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Top 13 Toxic Habits Everyone Should Quit To Build Emotional Resilience

toxic habit everyone should quit to build emotional resilience

Discover the top 13 toxic habit everyone should quit to build emotional resilience.

What Is Emotional Resilience?

Emotional resilience is the ability to control your emotions and manage thoughts by identifying irrational thoughts and replacing them with more rational ones, and the ability to behave in a positive manner no matter what the circumstances are. (*)

Related: How Resilience Works? Top 10 Powerful Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy During Tough Times

Top 13 Toxic Habits Everyone Should Quit To Build Emotional Resilience

Good habits are important.

But oftentimes, it’s the toxic habits that hold us back from reaching our potential.

No matter how many good habits you implement in your life, if you keep doing the toxic habits alongside the good ones, you’ll struggle to achieve your goals. In fact, toxic habits are like a heavyweight that slows you down and drains your energy.

Picture someone who’s exercising hard to lose weight while still eating junk food.

Although he’s putting in a good amount of exercise every week, he can’t help but wonder why he isn’t making much progress. It seems ridiculous, but we’re all guilty of such behavior.

We work hard to achieve our goals but we forget about the things that might sabotage our efforts.

Quitting the 13 habits explained below will help you build the emotional resilience you need to deal with life’s problems and reach your potential.

Related: How To Break Codependency Habits For Good? (+FREE Codependency Worksheets)

#1. Dwelling on The Past

Emotionally resilient people, while they realize how important it is to self-reflect and learn from their past mistakes, they also don’t dwell on their past.

They realize that the longer they dwell in the past, the more they lose in the present, and they know how self-destructive dwelling on the past can be.

So they make sure they don’t spend their time and energy wondering what their life would’ve turned out if they’d chosen a different path or repeatedly replay past memories in their minds.

They do so by following these steps:

1- They shift their thinking. Whenever they’re tempted the ruminate on their past, they actively shift their thoughts by scheduling time later to think about past events, like twenty minutes after dinner, and then they move on to something else.

They also distract their thoughts by thinking about other things such as planning for their future and setting goals for themselves.

2- They keep their experiences in perspective. They realize that when people recall a negative event, they tend to exaggerate and catastrophize it.

So, they actively work on keeping their experiences in perspective by focusing on the lesson there is to learn and grow through it. They also try to discard the emotions surrounding the experience and think more about the facts like who was there, what you wore, where you sat, what had been said.

Another thing they do is to tell the story differently. The same story can be told in numerous ways and still be true, and if their current version of the story is upsetting, they find a new way to look at it.

3- They make peace with their past. Emotionally resilient people realize that the amount of time spent grieving isn’t directly proportional to the amount of love you had for the person or thing you lost.

So, they work proactively on making peace with their past by recognizing the emotional and physical toll of dwelling on the past and its consequences in the long term.

And whether they’re hurt and angry because of themselves or someone else, they forgive radically. They realize that holding grudges isn’t going to help them.

By accepting their past and making peace with it, emotionally resilient people let go of any lingering anger, shame, or regret that might hold them from enjoying their present moment and reaching their goals.

Related: How To Make Peace With Your Past Mistakes Today and Never Repeat Them?

#2. Focusing on Things You Can’t Control

Emotionally resilient people acknowledge that they can’t fit all the circumstances and people in our lives, into the way they think they should be.

They also realize that trying to keep everything under their control is going to create so much anxiety and stress and is probably going to ruin their relationships with those they might try to control and change.

Instead, they choose to devote more of their time and energy toward the things they can control, which allows them to achieve more in life.

They achieve that by doing the following:

1- They’re aware that, as there are things within their control, there are many other things that aren’t. They acknowledge that while they can take someone out, they can’t control whether or not they have fun. And that while they can work hard, they can’t make their boss recognize their work.

2- They focus on solving problems that are within their control. They direct their energy and time toward the things they can control, all while bearing in mind that oftentimes, all they have control over is their attitude and behavior.

3- They influence others without trying to control them. Even if they don’t approve of the way people around them behave, they know better than to nag or demand. Instead, they would listen first before giving their opinion and sharing their concerns.

They realize that people can get defensive if they feel not listened to. They would also give genuine praise when the person makes some progress in changing.

