A few years ago, I went on a self-help book binge in order to try and better my life.

I adopted healthier eating habits, moved my body more, and focussed my attention on positive habits.

But I didn’t feel my life getting any better.

I would wake up feeling energized and by mid-afternoon, I’d feel drained.

Towards the end of 2019, I realized what I was doing wrong.

You see, I was so focused on inculcating positive habits, that I forgot to cut out the toxic habits.

Apart from cutting out the toxic people in my life, I started cutting out multiple toxic behaviors which took more time than the positive ones.

None of these are easy, but you will notice a stark difference in your life once you cut them out or stop doing them entirely.

And you will feel lighter, happier and so much freer.

Let’s begin!

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1. Your are unable to let go of the past

You need to let go of the past in order to move forward with your life and be happy.

The past can weigh down on you like an anchor.

I know, because for a long time, I held onto the past with a tight grip believing that it would help me be safe.

And although you feel like the past will save you from making mistakes in the future, it actually does quite the opposite.

It prevents you from taking chances and spoils every opportunity that might change your life for the better.

It also weighs down on you especially if you believe that the past will recur. It can play on your mind and prevent you from forming any meaningful relationships.

Learn to let go of the past, let go of your grudges and move forward.

Do it for yourself. You owe yourself that much.

2. You are attracted to negative banter

Gossip and negative banter will not get you anywhere in life. It may provide a really good distraction but it will tear you down eventually.

I’m not going to lie, I used to enjoy negative gossip when I was in college. I stayed in a girls’ dorm, so there was plenty of it to go around almost every night.

It’s all fun and games until one day, the gossip is targeted at you.

I learned a bitter lesson – don’t play the game unless you can take losing.

I never engaged in gossip after that. And eventually, I stopped associating with the people who did.

My life became so much happier without all that negativity.

The same goes for social media.

Once you become an influencer, you’re going to get targeted by good and bad press. It is crucial that no matter who you are or where you’re from, you keep your nose clean and just do your job.

Do not engage in gossip on social media. It will live on forever.

I refuse to partake in any comment thread where people are bashing down someone or tearing a person apart by scrutinizing his/her actions.

Everybody makes mistakes.

No amount of bashing is going to help change that person’s behavior because let’s face it, gossip and negative comments come from a negative place.

That gossip can provide a good temporary distraction but that’s all it ever will be. It will never get you anywhere in life.

If you truly want to help someone, private message them personally or send them an email instead of taking to Twitter.

Be kind. Treat people the same way you want to be treated.

3. You constantly complain

Complaining constantly will never make your life better.

Have you ever been around a person who constantly complains about everything?

They will tell you about how much their job sucks or how mean their co-workers are to them or how their boss never appreciates them.

They have nothing good to say about anyone or anything.

Yet, they will attempt to make no change to their lives and continue on the same path for years to come.

This was me at one point.

I hated my university, I detested the schedule and I honestly did not like my engineering syllabus.

I complained and battled with it for four years but never had the courage to quit.

It was only after I had graduated, that I decided my life should be different. I went back to the drawing board and started an online business instead of joining a company and working as a Software Engineer.

It took me a lot of time to grow my business because I was doing it from scratch and learning new things every single day but I never let it stop me from living the life I wanted to lead.

If you are currently unhappy with your job or wherever you are, don’t complain. Make a plan.

Start taking steps to change your life and do something that you are passionate about.

You don’t need to quit your job right now. Start a side hobby. Start writing, or creating something on the side.

Make it a side-hustle till you make enough money to quit your day job and do something that you honestly love doing.

Work towards your goals.

Claim your life and make it your own.

4. You compare yourself to others

Constantly comparing yourself to other people is eventually going to lead to depression.

Social media has made this particular habit almost too easy.

It’s extremely hard to see a feed of a person who seems to have a better life than us and not feel a twinge of envy.

But stop yourself, the moment that thought crosses your mind.

You don’t know what she’s dealing with.

She may be battling depression, an eating disorder, trying to save her marriage, or just struggling to save her son from cancer.

You don’t know anyone’s life story except for the one they show you.

And people in general, do not like to talk about their failures.

They want to talk about their successes.

Good for them.

Remember no matter what emotional pain you’re going through or what obstacle you are facing, you aren’t alone.

Just because people aren’t talking about theirs, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Everyone has their own story. Stick to yours. Focus on only yours.

