People often drift towards habits that have worked out for them in the past. As the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Unfortunately, some of these cultivated habits may be more sinister than you may have first imagined. They may be so problematic to the point that it adds or worsens existing mental health problems if left unevaluated.
Let’s explore some of these bad habits together.
1) Working hard… too hard.
Did you know that studies show that workaholics exhibit similar characteristics to people addicted to drugs and alcohol?
The only difference between being a work addict and a vice addict is that people are awarded and praised to work excessively, according to author Diane Fassel. Overworking may be seen as productive and a means to achieve success quicker, but there are dangers to working for long hours. Problems like substance abuse, sleep disorders, and anxiety could arise if you constantly strain yourself.
Oftentimes, working normal hours can be just as productive as overworking if you use the right strategies. For instance, time blocking and priority-setting can help recalibrate your work-life balance.
2) Aiming for perfection
Do you have ambitious goals and plans that you don’t act upon because you’re too afraid to make a mistake?
Being a perfectionist is not always a good trait to have. Research professor Brene Brown says “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best.” (Brown, 2019) Instead of building you up for success, perfectionism is like a suit of armor that protects you from the pain of guilt, shame, and judgment.
The next time you think about your motivation to succeed, like scoring an A in a test, looking inward for your why may be a good point of reflection. Does your drive for success stem from the positive reinforcement of getting a good grade? Or does it come from a negative reinforcement of evading your parent’s scolding?
3) Avoiding Conflict
Do you remember a time where you chose to keep your mouth shut even when someone really got on your nerves? How did it feel?
Avoiding conflict might seem tempting at first glance; who wouldn’t want to keep harmony in the group? But, by being conflict-adverse, you suppress valid emotions and can even manifest them in non-verbal ways. Research shows that concealing or faking your emotions can lead to loneliness or depression.
When we avoid conflict, what truly strikes us is a fear of disagreeing or upsetting others. No one said it’s easy – but fostering honesty and authenticity even with the possibility of conflict is more often than not a more fulfilling road to tread.
4) Being a “yes-person”
Do you say yes to everything, even when you feel uncomfortable?
Helping friends is good, but doing it in order for people to like you is not the best attitude. Usually, being a people-pleaser stems from a lack of assertiveness and low self-esteem. Not only does this lead to a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship, but it also perpetuates bad habits that people may abuse.
Instead, be at peace with the possibility of people not liking the “new” you. If they were bad apples to begin with, they can gracefully exit from your life and you’ll be all the better. By loving yourself fully, you can have the energy to set up boundaries and leave toxic relationships behind.
5) Always Being Positive
Do you always smile even in the face of hardships? Do you conceal your true emotions and hope that all the bad feelings will go away?
A Harvard study shows that suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief, or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. (Tarratt, 2018) It could even affect memory, anxiety, and self-esteem. Sometimes, though, you may feel as if you should suppress your emotions to protect something for the long run. What if your job is on the line?
In the end, it’s always you who knows yourself best when it comes to revealing your truth. But it’s always healthy to have an outlet to express your problems. Whether it’s with your friend, significant other, therapist, or even a journal, articulating your emotions is a therapeutic activity and is leagues better than bottling it up inside.
Changing old habits is not easy. They’re habits, after all! But once you start to develop good ones, bit by bit, the weight of the world will feel a lot lighter. It may not come in a day, a month, or even a year, but it will.
That’s all for now, Psych2Goers!
- Lamothe, C. (2020, March 30). Conflict Avoidance Doesn’t Do You Any Favors. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/conflict-avoidance#how-its-harmful
- Foy, K. (2019, September 6). 6 Things You Can Expect To Happen When You Stop Being A People-Pleaser. XoNecole: Women’s Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty. https://www.xonecole.com/say-no-to-people-pleasing-6-things-you-can-expect-to-happen-when-you-stop-being-a-doormat/
- Cousins, L. (2018, February). Why ‘bottling it up’ can be harmful to your health | HCF. Https://Www.Hcf.Com.Au/Health-Agenda/Body-Mind/Mental-Health/Downsides-to-Always-Being-Positive. https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/body-mind/mental-health/downsides-to-always-being-positive
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. (2019, May 11). Perfectionism. Https://Www.Goodtherapy.Org/Learn-about-Therapy/Issues/Perfectionism.
- Korkki, P. (2015, February 5). When Hard Work Becomes Overwork. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/jobs/21career.html?_r=0
- Bradford, H. (2017, December 6). HuffPost is now a part of Verizon Media. Why Being A Workaholic Is Awful For You AND Everyone Around You. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/workaholic-bad_n_6093658