6 Common Habits That Are Actually Toxic

Do you want to be a better and kinder person? Are you committing yourself to improve every day?

If you nodded in agreement, then your heart is in the right place. Great!

But even so, some habits that look good on the surface could actually be working against us.

Here are six common habits that may be toxic.

1)  Mistaking repression for being calm

Do you keep strong emotions bottled up inside? Do you say, “you’re right” or “no worries”, without actually meaning it?

While you may appear calm on the outside, hiding your negative emotions can have a negative impact. According to clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt, suppressing your emotions is said to affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem. It can also aggravate depression and anxiety in the long term.

Instead of repressing, acknowledge your emotion in a safe environment, even if it’s just by yourself. Ask yourself, “why am I feeling this emotional reaction?”. Identifying your emotion can be beneficial by itself already.

2) Being too independent

Do you hate the idea of burdening others? Do you feel like you can take on any challenges without any help?

At our earliest stages in infancy, dependency is a common trait shared among all people. You outgrow many of the basic faculties when you were younger, becoming more independent in the process. 

But to thrive as adults, being too dependent or too independent can stunt growth. This sweet spot to balance it out is called healthy dependence — where you can nurture both autonomy and intimacy.

3) You need to be in control of everything

Do you need rigid systems in place — all the time?

People who compulsively control everything usually do so to protect themselves and others from making mistakes or getting hurt. While having systems in place isn’t a bad thing, being too rigid can be problematic. According to NY-based mental health counselor Diane Webb, a person with overcontrolling tendencies can get triggered by anxiety if even just one thing isn’t in place.

Instead, try to ground yourself and focus on the things that you can control.  You can’t control things external to you, but you can control how you react to them.

4) Striving for perfectionism

Do you always want to get things right?

Perfectionism may seem like a good thing at first. After all, who wouldn’t want to attain the prestige of getting things right all the time? 

But in truth, perfectionism isn’t all the glamorous as it seems. Multiple studies link perfectionism behavior to common mental illnesses – such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. This is especially true if you reflect a maladaptive perfectionism type – where you beat yourself up for every mistake. 

Instead, practice self-compassion whenever you make mistakes. Growth isn’t always smooth-sailing, it can be treading through uncertainty too with the belief that you’ll make it out okay.

5) Skipping sleep, even for something “important”

Do you stay up late to finish deadlines or study for a test?

While you may feel like you’re saving time by getting more hours on to prepare for a test, you may actually be doing the opposite. During sleep, our brain processes information from the day to form memories. Disrupting that can diminish memory formation and learning retention. This is because sleep deprivation can make it difficult to consolidate a memory to be recalled for the future.

6) Pleasing others at your expense

Do you find yourself stretched too thin at the expense of others?

There’s nothing wrong with practicing genuine kindness and unconditional support to others. But people-pleasing goes beyond just genuine kindness. According to therapist Erika Myers, “The urge to please others can be damaging to ourselves and, potentially, to our relationships when we allow other people’s wants to have more importance than our own needs.” This can result in people taking advantage of you, feeling unsatisfied in relationships, and burnout.

Instead of people-pleasing, show kindness from a genuine heart and not as a way to control their reactions. Putting yourself in front of others isn’t selfish too, instead, it shows you have, respect for yourself.

Closing thoughts

Do you follow any of the signs above? Are you planning to change your habits to be better tomorrow?

Let us know in the comment section below. That’s all for now, Psych2Goers!


  • Cousins, L. (Feb 2018) ARE THERE DOWNSIDES TO ALWAYS TRYING TO BE POSITIVE?. Retrieved at https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/body-mind/mental-health/downsides-to-always-being-positive
  • Smith, A. September 28, 2014 What’s Wrong With Being Independent? Retrieved at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201409/whats-wrong-being-independent
  • Tartakovsky, M. (Oct 2018) When You Crave Control of Everything Retrieved at https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-you-crave-control-of-everything#3
  • Rugerri, A. 21st February 2018. The dangerous downsides of perfectionism. Retrieved at https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise
  • Marks, H. Aug 27, 2021. Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss. Retrieved at https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-deprivation-effects-on-memory
  • Raypole, C. Dec 4, 2019. How to Stop People-Pleasing (and Still Be Nice). Retrieved at https://www.healthline.com/health/people-pleaser#overcoming-it

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