As the year draws to a close, many of us can identify at least a few unhealthy thought processes, feelings, and behaviors that have been holding us back in 2022. But it’s never too late to untangle a cognitive loop or a unhealthy behavioral cycle.
Here I’m going to talk about two ways to leave your self-destructive patterns where they belong – in the past.
#1. Stop sabotaging your happiness by pursuing things that are out of reach. Be happy with what you have.
Many of us sabotage ourselves when we think we have to have material things to be happy. For example, if we already have a fully functional iPhone 12, why do we feel the need to own the latest edition?
Part of this has to do with “scarcity bias”. Scarcity bias is the tendency to overvalue things to which we have limited access and to devalue things that are easily accessible and available to us.
While scarcity bias has played an important role in keeping us safe in our evolutionary past, it serves no purpose in today’s era of consumerism and choice overload.
According to a study published in Psychological and cognitive sciences, a certain amount of money is needed to live a happy and fulfilled life (for example, to have access to education, health care and a basic standard of living). But, beyond that, higher incomes do not necessarily correlate with happier lives, nor do they guarantee happiness. The hunt for scarce goods, at best, can only lead to fleeting moments of happiness
Here is a better way to discover a deeper level of satisfaction with the life you have:
- Make time for simple pleasures. Try to take a break from the competitive aspects of life and follow some simple pleasures like gardening on a sunny day followed by lunch or dinner with a close friend.
- Spend time with people who make you happy. While “me time” is important, isolating yourself is not. Spending long hours alone can lead to negative thought spirals. Instead, find people to hang out with who are comfortable with themselves. Engage in shared activities to open new avenues of joy. It can be as simple as going for an evening walk with a new or old friend.
- Plan a daily happy hour. Happy hours are not always synonymous with drinks and appetizers. You can simply jot down a “happy hour” in your daily calendar where you do whatever you need to do to relax and unwind. For example, you can take your dog for a walk while carefully avoiding technology.
#2. Let go of people-pleasing tendencies and overcome your need to be loved by others.
Many of us go crazy worrying about what other people expect of us. We end up going the extra mile to please others while compromising our own needs and wants.
If you tend to trick people to the detriment of your own well-being, try some of these tactics to break the cycle:
- Recalibrate other people’s expectations of you. Learn to accept pushing back people’s unrealistic expectations of you. Although it may seem daunting at first, it’s important to develop this skill to let people know the value of your time.
- Learn to say no. If you want to have healthy relationships where you are valued as much as you value the other person, you need to know when to say no. Make time for yourself and your hobbies and don’t crumble by giving in to pressure from others. If you ignore your need to say no once in a while, even to people you love and respect, it will hurt your self-esteem and resent those people for obstructing your personal time.
- Manage your need for constant validation from others. We tend to view behavior that pleases people as a selfless act. However, in reality, the motivation to constantly please others comes from a need to be seen as perfect. While validation from others is a great ego boost, it is necessary to understand that it is only temporary and can often cause more harm than good. It’s important for you to let go and ask yourself if being there for a certain person is the only thing that makes you feel good about yourself.
Breaking unhealthy thought and action patterns is easier said than done. But there is no better time than the present. Make the New Year your time to finally let go of the things that have held back your personal growth.