These seven harmful attitudes take control in moments of negativity. If we don't learn to handle them, who knows what damage they might cause.
Everybody experiences negative thoughts from time to time. We must accept that it can happen to any one of us at any moment, no matter what our background or current situation is. Yet how we manage these negative attitudes varies for each and every person on a very individual level, and can mean the difference between coping with these harmful attitudes, or not. It could mean the difference between living with confidence and living in fear, self-improvement versus self-destruction, or hope as opposed to despair.
It is our own coping strategies that are paramount to our own wellbeing when dealing with these innate emotional defences.
Dominant negative attitudes, also known as ‘chief features’, tend to be the negative tendencies of our personalities that take hold of us while under uncertain, stressed or anxious environments. They are unlike general personality traits which can be applied to various emotional situations in either a positive or negative way.
Chief features are negative by nature, and are natural emotional defence mechanisms that have developed throughout our lives in order to protect our ego from hurt. They are the emotional shields we put up when the going gets tough.
However, while these natural defences were created in an effort to protect us, they almost act like an overbearing parent... They are damaging us by overprotecting us.
If you’re anything like me, hearing this will be setting off a million tiny, little alarm bells in your mind. You might have noticed it in one of your friends or at some level in yourself, but these chief features surface in a particular way – as major character flaws. And not everyone is always aware they exist.
Here is a list of the seven most common and damaging chief features a person can have, why we have them, and what changes we can make to stop them from harming your life.
Do you make a habit of undervaluing yourself? Are you excessively modest and find it difficult to take a compliment? Then you are self-depreciating. While this chief feature is the opposite to arrogance, self-depreciating behaviours can be just as harmful to others, as well as yourself. When we self-depreciate, we try to actively distort others’ perceptions of ourselves in an attempt to avoid people hurting our self-esteem.
If we can pre-emptively hurt ourselves, why should we be bothered if someone else does it too?
When written down like that, our otherwise rational foundation for this behaviour starts to sound absurd. We are letting our fears of inadequacy control our own self-concept as well as the way we are viewed by others. This fear may lead to feeling ashamed of oneself, or even depression.
Believe in yourself
Every positive change needs to start with observation. In order to stop this negative behaviour, we must first observe our self-deprecating thoughts and acknowledge that we do it. Try to catch yourself in action. Do you criticise yourself to others? | Do you have negative thoughts like “I’m useless/worthless”?
And when you do, try to monitor and censor your responses. Use positive language instead of negative. Make lists of all your positive attributes, and most importantly – accept that compliment!
Self-destructive behaviours can manifest in various different ways. Though the most extreme and literal form is suicide, most other forms tend to be far more subtle, such as self-defeating or counter-productive behaviours – intentionally or inadvertently. The development of self-destructive behaviour stems from the belief that we are losing control, and as a chief feature our self-destructive behaviour acts to protect us from this loss by doing to ourselves what we fear the most.
Stop pushing the button
Again, the best way to cope and change self-destructive behaviour is to become aware of them in the first place. Think about certain behaviours in your life that have put you in precarious situations, emotionally, physically and mentally. Learn to think before you act and understand the consequences of your actions. Will they harm you in the near future or long run? Is this really what you want to do? Once you have taken this step, then try to dig a little deeper. Where does this fear of losing control come from and is it really so bad? Learn to embrace the possible, not cower away from it.
Maybe you know someone like this, or have been told that you have acted like this in the past. Typically, someone with a martyr complex tends to exaggerate their own suffering and creates a projected image of themselves as the victim. They feel the whole world on their shoulders and often have a sense of worthlessness.
Stop being the victim
We’ve all felt victimised at one point or another, but sometimes this woeful image can be portrayed in our minds a little too much. In order to amend this chief feature we must first acknowledge that we are taking part in this vicious cycle of victimisation against ourselves. Remember, acknowledgment is the first step to change. From here, we must learn not to associate blame and look for the right in every situation and just let things be. And finally, we must also learn to see the good in every situation. From seeing the positive in every situation, our feelings of suffering will diminish.
Stubbornness is often caused by our resistance to change. While change can be difficult, we must learn to embrace it or face the price of life moving on without us. If you have a stubborn personality you find it difficult to embrace or be around new situations and a as consequence your views may stay the same and never develop, and your relationships over time my sour.
Learning to be flexible
One of the best ways to overcome a stubborn attitude is to face your resolute ideals head on. Why do you have these values, is there really no leeway? By having a stubborn attitude you are devaluing other peoples’ life experiences and viewpoints. Take note of other people’s opinions and try to understand their logic. If you manage this then try to dig a little deeper as to why you have your own opinions. Why are you resisting change, what are you afraid of? Through self-inquiry we can unlock the stubbornness of our own mind; and by unlocking minds we can move forward and accept.
Give me a chocolate bar to share and this ugly monster always rears its ugly, negative head. Greed is one of the darkest character flaws a person can have, but it also one of the most common. Stemming from one’s fear of lacking anything, this emotional guard can often override its initial function of protecting us from loss, and turn us into insatiable fiends.
Due to this constant fear of lack, people with this personality type tend to overcompensate in order to satisfy their ‘need’. But this greed, if not handled, can lead to loss on a far more personal and emotional level. We all know someone we’ve lost to greed.
How to need less
Greed is that one extra biscuit you know you shouldn’t have. The temptation is always there. But by controlling our greed, we can also control our life and get it back on track. Understanding that greed comes from a need, we must look deep inside ourselves and discover what we are trying to compensate for. Are you greedy for success, but in the process left everyone you loved behind you? Then try to understand the root cause. Are you trying to gain approval that you never received? Will this success actually replace that feeling? Sometimes we try to compensate one thing for another. But it isn’t really the same. Acknowledge that you may be wanting something a little too much and try to discover why you do and if you need to.
Arrogance stems from a fear of vulnerability. As with someone with a self-deprecating personality, an arrogant personality relies on the manipulation of others’ opinions in order to shield their self-esteem from harm. Arrogance is a defence mechanism working in overdrive. If your chief feature is that of arrogance, you cannot let others see the ‘real’ you, the ordinary, imperfect you. This idea scares you.
Embrace the imperfect you
We all have our character flaws. But if you have an arrogant personality you may not be fully aware that you have any. The best way to see if you do is to do some deep introspection. Take note of areas you may feel insecure. Do you over-compensate these aspects of yourself to others? Do you lie about them? If you do, then it is time to rein it in. Instead of pretending to be better than you are, try to actively become better. Stop yourself from lying or over-compensating in front of others. Be honest. But first be honest with yourself. Accept who you are. And then, in time, you will be honest with others and be overall happier with the person you are portraying.
Are you always looking at your watch, stomping your feet impatiently. Looks like you might just have a strong fear of missing out on things. Having an impatient personality can be highly detrimental to personal development as well as our relationships with others. You see, impatience is almost like anger, and it is our minds way of responding to situations that feel threatening to the type of situation and direction you want to be headed in. While this can be a good thing that can warn us if a situation is going sour, if you let it dictate your every step in life then your impatience might just bite you back. People will start getting impatient with you. And more importantly, you’ll start feeling more threatened and impatient with every situation you’re in. Not good.
If you believe that impatience is starting to dictate your life, then you’ve already made the first step towards change. From here we can observe when we are becoming impatient and then quickly stop ourselves from reacting impatiently in a situation. Do you often exaggerate the importance of a situation in order to hurry it up? Do you rush through things to see the end result? Then, ask yourself why you need to get through these situations in a rush. Learn to enjoy the journey, embrace the process and steps that take you there. You’re not going to be missing out on things; you’re just learning to enjoy the build up to them more.
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