toxic mental habits

20 Toxic Mental Habits to Quit

You have probably acquired toxic mental habits from your social environment or nurtured them by personal choice. Whether conscious or unconscious, bad mental habits are causing problems in your life.

In the beginning, it may seem difficult to change toxic mental habits because they are so ingrained in your life. When your brain is used to those toxic habits, it puts you at risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depressive disorders.

Why it’s Important to Quit Toxic Mental Habits

Mental habits can lead you to success or away from it in your relationships, career, self-perception, and general mental well-being.

Therefore, it’s important to be aware of them and adjust before they cause more damage to you or people you care about.

Your brain has neuroplasticity, meaning you can alter how it works and create new neural pathways for it through behaviour modification. Through conscious awareness of the mental habits holding you back, you can know exactly what to focus on changing.

By removing toxic mental habits from your life, you’ll be happier with yourself and be more successful in your pursuits in life. Consider this article a reference guide to identify destructive mental habits you need to eliminate from your daily life.

No matter how talented or experienced you are, if you fail to control your mind, you’ll not achieve your potential. To reach your next level of success you first need to believe you’re capable of great accomplishments. But some toxic mental habits in your life can make the process harder.

By adopting positive habits that promote your mental well-being, your brain creates new emotional pathways. By getting rid of toxic mental habits, you can rewire your cognitive functions thereby achieving happiness and a more positive mindset.

Toxic Mental Habits to Quit

It begins with self-awareness. Then, after self-awareness, change. Without conscious awareness that you have some bad mental habits sabotaging your life, you might continue asking yourself why nothing good is happening to you, why you keep making the wrong choices, and why your life is empty.

Thus, the following are common toxic mental habits that are ruining your inner peace. I hope you can identify a toxic mental habit that’s messing with your emotions and behaviour. Then, quit it.


1. Complaining

Complaining is a bad mental habit because it sustains a negative mindset. Unhealthy complaining is talking repetitively about things that don’t even deserve to be complained about.

People might seem blind to your pain, and you desire to make them understand. So, you complain about the same problems over and over again without taking action.

Furthermore, complaining is useless when all you do is talk about your grievances without pursuing the change you want.

Complaining is useless when all you do is talk about your grievances without pursuing the change you want.


Only complain if it leads to great ideas and progress. For instance, complaining in the face of injustice or exploitation so that necessary action is taken.

2. Regretting

Regretting is a toxic habit since it breeds a host of other negative mindsets like guilt and sadness. It is constantly desiring to live in a past which cannot be altered. How can you be happy when you continue to brood over the past mistakes?

Also, regret leads to self-hatred and such stuff is not cool for you. Bemoaning over an unchangeable past doesn’t help because it wastes mental energy that you can use to pursue important goals.

Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat the same. What’s done is done. It’s not in your power to undo most things, but you can do better the next time and behave in a way you won’t regret later.

Check out: Never Lose Self-kindness to Yourself

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is being intolerant to flaws or errors in yourself or others. The habit of expecting perfection in everything might seem like a beneficial quality. Indeed, perfection is required in most things like in your money-making ventures, especially where customer satisfaction is necessary for your success.

In interpersonal relationships, too much concern with flawlessness leads to frustrations and anger at people when they fail to meet your expectations and the fear of being judged by others.

As a result, perfectionism is associated with mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and depression.

The mental habit of perfectionism is an obsession that leads to momentary satisfaction because you live in a world full of imperfections. Strive to do your best, but learn to be a good loser.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Keep your standards and expectations of yourself high, but let not the basis be how you are seen by others.

4. Negative comparisons

Making negative comparisons creates envy and resentment toward the other person, hence, being jealous of what they have. No wonder it is a toxic mental habit.

If you think you can’t be your own person without comparing to another who seems to be worse than you, such that you hold thoughts like “at least I am better than her,” it reveals you need to work on your self-acceptance and sense of self-worth.

What if the person you are using as a self-esteem booster surpasses your low expectations and proves to be way better than you in other things?

