Most of us have a volatile, impulsive inner child who comes out when we’re under pressure or upset. Stop already! Here’s how to remedy your own childish behaviour…
Behaviour type: cry baby
What you do: someone’s always sabotaging your day. Whether it’s your colleague jamming the copy machine again, or your BF leaving the toilet seat up again, or your BFF not returning your favourite clutch again, nothing anyone does or says is ever quite right – there’s always something to bitch about.
What it means: you risk losing the people around you because no one wants the company of a constant whiner. You bring them down, and create a negative atmosphere at home and at work that can become destructive.
How to deal: ‘Ask someone who cares about you what they think are your best and worst characteristics,’ says Durban psychologist Alison Rielly. ‘Ask them to be honest yet gentle. Be aware that you may feel like defending or explaining yourself to them. Take time to digest what you’ve heard before you justify your behaviour (to yourself or to them). If you think there may be some truth to what you’ve been told, do something about it – such as seeking professional help if you can’t do this on your own.’
Behaviour type: sibling rivalry
What you do: you have to be better dressed, better read, better paid, better everything than your friends. And you have to have a better boyfriend, even if you don’t really like him – or have to steal him from one of them.
What it means: some people may be impressed with you, but many more will be dying for you to take a fall. No one likes a know-it-all or a have-it-all, and those who put up with you are not worth knowing. The rest will avoid you, or watch their back when they’re near you.
How to deal: ‘Ask yourself why it’s so important what others think of you,’ says Rielly. ‘Is it that you feel better about yourself if they think you’re amazing? The stress of maintaining this facade can be crippling, financially and emotionally. Your sense of self-worth needs to come from within – you need to know that you are valuable, no matter what your external appearance. Affirmation and acknowledgement are a basic human need, and when you are able to affirm and acknowledge yourself you will be less invested in what others think of you.’
Why not read our tips on Nail Self-Talk #LikeABoss to improve your sense of self-worth?
Behaviour type: tattle-tale
What you do: you love to feel in the know, and a surefire way is to field a little gossip. It gives you a sense of superiority and good standing with the water-cooler set. If it’s at the expense of a friend or fellow worker, that’s too bad. Besides, they probably had it coming. You know what’s best for other people, your company, the country. And when you spot someone doing something you know they shouldn’t, like take a long lunch break, you like to do your duty: you tell on them.
What it means: the water-cooler set may be entertained by you, but others will see you as a gossip or worse. The colleague taking a long lunch may also work late, and the time-waster may be you, clocking their movements. You may also be seen as undermining company team spirit and morale. Most managers will get your measure and attribute your disclosures not to concern for the company or a deep sense of fairness, but to a mean-spirited desire to make the other person look bad, or a desperate attempt to make yourself look good.
How to deal: ‘What people say about others tells us more about the person doing the talking,’ says Rielly. ‘If you are “picky” about other people’s behaviour, it indicates a strong judgemental streak. Are you highly critical of yourself, and therefore critical of others? Try to be more nurturing of yourself, and balance criticism of self and others with praise and appreciation.’
Behaviour type: show-off
What you do: you flaunt your achievements, sometimes exaggerating them for greater affect.
What it means: instead of admiring you, others may see you as an attention junky and be irritated and even embarrassed by you, and want to ignore and avoid you – depriving you of the very thing you want most.
How to deal: ‘When you hog the limelight and top friends’ stories and achievements with bigger and better ones of your own, realise you’re making them feel belittled and risking rejection,’ says Rielly. ‘Share your successes by all means. Do it with warmth and delight, and it will create a feeling of genuine pleasure in others. Then step back and reciprocate: listen to their stories and give them praise and applause. That way you become part of a support group where everyone feels good about themselves!’