Emotionally resilient people acknowledge that while having everything under control might feel good, there’s just no way they’ll even be able to always be in control. There’s so much outside of our control and it’s a waste of time and energy to believe otherwise.

They realize also that letting go of the need to control everything is going to make them happier and much more peaceful, they’ll have better relationships and they’ll experience more success as they’re busy focusing on the things they can control.

Read more: How To Let Go Of The Need To Control Everything And Start Enjoying Life

#3. Feeling The World Owe You Something

Emotionally resilient people don’t feel the world owes them anything.

They don’t think that just because they’ve been through some unfortunate experiences that they deserve to have good things in life. Nor do they believe that they’re entitled to success without putting in the time and effort, simply because it’s a birth-right.

They realize how complaining about what you don’t have and demanding it, isn’t going to help them in life and will likely make them feel bitter and victimized.

Instead, they take responsibility for their own lives and avoid any attitude of entitlement by doing the following:

1- They develop self-awareness of their sense of entitlement. Emotionally resilient people are aware of any underlying beliefs that the world owes them something. Such as believing that they deserve better than this or that good things should come their way.

They understand that they’re not the only ones with problems and that they aren’t more deserving than others who are putting in time and effort to earn what they’re earning.

2- They Focus more on improving. Instead of focusing on their importance, they focus on their effort and are always on the look for any room for improvement.

They gracefully accept criticism and if they judge it as valid they use it to improve themselves.

3- They work on decreasing their sense of entitlement. Emotionally resilient people realize that they’re less likely to develop an inflated self-perception when they acknowledge their flaws and weaknesses without using it as an excuse to demand more from the world.

They also decrease their sense of entitlement when they focus on others’ feelings and increase their own empathy without keeping scores of the good deeds they’re doing.

Emotionally resilient people realize that accepting that the world gives them without complaining and demanding what they think they’re owed, will increase their mental strength and help them achieve their goals.

Related: Top 10 Ways To Stop Wallowing In Self Pity

#4. Pitying and Feeling Sorry For Yourself

When dealing with stress, feeling sorry for yourself will put off working on finding a solution, and moving forward in life.

Emotionally resilient people never indulge in self-pity thinking.

They never complain about how bad their luck is. Instead, they engage themselves in dealing with their stress by doing the following:

1- They acknowledge any negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones.

2- They get active and try different activities they enjoy in a way that makes them feel good about themselves and their lives.

3- They practice gratitude every day. By acknowledging the good in their lives, it becomes easier for them to face the one negative situation at hand.

Instead of seeing themselves as a victim of their problems, emotionally resilient people think of it as an opportunity to grow as individuals and become more resilient.

This allows them to exchange self-pity with gratitude.

Related: Top 10 Gratitude Exercises To Practice Even When Depressed

#5. Giving Away Your Power

You give others power to control the way you feel, think, and behave when you spend so much time complaining about them, and hold grudges against them, or when you change your goals and decisions based on what they want you to do, or even when a criticism offends you regardless of whether or not it was accurate.

When you give away your power, it becomes hard for you to feel good about yourself without depending on others and how well things in your life go.

You let others define your self-worth and you start feeling helpless as you feel you’ve no control over your choices in life in general.

You might grow resentful towards those who are deciding for you or taking much of your time and energy, which in order is bound to ruin your relationships.

Emotionally resilient people are always aware of ways they might be giving away their powers and make necessary adjustments.

They reclaim back their power by doing the following:

1- They use a language that acknowledges their choice in everything they do. They keep in mind that whatever they’re doing is their choice and has consequences. Instead of saying “I have to go to work tomorrow”, they recognize that going to work is a choice. Not showing up might have consequences, they might not get paid, and they might get fired altogether. But in the end, it’s a choice.

2- They set healthy emotional and physical boundaries with others. They don’t let someone guilt them into doing something they don’t want to do.

3- They take full responsibility for the way they choose to think, feel, and behave.

4- They examine feedback and criticism before jumping to conclusions and responding back. They look for evidence of how accurate the feedback is. If it’s justified, then it’s a chance for them to change and improve themselves.

5- They choose to forgive others regardless of whether or not they’re seeking their forgiveness. Forgiveness will not only give them peace of mind but also help improve their mental and physical health by lowering their stress level.

