1. Trying to please everyone 

5 Things to Quit For a Happier New YearWhen you try to please everyone else, you will fail because it’s impossible.  The person who ends up the most unhappy is you. I used to be an Olympic-level people pleaser. I tried to make others happy and dodge their displeasure at the cost of my own happiness. With this mentality, I created a world in which I placed my well-being in the hands of others for them to crumple like a piece of paper…and they did.

I realize, now that my people pleasing tactics were really a veiled attempt to sway others’ judgment of and reciprocation to me. While compassion and generosity are generally positive attributes, I gave from a place of insecurity, low self-esteem, and a sense of lack, unknowingly, in an attempt to bolster my feelings about myself. That’s giving to get — which is really taking in the end. Read more

2. Putting yourself down 

5 Things to Quit For a Happier New Year

What you say and think to yourself can help you or hurt you. Your inner dialogue is mostly below your conscious awareness and is made up of implicit memories from childhood. You can support, encourage, and reassure yourself with your self-talk or you can contribute to the downward spiral of depression and anxiety. Your repetitive thoughts actually change your brain connections and patterns to create more of the same. It’s a feedback loop.

My inner voice used to be a real witch. Just vicious. Years ago, she constantly told me that I wasn’t a good enough wife, mother, friend, daughter…you name it; that I couldn’t possibly make it on my own; that I needed a man to be valued; that I wasn’t smart enough or strong enough, blah, blah blah….  Since then, I’ve made huge strides in my personal growth. I shut the witch up, learned to actually like myself, and extend myself compassion.

You have to become aware of and work with your inner voice to help it help you find happiness and success. Life gets a lot easier when you become your own friend.  Read more

3. Living in the past

5 Things to Quit For a Happier New YearIn any life, there’s always going to be pain, joy, and everything in between. Past, present, and future. Expect it. It’s normal. However, painful memories from the past don’t have to consume your life and haunt you forever. They are in the past. They can stay there.

I’m not suggesting that you can magically make the pain go away or the horrible memories disappear. I’m suggesting that you can choose not to torture yourself and make the pain grow stronger. You can learn to bring your mind back to the present moment.

You do not have to keep revisiting the pain of your past and bringing it into your current life. Every time you do, you are fortifying the hurtful memory’s pathway in your brain. You can torture yourself with painful thoughts or you can learn to pair them with better feeling thoughts and memories. Doing this actually changes the way the memories are stored in your brain. Read more

4. Fearing change

5 Things to Quit For a Happier New YearYour brain doesn’t merely prefer certainty over ambiguity. It craves it and will pursue the known every time. This tendency, called “certainty bias,” is an illusion. The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty. To your brain, the uncertainty that comes with change is a threat which sets off the alarms. Your brain wants to return to the known to regain a sense of calm.

As someone who used to be plagued by fear of change, I’ve realized that in uncertainty lies all possibility. Think about that one for a minute. If nothing ever changed, nothing bad would happen, but nothing good would either.

When you get an anxious, fearful feeling, you need to ask yourself if it’s really warranted or just an instinctual reaction of your brain’s amygdala, the fear center, to something challenging, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable. From your brain’s perspective to get over a fear — of change or anything, — you have to feel it, expose yourself to it, and process it. Read more

5. Overthinking

5 Things to Quit For a Happier New YearYour mind has a mind of its own and races around at one hundred miles an hour jumping from one thing to the next. Sometimes, the random thoughts that pop into your head are amusing. Sometimes, they send you straight into a panic. Most of the time, they’re of the worrisome, negative, and not-very-nice variety. While you cannot control the random thoughts that pop into your head, you can consciously choose which ones you believe and act and focus on. You can also take steps to alleviate anxiety and declutter your mind.

Research shows that there’s a predictable pattern of neurological activity that’s your brain’s go-to state when it’s at rest or not actively engaging with its environment. That’s when it’s prime to overthink or ruminate. I’m sure you’re familiar with ruminating thoughts – even if you don’t call them that. Worrying is ruminating. Replaying the pain of the past is ruminating. It’s when your mind grabs hold of something and goes over and over it without any productive outcome. It’s exhausting, stressful, and no fun at all.

Rumination is really your brain’s superior problem-solving capabilities stuck in overdrive. You can stop overthinking and interrupt the rumination cycle by consciously shifting your attention which changes your brain patterns over time. Read more

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  1. Every one of these spoke to me, Debbie. You’ve given me so good things to consider for the new year.

  2. I have just discovered your website and so look forward to you popping up on my screen. Such valuable information and I devour every word.Thank you. Mary

  3. #2 has been a big one for me most of my life. Those feelings of “not enough” have plagued me and caused much of the depression throughout my life. And people pleasing was one of my routes to proving that I was enough. Once I did the work to find the source of those thoughts and feelings and mindfully replace them with more positive thoughts, I found a level of happiness that I didn’t think was possible for me. It took a lot of work but I never gave up.

  4. These are perfect Debbie! Trying to please everyone is my downfall. I’ll work on that and overthinking. I always have to remind myself not worry about what hasn’t happened yet!

    • I used to be a people pleaser. Not anymore. Now, I’m nice, but I’m a “Debbie pleaser.” I like it better this way! 🙂

  5. I’ve personally been struggling with #1, I’m a natural people pleaser. It’s important to say no every now and then.

    • I also used to be a real people-pleaser. But I learned that many times saying yes to others meant I was saying no to and disrespecting myself. I have found there is almost always a kind way to say no and people don’t react strongly usually. I am much happier now. Keep working at it. It does get easier.

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