Life entails being ready to win and lose since in life there’s always the chance of both extremes. A good level of competition, or comparing yourself to other people with the pure aim of learning from them can motivate you to become better than you were before.

Stop Thinking too much about How You Compare to Others

5. People-pleasing

If someone walks in on you doing something you enjoy, would you quickly try to hide and set it aside? If you have such a habit. Either you are a criminal committing a crime, or a people-pleaser.

People-pleasing is a toxic mental habit since, without the external approval or validation, you consider yourself worthless. You are not committing a crime, but you live in constant worry about how people will see you.

The people-pleasing habit becomes problematic when you stop being honest with yourself. You are always sacrificing your happiness to make those around you comfortable.

Although you desire to pursue something, you leave it because of what you think “people will think.” Therefore, you live in so much pretence to please others. And pretence is emotionally draining.

Throw away that mask and be authentic. If people don’t like you for who you are, they don’t deserve to control your life. They’ll only promote your toxic mental habits. Refuse to be controlled or influenced by other people’s preferences. Being your authentic self starts with self-acceptance.

Here is a guide for improving your self-acceptance.

6. Catastrophic thinking

Catastrophic thinking involves anticipating pain (emotional or physical) when it has not happened yet. Probably with a valid reason but often with no valid reason. You have extreme reactions to otherwise small problems that you could handle civilly because you are trying to avoid the perceived worst-case scenario.

For example, when you make a mistake you jump to the worst assumptions of the situation. When you call your loved one and they don’t pick up the phone, you think they are dead. Or if it’s your partner you conclude they are cheating on you without any valid reason other than the fact they missed your call.

Yes, horrible things may happen to you or your loved ones, but also remember good things occur. Keep hoping for the best and anticipating good results as you work toward achieving your goals.

the big dilemma book for emotional pain

7. Self-doubt

Self-doubt is a bad mental habit that creates fear. It impedes you from doing what needs to be done because you have no confidence in yourself. You may think you can’t do it or maybe you can’t achieve what your heart desires.

When you’d otherwise have won, you end up failing because you doubt your abilities and don’t believe in yourself. Self-doubt leads to a weak spirit and a quitting habit. Such that when you are willing to achieve something but you fear the process of attempting the said action.

To succeed, leave no room for self-doubt. Let the doubts be our motivation to do better, rather than the catalyst for quitting when things seem tough. If for a moment you believe you can’t do something, then push yourself to do it, and you’ll never doubt yourself again.

8. Negative self-talk

You talk to yourself all the time through the thoughts you allow in your mind. Sometimes the negative thoughts may overwhelm the positive. This is likely to happen if you are under stress or facing some tough circumstances in life.

When negative self-talk becomes a habit, it may cloud your judgment of yourself. Hence, it leads to poor self-perception, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.

Don’t dwell on your shortcomings. Instead, counter the negative self-talk by positive-self talk like “I forgive myself,” “I am worthy,” and “I can do better.” Choose to not to speak negatively about yourself, to yourself and to others.

Also read: Negative Mindset vs Positive Mindset

9. Excessive guilt

Have you ever done something you knew wasn’t right? How did you feel about it later? If you felt bad for doing the wrong thing, then that is called guilt. It’s normal and protective feeling that can prevent you from harming yourself or others.

However, excessive guilt is problematic to your mental health. Okay, so you made a very bad mistake that has hurt other people. It’s no reason to punish yourself mentally as long as you live.

Set matters right. Ask for forgiveness. Have genuine remorse for your action. And if it’s too bad that you can’t “set matters right” at least accept the consequences. You might have to face external repercussions from the society, but to find mental peace, forgive yourself and learn from the guilt to do better next time.

10. Fearing failure

Thinking you are a failure and being afraid to pursue your goals because of the loss you might have to endure. Failing is unpleasant, but not the end. So many people usually fail at several attempts. However, the choice to quit or to keep pressing on makes all the difference between people who succeed and those who don’t.

