Everyone has bad days, but sometimes you can find those bad days piling up. You can also find yourself falling into bad habits that make everything harder to deal with, hold you back, and bring you down. If you feel down and blue all the time, talk to your parents, or another adult you trust. You can also start to help yourself by taking a look at your mental habits, and working to get rid of these five in particular.

  • Self-Doubt: “I don’t think I can do that.” Self-doubt is a bad mental habit that can prevent you from reaching your full potential in school and in life. You second-guess and sabotage yourself when this habit takes root, and after a while it becomes second nature. It can hit your grades, you social life, and hobble you when you need to get off to a good start. To root this bad habit out, you have to be mindful and take active steps to build your self-confidence.
  • Procrastination: “I can do that tomorrow.” There are a lot of reasons that people procrastinate, but the effect is that you end up with much more to do in the way of schoolwork and chores and much less time to do it in. Take practical steps to disrupt your particular set of behavior patterns.
  • Negative Thinking: “I’m such a loser.” This one is tough. Negative thinking makes you feel awful about yourself. It hurts. It’s even worse because it’s you hurting yourself. It takes a lot to change, and to do that you need to think about your reasons for negative thinking, and work on countering this vicious kind of self-sabotage.
  • Criticizing Other People: “____ is such a _____.” This is hard for me to say, but many times when someone is bashing others by lashing out with negativity, it’s painfully obvious that they are building themselves up by tearing someone else down. Critique has a valid place, a constructive place, but when you are bringing nothing but negativity, you need to understand that drives people away from you.
  • Fear of Failure: “If I can’t do that, I’d just be so ashamed.” When you were a baby, you had to learn to walk. Falling can be defined as a failure at walking, but it’s an essential part of learning to walk. We’re afraid that failing at something makes us failures, but that is wrong. Failing at something makes us learners. You have to emulate that baby’s bravery. You fall, sometimes you cry about it, but you get up and keep trying. The only way to start to become good at something is to first fail at something – like walking.

You can do it! Habits are hard to break, and making a new attitude into a habit can take a long time, too. When eliminating these habits in particular, you’ll find that making the changes you want to make is easier. Think of this as a mental form of Tae Kwon Do – you’re starting out as a white belt, and have to work your way up to black belt. Be realistic about your goals and give yourself a reward for meeting them.