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How (Not) to Wreck Your Life

Not a day goes by when Dr. Joy Browne, noted psychologist, author and host of a nationally syndicated talk show, doesn’t hear about the terrible things that happen in people’s lives -- and after all these years, she has noticed that all too commonly, they have their own selves to blame. Here is her analysis of the seven most common self-sabotaging behaviors that lead people to wreck their own lives.

Blaming someone for a problem keeps you stuck in the past and weakens your power over the situation. Accepting responsibility allows you to figure out what happened -- and how not to have it happen again.

Turning challenges into obstacles. Living through a job loss or family crisis is no picnic -- but pessimistic thinking deters positive action. A "woe is me" attitude is a variation on this trap.

Not listening to others can wreck relationships and lock you into an unhelpful perspective. Some people are so defensive or egotistical that they reject any input -- even when it concerns such important issues as keeping a job or finding a new one.

Better: Genuinely listen to what other people have to say, and then take the time to think about it. If the shoe fits, wear it. Otherwise, throw it away.

Using absolutes, such as "never" and "always." They lock in your thinking and don’t endear you to other people by completely stifling open, honest communication.

Not communicating needs and feelings. Dr. Joy doesn’t believe in what she calls the Soul-Mate School of Life. ("If you really loved me, you would know what I want.") Speak up!

Going for the jugular. Winning isn’t everything, especially over the long term. Kindness and generosity make for truly fulfilling lives.

Trying to be in control of all situations at all times. No one can do everything... and "everything" can’t be your top priority.

Joy Browne, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in New York City. Her internationally syndicated call-in radio show, The Dr. Joy Browne Show, is the longest-running of its kind (


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