Many of my clients come in with complaints about personal habits that feel toxic in their lives. Just as you can detox your body when you’re feeling sluggish, it’s also possible to detox your emotional life. Here are some of the most common ways your life can back up on you, and how to handle it.
1. Frequently late
The cure to lateness is twofold: learn to estimate time better, and get more organized, so you are not delayed by looking for last minute items. Perhaps the most important reason to cure yourself of lateness is that it is rude to others, and costs you their good opinion. If your partner is late, stop waiting! Set a reasonable grace period (eg:15 minutes) and then leave without the other person, leaving a note about how to meet you wherever you’re going. That way, you are not forced to operate on the other person’s time schedule. You’ll be surprised at how quickly he or she will learn to be on time.
2. Often angry or irritated
Being easily angered or irritated is a great way to punish yourself. It raises your blood pressure, and tends to create unnecessary problems with others. Anger interferes with clear thinking, and being irritable makes it unpleasant and difficult for others to work or socialize with you. To reform this habit, you must develop more emotional maturity. Understand that your anger is not seen as power by others, but as childishness and petulance. It will lose you far more than you will gain. Learn to slow down, and reduce your overly high expectations. Allow others to be themselves, and don’t expect them to march to your drum. Counting to 10 works wonders, as does taking three deep breaths when you are upset.
Taking up yoga, meditation, tai chi, or another calming pursuit will teach you patience. Strenuous physical activity is a great way to burn off excess anger. If none of these work, see a therapist or join an anger management group.
3. Unsure of ability to do something
Insecurity and feelings of incompetence are definitely stressful, but they may also be useful. Find out if you really are unprepared for the task ahead. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help. It’s OK to be a beginner, even if you’re an expert in other things. If you don’t try to pretend you’re better than you are, you will get more help from others. Take it slowly, and allow yourself to learn as you go. Above all, be supportive to yourself, and don’t subject yourself to harsh internal criticism.
Frequently becoming overextended can be a sign of grandiosity—overblown expectations of your abilities—or of trying to control everything. Reduce your expectations of your own accomplishments, and allow others to help you in their own way. In the long run, being a team player is usually more efficient than trying to do it all alone and becoming overwhelmed.