Two common but damaging behaviors — overthinking and taking everything personally — will wreak havoc on your happiness.
We are our own worst enemy. No one can stop us in our tracks like the voice in our head – that internal audio we run on repeat every day out of habit. We can chant affirmations, intentions, and meditations all day long, but until we stop these two destructive behaviors and their companion internal audio loops, nothing will really change.
1. Overthinking. This sticky mess will drive you crazy. I’m actually a good, pragmatic decision-maker when it comes to important decisions. I know where and how to get the input I need, and what questions to ask to make informed, sometimes difficult decisions so next steps can be planned, prioritized, and implemented. Selling property…making investments…moving to a new home… I can make these big decisions in a careful, efficient manner, with clarity and a vision for successful outcomes, without overthinking and second-guessing. I am adult AF with the heavy stuff.
But it’s the little sh*t that f*cks me up every single time. I mean minuscule, over-the-top-dumb-ass crap. I’ve realized the smaller it is, the more it taps into smaller me – that little kid that resides in all of us– and all the messy inner-child angst.
What we’re really overthinking is other people’s perceived reactions to what we are about to do, and it’s all courtesy of that voice in our own head. At its worst, this overthinking can seep into obsessing territory. It can cause decision paralysis that stops progress and eats up precious time and energy. Why? Because of small emotions. They’re big feelings, but they emanate from a small place (person?) inside.
Overthinking small stuff is completely wrapped up in caring what other people think, and that comes from a small child’s big need to be accepted and not disliked. It’s totally in my own head, and I am getting better with it, but I still have work to do. We Aquarians and introverts are known for overthinking and hanging out in our heads, so it’s taking extra effort.
I can overthink the hell out of something as small as a text-message reply because I don’t want to look dumb, or needy, or conceited, or whatever unflattering label I’m desperate to avoid. I can overthink a subject line in an email because I don’t want to sound out-of-touch, or too interested, or too detached. I got out of bed in the middle of the night to Google if the colors of the heart emojis had meaning because I was afraid of looking rude or disrespectful. Turns out I just look stupid…and horny as hell. The heart emoji colors do have meanings and purple (my favorite color) can mean booty call or horny. Ooops.
(OK, in fairness to me there are extenuating circumstances with the emoji thing. It was only six years ago when I got a phone that even had emojis – a used iPhone 4. I didn’t know the smiling chocolate soft–serve ice cream was not that until my niece asked me why I was texting her poop. And we won’t get into the embarrassment of finding out the emojis I intended to represent farmer’s market bounty were actually used for cock and ass. Thank goodness I hadn’t thrown in a couple purple heart emojis, too. I haven’t bought a peach or eggplant since.)
2. Taking Everything Personally. This is linked to overthinking and also comes from caring what other people think about you. More low self-confidence, low self-esteem, inner-child stuff. Unlike standard overthinking, though, taking things personally almost always leads to feelings of anger, and sometimes acts of retribution. Somebody did something because they are intentionally f*cking with you. There are different scenarios and levels of perceived offense, but this is the basic premise whether it’s in response to the actions of a stranger or a loved one or…a fortune?
Taking others’ actions personally can be deadly at its most extreme — as with road rage — or it can just kill your happiness. I have hurt my own feelings and pissed myself off by listening to the voice in my head telling me folks were deliberately targeting/insulting/screwing with me in some way, when in actuality they weren’t even thinking about me at all. And if they were, their actions were rooted in their own issues, not mine. Getting out of this destructive thought trap, and learning to give zero f*cks in general about what people think of you, is critical to successfully living an authentic, happy life.
Mark Manson, author of New York Times Bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, puts it perfectly:
“Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given.”
Amen to that.
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