What are your bad habits? Whether you consciously acknowledge them or not, your vices reveal more about you than you may think. I'm talking about everything from breaking your diet, or spending more than you should to compulsively over-eating, chain-smoking, constantly putting yourself down and not standing up for yourself when you are being disrespected. But most importantly, I'm talking about the habits of toxic thinking that keep you from being happy.

Believe it or not, you can control what goes on in your mind. Those of you who find yourselves in any of the situations I outlined at the start of this article - all you over-eaters, and chain-smokers, I hear you. You're saying, "But if I can control it why do I feel so out of control?" Let me suggest that one of the reasons you may feel that we lack control over ourselves and our lives is because we tell ourselves so.

Toxic thoughts are like evil fairies, the more we believe in them the more real they get. Consider your internal dialogue and the possibility that what you are telling yourself on a daily basis is feeding your bad habits. No one said life was supposed to be easy, and yet many of us act as if this misconception were true. In fact, doing the right thing is often harder than doing the wrong thing. It is easier to let go than to discipline yourself; to smoke rather than to quit; to claim to be a victim rather than take action; to be a nobody rather than chase your dreams. All these things require hard work and self-discipline, something that will undeniably put you in an uncomfortable situation. And lets face it, above all human beings like to be comfortable - even if it means indulging in the bad habits that ruin our lives. This is where our toxic thoughts come in so handy. They actually work to justify our bad habits. When I tell myself that I'm not in control, I'm essentially giving myself permission to do whatever I want: Over-eat, cheat, steal. I'm not in control, there's something wrong with me and so I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing because I can't help it; change is impossible for someone like me. Well I'm here to tell you that this is bullshit and that you can change your habits just by becoming aware of that internal dialogue. Whether you are in a position to admit this to yourself or not, you are the absolute author of your life and you can choose the narrative. Where you go from here is up to you.

I have compiled a list of common toxic thoughts that you may find helpful. I hope some of these resonate in your heart:

"Life isn't supposed to be this difficult."
"I'm always the victim."
"Why does this always happen to me?"

You get fired, your partner dumps you, you get insulted by the cashier at the grocery store and all you can think of is how the world is conspiring against you. Never mind what you did to deserve getting fired, and never mind all the things you could have done but failed to do to save your relationship. And above all, never mind what the cashier herself might have gone through that day that made her so upset (hey, take it from me, it's not easy to be a cashier!). No, you are innocent and the world is against you. With this attitude you are actively taking the power away from yourself and putting it in the hands of others.

You interpret any negative occurrence as happening "to" you, automatically writing off the possibility that you had any control in the situation. Rather than seeing a difficult situation as a natural part of life and rising to the challenge, you fall into despair believing that there is something very wrong with you and with your life. Your life is "broken" as it were, and only God himself could possibly fix it. With this way of thinking you won't even bother to try and you will likely remain stuck in a rut for most of your life until you get lucky. And let me just mention that there is a very real possibility that with this attitude you will never "get lucky."

"Nothing is going according to plan."
"I'm out of control."

Sometimes things just happen to us. Random occurrences are a part of life and the best we can do is plan for the unexpected. And yet many of us waste years of our lives worrying about things we simply cannot control. If you can't change a person, accept that reality. When the unexpected happens, such as a loved one suddenly losing a job when the economy is in a slump, learn to identify what you can't control (i.e. the economy, lack of employment opportunities) and then deal with what you can control (go back to school, start a small business). Planning is good, but understand that you have to expect a certain degree of flexibility in life because no matter how much you try to stick to the plan life will take you where ever it pleases.

"Why don't they like me?"
"I hope they like me."
"Do I look stupid?"

How do you respond to others when they disagree with you, or offer honest criticism of your work? If you take these things as indicators of failure then you may be riddled with toxic thoughts associated with the desire to be liked by others. We all like to be liked, but it is important to understand that not everyone will like us. It is inevitable that along the road we will encounter people that dislike us, and often for no good reason at all. To seek the love and approval of everyone we meet is to set ourselves up for disappointment. You need to know your self-worth and appreciate yourself on your own. Why ask a stranger to determine the value of your dollar if you can set the value yourself? Your neighbors may think you're worth a few good pennies, but that doesn't make you any less the millionaire (spiritually speaking). What do they know anyway?

"I can't be happy until I'm perfect."
"There's so much competition, I have to be the best in order to win."
"I need to lose weight."

This last one is the most poisonous of all. It holds you in a mental prison where you are not allowed to make any mistakes - a single mis-step and you confine yourself to the psychological equivalent of flagellation. Also, it means that it becomes immensely difficult for you to complete anything you start since any minor flaw in the design will either have you telling yourself that you're just not good enough to pull this off, or that the whole project isn't worth finishing. With these toxic thoughts running through your head you will never be kind to yourself. You will stand in front of your mirror and hate yourself as passionately as any enemy; picking yourself apart as if you were a poorly constructed work of art. You can't imagine being happy until you've lost those extra pounds. The simple truth is that perfection does not exist, and is for that reason unattainable. The sad consequence of thinking that anything less than perfect isn't good enough, is that you will whole-heartedly believe that you will never be good enough.