So, stop doing that!
Let me ask you a question: Are you trying to wreck your own life? I’m asking because it seems like the only possible explanation for some of the batshit crazy stuff we choose to do.
I’m not pointing fingers. Think of me as the little Monopoly guy in a striped jail bird suit — Guilty as charged! But, I’m going to be blunt here, we all seem to love wreaking havoc on our own lives by clinging to dumb ideas and behaviors that are getting use nowhere.
In fact, I was people watching today, just got off the phone with my best friend, and then had a quick little “chat” with my hubby — and everyone is totes cray. It might be part of why I love them so much.
And you, too.
But it makes me wonder if we actually love feeling like shit because that’s what we keep reading, posting, tweeting, and connecting on: I’m so stressed. I’m so overwhelmed. You won’t believe what went wrong now!
Personally, I think it’s time to put the smack down on this pattern before we really do ruin our lives.
Here are the three deadly habits that are ruining your life (by making sure you have zero energy to enjoy any fun or happiness):
1. Creating a Routine and Rigidly Sticking to It
Routines are supposed to make things better and easier, right? The self-help section of any bookstore assures that this is a way to improve your life.
But, routines can actually make sure you stay small. You know how everyone says to “think outside the box”? That sounds like an amazing way to live — beyond boundaries where everything is possible. Well, perish the thought. It’s not what you really want anyway.
Nothing makes you feel more like you’re in a box than adhering to a rigid routine. You know who you are, what you’re doing, what is expected of you, and all the characters in your life. You gain identity and certainty. Hooray!
But, it doesn’t stop there. Any stringently held routine offers the potential for an incredible amount of self-judgment when you don’t successfully stick to it. (I don’t know about you, but whenever I have to do something, that is when I am the least compliant and cooperative.)
That judgment takes energy — your energy. It takes effort and energy to disdain, criticize, and discipline yourself for your in/ability to follow your invented protocol.
But wait…there’s more! When you have a routine that you need in order to know who you are, what is expected of you, etc., then you need other people to adhere to this routine, too — because if they mess up, it messes you up. So, your identity and sanity is in their hands. What could be more relaxing than that?
I don’t know about you, but have you seen how f**ed up people are?! So yes, place my sanity in their hands, dependent, at least in part, on their ability to know how much this means to me and to perform well, and consistently. That way I can spend a considerable amount of energy making sure they stay in line so that my life will stay on schedule. (Ugh!)
Multiply that stress times the many people in your life (kids, friends, siblings, colleagues, and bosses) and then say goodbye to the rest of your energy. You will never have to pretend to be happy or creative again. Who’s got brainpower left for that?
2. Comparing Yourself to Other People
A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So all those Facebook pictures from your friends are telling the whole story of their life, right? (If there’s 30 of them, that’s 30,000 words)! You can use all those FB and Instagram postings as evidence — what they have, that you do not.
Comparing yourself to others is fool-proof. You’re taking what you have, anything that you enjoy, and giving it a grade. That grading system is arbitrary, misinformed, and cares very little about what you personally value, but rather what this reality claims you should value — money, time, winning, appearances.
So, that bike ride you genuinely enjoyed this morning that got your heart racing and lungs burning? You didn’t document it, so it might as well not have happened. Or, if you didn’t get enough Likes on the photo you did take of it, maybe that means the ride wasn’t as fun as you thought.
Oh, you didn’t ride this morning? Hmmm (you know the face that goes with that). All of your pictures are selfies? You must be alone. Are we supposed to enjoy that amazingly cute latte art alone? Sigh…Wish I had a moment to myself.
Do you catch my drift? Doesn’t feel good, does it? Like Sisyphus when he reached the top and the rock rolled back down to the bottom, you are constantly deflating. Who could soar or roar with no “wind in the sails?”
Comparison is basically the opposite of gratitude and living by your own values. That is why it sucks so much joy and energy from your life. How fabulous?!
3. Caring About What Other People Think and Taking Things Way Too Seriously
Caring about what other people think is actually based on nothing. You invest energy into an opinion of someone that you may or may not actually care about (sapping energy) and over an opinion that they may/may not have (projection or assumption).
Comparison and deflating feelings aside, this one just drains energy. It’s the hole in the cartoon boat — you are bailing water while the boat is filling. Motion that doesn’t go anywhere! Oh, rapture! Now you will never have to take a forward step for as long as you choose this!
Meaning makes everything meaningful, don’t you think? Taking things seriously injects this meaningful meaning into your life. You know why you are living and for what you are living. You know that everything happens for a reason and if you can figure out that reason, you can align with it and have an easy life.
You connect everything to you — you are the center of the Universe. And I’ll bet, if you’re even half as brilliant as me, that you can correctly guess, figure out, or otherwise reason the reason something or someone was what it was.
And it’s a good mental exercise! You can draw on your creativity to come up with connections and interpretations that only make sense to you and sharpen your debate skills by verbalizing, legitimizing, and defending the accuracy of these interpretations.
One can go for hours, even days, on this dynamo hamster wheel. You don’t burn any calories, but you can glow in the warmth of your self-righteousness.
So there they are, the top three ways to stunt your life
Now, be cautioned that the disaster state of your life is actually a fragile one. All the time and energy you’ve put into the case against your ability to be happy and create a fun living can be dashed in a moment.
But, remember, that at any time, by accident or spite, you can choose to live beyond a box and question the necessity or efficacy of your routine, you could refuse to compare yourself to others (or binge on Facebook or Instagram), or you could choose not to care what other people think of you or your choices and place greater value on choosing what will work for you to bring enjoyment and ease into life.
This does not require choosing against or opposite of what you think another person would like in order to prove that, either. You could just allow yourself to use your energy for you to create and have fun living. Your choice will either promote or counter and eventually defeat your quest to hate your life and connect on a problems level.
What will you choose? Is it time for you to choose something other than self-destruction?
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Things We ALL Do To Wreck Our Own Lives (And How To Stop).