You retain your power when you’re confident in who you are and the decisions and choices you make, regardless of what other people around you think of do.

Related: Top 25 Tips On How To Set Boundaries In A Toxic Relationship? (+FREE Worksheets PDF)

#6. Giving Up After The First Failure

Emotionally resilient people consider failure as a stepping stone to success.

They know that they can handle setbacks.

They also don’t worry about how others perceive their failure, they believe that failing doesn’t decrease their self-worth, nor does it mean that they’re not good enough or smart enough.

Especially, they don’t believe that people who succeeded were born with a God-given gift for success. They believe in perseverance, so they’re willing to try as much as it takes for them to succeed.

To bounce back after failure, they do the following:

1- They identify any self-limiting beliefs about failure. Emotionally resilient people don’t allow failure to make them doubt themselves and their ability to succeed.

They know that deliberate practice can be more important than natural talent and that perseverance is a more accurate predictor of success than someone’s IQ.

2- They change the way they view failure. They see setbacks as an opportunity to learn and do better next time.

They know that everyone has his own shortcomings and that they can only grow as individuals through learning.

3- They face their fears. They feel the fear and do it anyway. They realize that their fear of failure stems from irrational thoughts and that the best way to feel less scared, is to do the very thing they’re fearing.

They also know that, whatever the outcome, they can handle it.

4- They move forward after failure. They, spend some time examining what went wrong the first time and work on developing a better plan.

Emotionally resilient people realize that failure can be a good opportunity to challenge themselves and become stronger.

Related: Best 9 Tips On How To Stop Avoidance Coping (+FREE Worksheets PDF)

 #7. Making The Same Mistake Over And Over

Emotionally resilient people don’t deny or hide their mistakes.

Rather they face it, examine it, and learn their lesson so they won’t repeat it in the future. Especially, they’re not afraid to tolerate whatever discomfort and pain that might come from having to find new ways to do things, so they won’t get back to their old behavioral pattern.

Emotionally resilient people realize that facing their mistakes and learning from them is their way to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

They also realize that unless they actively work on solving the problem, they’re going to repeat the same mistakes.

So to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over, emotionally resilient people do the following:

1- They examine their mistakes. They know that the best way to avoid repeating mistakes is to learn from them, and that can only be done through examining these mistakes.

They set any negative feelings aside and start looking for reasons why it went wrong and figure out what could be done differently next time.

2- They create a strategy. After examining their mistakes, they set a plan of action to help them avoid falling into the same trap. So they replace their old habit with a good one, and they stay on the lookout for any signs they might give in to their old behavioral pattern.

They also hold themselves accountable to stay on track and keep their progress, whether it was with the help of a friend or a family member or even by using a calendar to chart their progress.

3- They practice self-discipline. They know that change can only be maintained through self-discipline, so they resist temptations and start tolerating any discomfort that results from the change.

They know that if they give in once, they’ll fall back, so they control themselves. They might also resort to imposing restrictions on themselves. If they know they’re likely to spend so much time scrolling on social media, they might leave their phone in another room.

They also keep reminding themselves of all the reasons why they don’t want to repeat the same mistake by carrying a list stating all these reasons.

Emotionally resilient people realize that learning from their mistakes is their way to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential, and unless they work actively on learning the lesson, they’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.

Related: Top 21 Healing Journal Prompts To Support Your Healing Journey

#8. Not Taking Calculated Risks

Emotionally resilient people realize that taking risks is inevitable and essential for our growth, whether they were physical, emotional, social, or financial to name a few.

They don’t allow their fear to cloud their logic and hold them from taking the risk.

Instead, they work on managing their fear of risk-taking by doing the following:

1- They balance emotion with logic. They don’t make their final decision based on their anxiety level.

They know that the more emotional one is, the less rational his thoughts will be. So they rationalize their thoughts by looking into the facts.

2- They calculate the risk. The level of risk in any given situation is unique to each person.

So, to calculate their level of risk, emotionally resilient people define the potential risks of every situation and measure these risks if possible such as the case of the risk of losing the invested money.

They also consider the benefits of taking the risk and how close it’ll bring them to their goal.

3- They minimize the risk. After determining the worst-case scenario of taking the risk, they look for ways to minimize the consequences and define the necessary steps to take or an alternative strategy in some cases.

