with our reality, or anxious about things not turning out right. When we use substances to mask the pain we’re feeling, we begin to need these coping mechanisms in order to process things the “right” way. (Note: This isn’t actually the right way, but addiction has a funny way of convincing you that it is.)
Instead of diving into one of these toxic behaviors, you need to learn how to manage your communication effectively – to reach a solution, rather than to prove a point. When we allow our conversations to take a positive and productive direction, without sacrificing our own needs and wants in the situation, it slowly becomes easier to manifest the solutions. Problems no longer seem insurmountable, because we know we have someone helping us to reach them.
Of course, being the one to initiate this type of effective communication is a lot of hard work, and it may take a long time to turn it from a conscious effort to an unconscious habit. It might be easier to start by implementing these changes to your self-talk, before actually applying them to your interpersonal communication.
In your relationships, the purpose you seek for your conversations is going to mirror what you get out of them. If you’re always looking to be right, you may end up right – and alone. If you’re always seeking to make your partner happy, you may end up being miserable with the situation you’ve created. While these issues will be easier to tackle earlier on, there’s no deadline to reaching a positive flow in your relationship. Every argument you avoid through purposeful communication is a step in the right direction.
In your work life, the outcomes are similar. Effective communication must be embraced by both sides for maximum effectiveness, but humans are known to be led by example. If you set the habit of purposeful communication into play, and diligently stick to it, you may find that your colleagues (and even superiors!) start adopting these habits as well – or, they might not. Even if you’re alone in your quest for resolution, the satisfaction of taking the right steps will definitely make an impression on those around you, and at the very least, will let you breathe easily when you say no to something that’s simply not possible.