The 7 [thinking] habits of really unhappy people July 29, 2014 – Posted in: Confidence, Personal Development – Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In tribute to the late Stephen R Covey and his brilliant book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which, if you haven’t read I’d really recommend you do), I thought it would be interesting to look at the opposite. So here, from my own (and my clients’ experiences) is my list of the 7 Beliefs (“Thinking Habits”) sure to keep you unfulfilled, unhappy and unsuccessful…

1. “Worrying affects outcomes.”
So many people believe that they are affecting the outcome of a situation by worrying about it. I know that I used to believe that if I stopped worrying about my first daughter when she was a baby (she’s ten now) that I would somehow be giving permission for something awful to happen to her. I realise now that this was utter madness but I’m not alone. Some people wear their concern like a badge of honour – a way to prove how much they love and care about a person or a situation. But worrying changes nothing – all it does is keep you locked in a negative thought cycle. Worrying is the most fruitless activity on the planet – drop it if you can and take action instead (even if that action is to decide to do nothing or accept a situation).

2. “I can’t cope.”
This is a lie – a total and utter lie. If one person has coped with something then so can you! You might not like what life throws your way but believing you can’t cope causes you to live in fear of something that hasn’t even happened yet. You can cope and you will cope. You might even thrive.

3. “It matters what other people think of me.”
My blog last week was all about authenticity and how crucial this is to a happy life. This means dropping your concern over what other people think and starting to listen to that quiet voice deep within you. Other people will love you for who you are and if they don’t then why would you want them in your life anyway…?

4. “I should fight for what I want.”
I was told a few years ago to ‘hold stuff lightly’ and my goodness it means for a happy life! I don’t mean that I don’t value my relationships, possessions, health etc (of course I do!) but it does mean that if these things change I can accept it more easily knowing that something new is likely en route into my life. So, I try (sometimes more successfully than others) not to fight for what I want but to do my best and accept what comes back to me.

5. “My past defines me.”
This may sounds harsh but your past only defines you if you believe it does. You CAN change! I know you can because the people I work with are changing all the time! If you grew up lonely that doesn’t mean you have to accept loneliness today. You can choose to work through the issues you have around this area and take steps towards a different future. I’m not saying it’s easy but your past really doesn’t have to define you.

6. “Mistakes are bad.”
I say to my children all the time that mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t absorb the lesson. Otherwise they are learning opportunities. I need to remember this myself. Mistakes can cause embarrassment, shame and awkwardness but really they are just a mark of our humanness. Believing mistakes are bad is the mistake!

7. “They don’t deserve my forgiveness!”
If someone has really wronged you it can be excruciatingly hard to forgive them and I’m not saying you have to at all. We all need time to feel appropriate anger and to process events that caused us pain. But, if you find yourself repeatedly going over and over your feelings of anger towards someone then the best thing you can do FOR YOURSELF is to unhook from it. This does not mean advocating what that person did or allowing them back into your life. It means making a decision to stop giving them and what they did airtime in your thoughts. Someone once said that unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die…


This column originally appeared in my Life Column for The Bath Magazine.

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