4- They practice taking risks. They know that the best way to overcome their anxiety of risk-taking is by practicing taking more risks.

The more risks they’ll take, the more comfortable they’ll become at doing it.

Related: How Confident Am I Quiz (+Best 13 Practical Tools To Feel More Confident)

#9. Fearing Change

Emotionally resilient people are aware of the discomfort a change might bring and are willing to tolerate it for the greater good.

They know that the alternative would be risking staying the same while the world is moving forward. They realize that the longer they wait before making the change, the harder it’s going to get.

So they take action now and prepare to make changes including the following:

1- They Evaluate how ready they are for the change with an open mind. They make a list of potential pros and cons of making a change as well as these of staying the same.

2- They work hard to align their emotions and thoughts with the desired change. They don’t allow their emotions to dictate whether or not to change without considering the logical aspects of making a change.

3- They set realistic goals for themselves to achieve within realistic time frames. They divide the change into smaller goals with clear action steps and focus on them one at a time.

4- They anticipate potential challenges that might interfere with their progress. They make a plan for how they’ll respond to any potential obstacles that might arise.

5- They start behaving like the person they want to become. They are proactive about behaving like the person they want to become. If they want to become healthier, they start behaving like a healthy person. They start following a healthy diet and engage in more physical activity.

Related: Lack Of Self Awareness: 5 Signs & 5 Tips On How To Increase Self-Awareness

#10. Expecting immediate results

Emotionally resilient people don’t expect immediate results.

They acknowledge that even though the world is becoming increasingly fast-paced, they can’t have everything they want instantly.

So if they don’t see immediate results when undertaking any change or goal, they don’t give up and keep going.

To help them do that, they follow these strategies:

1- They create more realistic expectations. Emotionally resilient people realize that unrealistic expectations can set them up to fail. So they make sure they don’t overestimate how easy the change is going to be. They also avoid placing a definite timeline for their goals.

They know that while many people claim that establishing a good habit or breaking a bad habit takes about 21 days, reality can be different, it might take much longer than that.

2- They acknowledge that progress isn’t always obvious. They keep in mind that things can get worse before they can get better.

So they keep their sight on their long-term goal and find better ways to measure their progress by determining the results that they can realistically expect within one week, one month, and one year.

3- They practice delaying gratification. They know that seeking instant gratification can prevent them from reaching their goals.

So in order to avoid that, they keep their focus on their end goal to motivate themselves and conceive a plan to avoid any potential temptations. And any negative feelings of impatience and frustration that might arise, they learn how to deal with it in a healthy way.

They also make sure they celebrate each milestone toward their end goal.

Emotionally resilient people understand that success doesn’t happen overnight and that if you want to reach your full potential, you’ll need to set realistic expectations.

Related: Healing Isn’t Linear: What Does It Mean?

#11. Resenting Other People’s Success

Emotionally resilient people don’t resent other people’s success.

They realize that while occasional jealousy is normal, resentment, on the other hand, isn’t.

They acknowledge that feelings of resentment usually stem from their deep-rooted insecurities, and that’s what they need to address. They also understand how negative resentment can affect their life by wasting so much of their time and energy that otherwise could be devoted to their own goals and success.

They also know that they can never have healthy, nurturing relationships based on resentment.

To avoid resenting others’ success, they do the following:

1- They don’t compare themselves to others. They are able to dodge resentful thoughts by avoiding comparing themselves to others.

Instead, they compare themselves today, to who they were before and measure their growth as individuals.

2- They don’t focus on their own weaknesses nor do they magnify others’ strengths. Emotionally resilient people choose to focus on their own strengths and abilities rather than focusing on what they don’t have or can’t do.

At the same time, they never magnify others’ strengths. They realize that others too have their own insecurities and problems.

3- They never belittle others’ accomplishments. They don’t resort to insulting others’ success to justify their own shortcomings. They don’t try to decide whether or not they deserve their success either.

4- They focus on cooperation rather than competition. They surround themselves with successful people to learn from them and not to compete with them.

5- They create their own definition of success. They keep a clear definition of their success and live according to it. They know that money is only one definition out of many and isn’t the only meter for success.

Whether it was building their family, giving back to the community through their skills and expertise… they make sure they’re doing what makes them feel good about themselves the most.

