Habits That Harm Your Emotional Health

    Scientists and doctors describe emotional health as how well you control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

    People with good emotional health are aware of their feelings, both positive and negative, and know how to deal effectively with them. Your habits can help or hurt your emotional health by creating a positive or negative mindset and affecting your actions.

    Habits develop over time to the point where you aren’t aware you do them. They become automatic and part of your personality. These habits can harm emotional health:

    • Negative Self-Talk
    • Negative Surroundings
    • Perfectionism

    Negative Self-Talk

    Self-talk is your beliefs about yourself and your abilities. It’s the quiet voice inside of you telling you that you can or can’t accomplish something. Negative self-talk can become an internal repetition of reasons you think you can’t succeed.

    Negative self-talk comes from previous failures and from listening to the poor opinions other people have about you.

    Everyone fails sometimes, but when you accept those failures as the best you can do and don’t work toward improving yourself, doubts about your abilities become negative self-talk. Thoughts and emotions like, “I can’t do that,” and “I’m not good enough for that” are messages of negative self-talk.

    Unfortunately, some people try to make themselves feel better by speaking badly about others.

    Constructive criticism helps you improve, but negative comments from others may be incorporated into your self-talk. If you listen to the negative comments others make about you, you may begin to believe them yourself.

    Negative self-talk harms your emotional health in multiple ways. It lowers your self-esteem and makes you less likely to try something new that you might succeed in achieving.

    These missed opportunities reinforce your negative beliefs and add to your negative self-talk. Letting negative self-talk stop you from reaching your goals isn’t a healthy, effective way to deal with your emotions or thoughts.

    Negative Surroundings

    A positive mindset is based on optimism. To grow as a person and achieve more in life, you need to have a positive mindset when faced with life’s challenges. Your mindset is supported by your surroundings.

    If your surroundings are negative, you won’t get the reinforcement you need to become and stay positive.

    Schools, businesses, and organizations adopt mascots, mission statements, and mottos to create positive surroundings. You need positive surroundings in your daily life too. Negative influences can develop into a habit that harms your emotional health.

    Imagine your house or apartment has bare walls and is full of clutter and unfinished projects. Now imagine your living space full of cherished mementos, pictures of fun activities, and motivational and inspirational posters.

    Living in the first space doesn’t support your emotional health because it doesn’t contain anything positive for you to reflect on and only reminds you of your failures to complete your goals. If living in this type of space has become a habit, you are harming your emotional health.

    The people you spend time with and the books, movies, and music you use for entertainment may also be part of a habit of negative surroundings.

    Do your friends spend all their time gossiping instead of planning for the future? Do you look for entertainment from media about growing and being a better person? Changing your habits of where and how you spend your time affects your emotional health.


    Perfectionism is a habit that can affect your emotional health through stress and unintended consequences.

    Of course, everyone wants things to work out the best way possible, but expecting or demanding perfectionism in every situation isn’t realistic or healthy. Perfectionism becomes a habit when you can’t accept sincere efforts or partial rewards from yourself or others.

    Striving to do better is a worthwhile goal. However, expecting yourself to be perfect the first time you try something only hurts your emotional health.

    When your efforts help you achieve a goal, the fact that you aren’t perfect at something along the way doesn’t matter. Too many people add stress and worry to their lives by trying to be perfect.

    Expecting perfection from others may have unintended consequences. Although you may encourage someone to do well, expecting them to be perfect can ruin your relationship with them.

    Other people often view perfectionists as unsympathetic, rude, or mean. You can support your emotional health with help from others. If you let your perfectionism push people away, you lose the support you need.

    Psychologists have shown that your habits affect your emotional health and mindset. Negative self-talk, negative surroundings, and perfectionism are habits or avoid or change to improve your emotional health and succeed in life.

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