5. Your worst enemy is you

You constantly belittle yourself and put yourself down.
  • You can’t do this presentation, you’re going to fail.
  • He isn’t busy, he’s just avoiding you.
  • How can you possibly stuff down that cake when you’re so overweight? Stop.
  • Nobody likes you, why do you even try?

If thoughts like these are constantly in your head, then you need to sit down and take a deep breath.

Stop being so hard on yourself.

It’s good to be self-aware but if every thought you have about yourself is so harsh, then you’re being really unfair to yourself.

You wouldn’t say this to your friend, would you?

Then stop being so unkind to yourself.

Instead of focusing on all the negatives, start reminding yourself of your achievements and start being kind to yourself.

  • This presentation is going to go well, I have spent all week preparing for it.
  • He’s probably busy, because we all have our own lives to lead. I’ll call him tomorrow or wait for him to call me back.
  • I ate way too much cake, but I’m not going to give up. I’ve done so well this whole week. I’ll try again tomorrow.
  • I have so many people who love me, I’m lucky.

Work on positive affirmations and see the difference it will make to your behavior and your personality.

6. You force people to change

Trying to change people will only end up hurting you. Stop.

Albeit this one is more focused on people in relationships, but nonetheless it applies.

There is a difference between loving someone for who they are and loving someone for who you want them to be.

Know the difference.

Media has popularised abusive relationships to a large extent and a lot of people genuinely believe that they can change the person they love to become a better person.

I am not saying that this is not possible, but it is a bit of a stretch.

A lot of people don’t really change.

Those little red flags that you’re seeing now are only going to get amplified when you start spending more time with them.

You can always hope for change, but it’s better to focus on changing yourself rather than the person you are with.

You can advise, talk, and share your concerns with this person, but that’s the maximum you can do before you start harming yourself emotionally and mentally.

If the person is unwilling to change or constantly exhibits abusive behavior, it may be a huge sign that it’s time to leave.

7. You are unable to say no to anyone

Learn how to say no without feeling crappy. It is important for your own well-being.

You constantly drag yourself to events you don’t want to go to or you’re always doing favors for people you don’t like.

You just can’t seem to say no because you either cannot speak up or can’t hurt their feelings.

Either way, you are doing more harm than good.

In order to become happier, you need to start doing more things that make you happy.

Because if you keep saying yes to everything, you are saying a firm no to things you really want to do.

And you’re working yourself to the bone just to be miserable.

Stop.

Learn to say no without feeling crappy.

Before you start saying yes or no to someone, take some time to understand who you are first.

If you’re happy going to events, then, by all means, go.

If you prefer to stay at home on a Friday night with your cats and watch Gilmore Girls, then why are you dragging yourself to show up at office events?

Use that time to rejuvenate yourself.

You’ll start to notice your life becoming more fulfilling when you start doing the things that truly make you happy.

8. You play the victim card constantly

Stop playing the victim card because you are not making any real progress in your life.

You constantly feel let down or angered by the fact that people harm you or are out to get you.

This is understandable because you have either been hurt in the past or ignored growing up or both.

But you need to let it go.

Not everyone in this world is cruel and is out to get you.

Sometimes, bad things happen. Coincidentally or not, people tend to put themselves first.

When they do this, some are bound to get hurt.

It has nothing to do with you, it’s just how life works.

There is very little you can do. But instead of controlling what you can’t, focus on what you can.

Focus on how you react and how you’ll adapt to the situation instead.

It’s too late to go back and change the past.

The past isn’t in your control.

So, let go of the past and try to fix what you can.

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9. You are waiting for the right opportunity to do something

Waiting for the right opportunity is never the answer. Just do what you want to do.

Sometimes, the right opportunity may never present itself. Because there is none.

There is no right time to start a business or a blog, a right time to start taking an online class, or a right time to start working on your dreams.

Do it now.

If you’ve been wanting to write a novel, start it now.

If you’ve been wanting to start exercising, do it today.

Take that leap of faith and just start.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. Very rarely do people get things right the first time. Dive into researching but don’t let it consume you.

Set a deadline and actively work towards making your dreams come true.

Your future self will thank you.

10. You are unable to wait

Sometimes there are things that are beyond your control and you will have to wait.

Sometimes we want all the answers and we want it now.

I’m guilty of this particular trait and although I wish I could claim that I managed to get rid of this toxic habit, I’d be lying if I did.

Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t have all the answers.

You may have to wait.