So whenever they find themselves tempted to resent someone else’s success, they remind themselves that they don’t need to live according to others’ definitions of success.

6- They practice celebrating others’ accomplishments. They take every opportunity to feel genuinely happy for someone else’s accomplishments and congratulate them.

It’s easy to feel resentful when you’re struggling in life while those around you are doing well.

Resisting feelings of resentment and celebrating others’ success takes practice and persistence, but it makes you emotionally more resilient.

Related: Top 15 Journal Prompts For Jealousy

#12. Striving to Please Everyone

Emotionally resilient people don’t feel responsible for how other people feel.

They don’t find themselves going to great lengths to avoid conflicts and disagreement, which means they don’t hesitate to express a contrary point of view and they’re not afraid to say NO when they don’t want to do something.

They realize that their self-worth doesn’t stem from others’ approval and that the best way to maintain healthy relationships is by setting healthy boundaries so no one will take advantage of the other person and the relationship would be based on honesty and mutual respect.

So they make sure that whatever they do, they don’t do it just to please others. To achieve that, they do the following:

1- They determine who they want to please. They realize that in order for them to achieve their goals, they’ll need to choose their own path, including the things they should spend their time and energy on.

All while bearing in mind that pleasing people is really a waste of time and energy since no one can people everyone around them.

2- They identify their values and behave according to them. They have a clear definition of their top values in life and they make sure that pleasing people isn’t one of them.

More importantly, they know that leading a fulfilling life is achieved when they’re living in line with their beliefs and values.

3- They take time before saying yes or no to someone’s request. Before saying yes or no to someone’s request, They determine whether or not it’s something they want to do and what will they gain from doing it, whether it was an opportunity to learn something and grow or a simple act of kindness.

They also identify the way they’ll feel if they did it. They make sure that whatever they do, they do it willingly, so they won’t end up resentful and feeling taken advantage of.

4- They learn to be more assertive. They aren’t afraid to ask for something they want to speak up for themselves. They know that one can be assertive while remaining polite and respectful.

Emotionally resilient people realize that accepting that they can’t please everyone will make them stronger by increasing their self-confidence in making the right choices that are aligned with their values.

They also realize how avoiding doing things to just please others is going to allow them to have time and energy to devote to achieving their goals and leading a fulfilling life.

Related: People Pleaser Quiz (+Top 21 Proven Ways to Stop People Pleasing)

#13. Avoiding Spending Time Alone

Emotionally resilient people don’t fear alone time.

Even though spending time alone has developed negative associations in modern society such as being confused with loneliness or being considered unproductive, they understand that pausing for a few minutes every day and spending some quiet time is essential to process their day’s events and plan for their future.

They also use alone time to improve their mental health and recharge for the next day’s challenges.

To get comfortable spending time alone, emotionally resilient people do the following:

1- They practice tolerating silence. Instead of bombarding themselves with constant noise in order to drown out their thought and avoid their problems, emotionally resilient people make sure they spend more time in silence by shutting down background noise and writing in a journal.

They acknowledge that writing down their thoughts helps them learn from their experiences and avoid repeating past mistakes. It also helps them regularly check in on their feelings and detect any signs that things aren’t going well.

2- They incorporate more quiet time. Emotionally resilient people make sure that when they’re not physically connected to others, they’re not also connected virtually.

So they turn off the TV or the radio when they’re not watching or listening, they also leave their phone in another room when they’re taking a break.

3- They go on a date with themselves. They realize that just as it is important to spend quality time with your loved ones, it’s imperative to spend quality time alone.

So they do they make sure they take themselves for a date at least once every month.

Whether it was seeing a moving, or simply relaxing at the spa, they make sure they do the things they enjoy.

4- They meditate. Meditation is starting to gain more mainstream acceptance as people are starting to acknowledge its benefits on their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Emotionally resilient people make sure they spend a few minutes every day meditating to help them calm their minds and gain more clarity.

They realize that spending time alone isn’t selfish or a waste of time.

They’re not afraid to schedule time alone to process their thoughts and learn from their experiences. They know that solitude can be a powerful tool to boost their mental strength.

Related: The Process Of Turning Inward In 6 Simple Steps (Turn FOMO Into JOMO)


Portions of this article were adapted from the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, © 2013 by Amy Morin. All rights reserved.

By Hadiah

Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.

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