The fear of failure strengthens your weaknesses. Thus, the more afraid you are of failure the more you are likely to fail. You will create self-doubt and lack of self-confidence thwarting your ability to move forward.

Thus, the more afraid you are of failure the more you are likely to fail. You will create self-doubt and lack of self-confidence thwarting your ability to move forward.


Which category do you want to be in? You might fail, but you might win. Go on beyond your the limiting thoughts. Remember it’s the thought of failure that creates the fear. So for a moment, don’t think about the possible failure but instead focus on the possible reward.

Read this: Don’t Quit- An Inspirational Poem

11. Being overcritical

Overcritical people criticise others to feel better about themselves. It’s a bad mental habit that stems from individual self-perception since they feel they have to bring someone down in order to appear more powerful than the other person.

Slander, harmful gossip and judging people negatively based on lack of information, and mere conjectures, are toxic mental habit because they make your mind a pathetic place. There are constructive things you can train your mind to do instead. Fix a Negative Mindset with these Habits

Before you lash out to correct someone’s fault ask yourself this: am I criticising this person with good intention to benefit the other or am I criticising them to make them know I know more than them? Am I criticising them for my pleasure?

Read: Why Someone You Know is Overcritical

12. Rumination

Unhealthy rumination involves overthinking about an unpleasant past that’s already gone. No wonder rumination is a source of frustrations and anxiety. Focusing your thoughts an all the ways things should have been done causes regrets and gets you stuck in self-loathing.

Things do not always fit together nicely like the happy endings of fairytales. Staying stuck in the “what-if-i-had-done-differently” mentality increases your mental distress.

One way to stop the toxic mental habit of rumination is to pay attention to the present. Be observant, aware of yourself, and the experience of the moment. Only look back when you want to apply the lessons you learnt or to remind yourself how you have the capability to overcome challenges.

Read: How to Snap Out of the Habit of Unhealthy Rumination

13. Being easily offended

Getting used to a habit of taking offence with everybody and everyone eventually leads to other unpleasant habits. You are quick to judge others in negative light perhaps by aggressive behaviour or insulting statements.

Anger outbursts, being snappish and easily irritated isn’t a pleasant state of mind if made a continuous habit. People will be repulsed by you and probably direct the same kind of anger toward you.

Resorting to harsh criticism, violence and other aggressive behaviour doesn’t solve the situation. There are calmer ways to solve issues when you have a valid reason to be angry. Quarrelling with people may make you feel self-righteous and powerful temporarily. But communicating respectfully will have a long-lasting effect on your mental peace.

Read: How to Stop Anger Outbursts

14. Seeking instant gratification

It is in our nature to expect the thrill of quick results. There is pleasure in getting immediate gratification. Nevertheless, if being seeking instant gratification becomes a habit, it can cause detrimental effects to your life.

For instance, you may lose your job, relationship or success in your business if you seek instant gratification. Think of situations like waiting for profits to trickle in before spending money income from your startup, waiting for your spouse despite the availability of sexy people and being horny.

Instead of being quick to gratify your desires, always “think before you leap.” Train your mind to delay gratification for a while. Start with patiently waiting on a queue to be served instead of pushing others aside. Make delayed gratification a habit instead of seeking immediate gratification in all areas of your life. It’s about training your mind to wait and make rational decisions.

Read: Delayed Gratification can Save Your Life

15. Mental sluggishness

Mental sluggishness is being too lazy to do anything that needs some degree of thinking. It is being afraid to take on new challenges or to continue learning. Having no desire to think and resorting to Google at the slight mention of something you don’t know.

For the lack of mental exercises, you get stuck in a small worldview and narrow-mindedness. Thus, you judge the whole world based on your limited perspective. Your brain doesn’t form new neural paths that sustain cognitive ability.

Form a habit of engaging in mental exercises. Read a lot. Solve puzzles. Travel the world and explore. Be curious to find answers or embark on a quest for the truth.

Be curious to find answers or embark on a quest for the truth.


Before the technological advancement in the world today, the ancestors had stuff like riddles, oral storytelling, and saying to sharpen people’s minds. You can access such all these easily through the internet.