And things may not be in your control no matter how careful you are or how much you try to control things.

In this scenario, it will pay to be patient.

Patience does not come easy, especially to people who are used to getting what they want immediately.

But it is a trait you will need to inculcate if you want to be happy.

You will have to learn to wait and know that one day you’ll get an answer. You have to be comfortable with not knowing.

And this is by far one of the most difficult habits to adopt.

11. You have a desire to shop when you’re sad or bored

You feel like shopping every time you are sad or bored. This toxic habit will burn a hole in your pocket.

I was one of these people for a long time, pretty much all my life.

In 2020, I started adopting minimalism. It was very hard. I couldn’t declutter as easily as most of my friends could.

I had collected a lot of stuff even though I was still in my 20s.

At one point, I realized that I didn’t own my stuff, it was owning me.

My mind was constantly at ill-ease and I felt weighed down by all the things I owned.

I was living alone with 2 dogs, why did I feel like I needed so many things?

I started downsizing slowly. And with time, it became easier.

I started reading books and stories of minimalism and how much peace people all over the world gained just by getting rid of the things that they don’t need – or more importantly making room for the things that they did need.

And it changed my life.

I stopped shopping almost entirely. I no longer collect and hoard stationery, books, and cutlery. I have enough to last me a lifetime.

I only buy consumables and very rarely a graphic novel because it’s hard to read those on your phone.

Even if I buy a book, I make sure to return one in its place. This helps me keep the balance.

I have been able to save so much money after getting rid of this toxic habit which I can put to better use and I’m focusing more on experiences rather than possessions.

Shopping can provide you happiness, but it’s very short-lived.

You don’t need to spend money or buy something new every time you’re sad or bored. Find a better way to deal with your emotional pain. Shopping is one of the top toxic skills on the list and once you remove it, you will find so much peace.

Additionally, if you’re looking to get started with minimalism and decluttering, I highly recommend these 4 books to help you fall in love with minimalism.

12. You are afraid of what people think of you

Don't live your life for others. Focus on your own experiences and live for yourself. You can never find happiness if you're trying to please people.

No matter who you are, or how famous you are, you cannot live your life to please others.

Everybody is faced with their own challenges and problems and although you may cross their minds for a second, that’s basically it.

Nobody is going to obsess over you and analyze what you’ve done.

Even if there is a remote chance that they do, it shouldn’t matter.

Because you should answer to nobody but yourself.

In the end, everything that you do and everything that you say affects only you directly.

You cannot live your life trying to please everybody or satisfy everybody. You will not live, only survive.

Life is too short for that. Focus on yourself first.

You control your own life.

13. You are scared to take risks or make mistakes

Learn to take risks even if you're scared. Nobody is going to push you except yourself.

If you look at any successful person who has achieved something for themselves in any arena, you’ll only see all their milestones.

What you’re not going to see, is the number of times they have failed just to get to that point.

There is no such thing as not making mistakes or not failing.

It’s part of the process.

Look at any Writer, Artist, Fitness Guru, Minimalist, Runner, Scientist… anyone.

They will all have a whole log of failures behind them.

They have not let it interfere with their goals or missions but have taken notes of what not to do the next time.

They learn quickly and get up every time they fall.

That’s it.

No matter what field you take, what risk you’re taking, there will always be a chance that you might fail. But it doesn’t have to be permanent or define you.

When I started an online business, I failed in many endeavors. Not everything I did was a roaring success.

It took me a few failed attempts to realize what I was actually good at and I did more of those which resulted in better results.

Do not stop playing the game, if you lose 1-2 rounds. Keep playing. Keep working.

In the end, it’s your consistency and perseverance that will determine if you win or lose.

Conclusion

Nobody is perfect.

We all have our vices. And the only way to live a happy and healthy life is to slowly weed out all the toxic habits that have somehow become ingrained in our habits and character.

The fact that you’re even reading this article is a positive sign that you want to change. You’ve taken the first step towards reforming yourself and creating a better life for yourself.

Pat yourself on the back because you possess a great deal of strength.

Once you’ve identified your toxic habits, try to cut them out slowly. It is not going to be an overnight process, but you have to start somewhere.

And with time, you will find your life becoming easier, happier, and definitely more rewarding.

I promise.

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Angela is a 29 year old Illustrator and Blogger living with her 2 adorable labradors in Bangalore, India. When she's not writing her heart out or drawing, you'll find her sipping chai and reading non-fiction books.

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