16. Blaming others

Playing the blame game continuously is a toxic mental habit because it gives you an illusion of perfection. Blaming people for your personal mistakes and misfortunes, or your irrational behaviour is in conflict with what your mind knows. How can you maintain inner peace thus?

Refusing responsibility for your actions and choices in life blocks you from making the necessary changes that would otherwise improve the quality of your life. Admitting your role when you are wrong creates opportunities for self-improvement.

You are the only one who controls your mental state. How people behave is their choice. How you behave is up to you. If people are to blame for certain unpleasant circumstances, then remember to deal with it instead of succumbing to rumination.

17. Procrastinating

Procrastination is putting off things you are supposed to do now for a later time. It is unavoidable at times. However, when procrastination is a constant habit it is problematic and unhealthy for your mind. It can take over your life leading to dissatisfaction because of failing to get anticipated results.

If your mind is so used to procrastination, it becomes disorganized with so much unfinished business to deal with. Hence, you lose sight of the ultimate goal by having to deal with a pile-up of things from the past.

Other effects of procrastination include being a chronic latecomer, inefficiency at school or work, and the negative effect on general success. Stop wasting time procrastinating things. Practise self-discipline and avoid accumulating issues that may cause undue mental stress later.

Read: 6 Ways to Start Improving the Quality of Your Life

18. Being ungrateful

Ingratitude or being ungrateful is the state of not valuing people or things surrounding you. It’s taking for granted what you have. Without gratitude, it’s hard to find contentment. You’ll be in constant pursuit for more and more, and when you get it still no appreciation for it.

What makes ingratitude a toxic mental habit? People who are never thankful re usually constantly annoyed, easily offended and irritable. These are not good states for your mind to dwell in all the time. It’s hard to be happy and at peace mentally if you are always ungrateful.

Appreciate your potential and strengths that you have. This is self-appreciation. also, say “thank you” to those who have shown you kindness or helped you in any way that’s made your life easier even for a fleeting moment. Grateful people are more resilient to tough times and have lower depression and anxiety.

Read: Benefits of Gratitude to Your Mental Health

19. Keeping a rigid mindset

Obstinacy is useful when you need to stand up for yourself or need to get things done. A rigid mindset makes you hard to deal with because you try to impose your views on others. You become a bad listener because you don’t want to give room for other people to express themselves in your presence.

At an individual level, having a fixed mindset hinders your ability to cope when life circumstances demand coping. You become adamant to adapt and change or find new ways to solve your problems. Even so, some situations demand assertiveness.

Assertiveness is the wisdom to recognize when to change our mindset and when to stand firm on your decision. It is neither saying yes to everything, nor saying no to everything, but rather sticking to the choices you have made. Be willing to learn, embrace change, and listen to new perspectives.

Read: Adapt and Embrace Change

20. Overtaxing your mind

Your mind can only take so much before it reaches a point where it seems unbearable until it bends toward insanity. Both the brain and mind need relaxation. Hence, not meeting this your need for mental rest has a negative effect on all areas of your life.

Thinking things over and over, not giving yourself a break, and doing many things at once are some ways of weighing down your mind. When the mind lacks rest, you lose mental sharpness. You’ll find it hard to concentrate on simple tasks, you’ll experience memory loss, and be less productive in your endeavours.

You need mental rest just as much as physical rest. The brain sends signals to your body when your mind needs rest. The most obvious way is through sleep. Don’t ignore the signals that your mind is overburdened. Give your mind a break.

You need mental rest just as much as physical rest. The brain sends signals to your body when your mind needs rest. The most obvious way is through sleep.


Read: How to Free Your Mind (Give Your Mind a Break.)


Habits make you who you are, and get you to where you want to be. You have the power to change toxic mental habits through conscious habits that are good for your mental health.

Your mind is the engine that drives mental processes and behaviour. Hence, it’s important to watch what you train your mind to do. It can either be beneficial or harmful as the bad mental habits discussed above.

Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.

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