self improvement

20 Bad Things We Do In Private

Have you ever noticed when you put the key in your front door, walk inside, and settle in for some time alone or with your family, you become a slightly altered version of yourself?

You aren’t quite the same person you are at work, in social settings, or simply running up to the grocery store. There’s something about stepping into the privacy of our own homes that allows us to slip out of our public personas and relax into our unfiltered and true selves.

Of course there are many positives about dropping any pretenses, feeling completely comfortable and uninhibited. Our homes are a safe haven where we should be relaxed, accepted, and authentic. We all need to enjoy privacy with ourselves and our families to re-energize, express ourselves openly, and simply unwind without judgement or interruption from the outside world.

But privacy, alone or with our families, also gives us space and opportunity to become lesser than our best selves, to say, think and do things that aren’t in our ultimate greatest good. I’m not talking about illegal, immoral, or twisted kinds of private behaviors. I talking about the ways we subtly or sometimes overtly chip away at our confidence, our health, our integrity, and our relationships.

When we are in the privacy of our homes, it’s easy to slip into these actions and thoughts because there’s no one there to remind us, filter us, or judge us — except our families whom we often take for granted. We expect them to love us in spite of our bad behaviors.

Perhaps our times in the privacy of our homes can be the training ground for evolving into the best version of ourselves. Rather than waiting for the public eye to force us to rise to the level of social expectations, why not examine who you are when all of the barriers are stripped away to see if you really like the private version of yourself. If not, you can begin to practice upgrading your self expectations in private so they feel natural in any setting.

Here are 20 bad things we do in private. See if you recognize yourself in any of these and think about how you can begin turning them around.

1. We make excuses or lie to ourselves.

When we’re alone it’s easy to skip exercise by telling ourselves we’re too tired or we don’t need it. It’s easy to put our heads in the sand about obligations or promises when no one else is looking. How do you make excuses or tell yourself lies when alone?

2. We quit too soon.

Without accountability or deadlines, it’s tempting to give up on a project or task before you are done. What does it matter? Who’s watching? But if we develop a habit of procrastination or lack of follow through at home, it can become a habit in all parts of our lives.

3. We analyze and obsess about appearance.

When you’re alone getting dressed or looking in the mirror, how often to you pick yourself apart, staring at your flaws and feeling bad about your appearance? If there’s something you can do to improve your appearance, take action and do it. But obsessing about it and feeling bad only hurts your self-esteem.

4. We eat or drink to much or too poorly.

When we’re alone, we tend to snack, overeat, make poor food choices, or drink too much. When no one’s watching and we aren’t standing on the scale, what’s one more bag of chips or a few extra cookies? Decide how you want to treat your body and become your own best advocate for healthy nutrition.

5. We watch to much TV.

Watching TV isn’t all bad. It’s a great way to relax. But when it becomes our fallback activity every time we’re tired or bored, we don’t stretch ourselves to pursue more creative or interesting activities. And watching a lot of TV means we are sitting or reclining too much which doesn’t support a healthy, active lifestyle.

6. We indulge in negative thinking.

When we’re alone, it’s easy to get lost in negative thoughts about ourselves, people at work, the driver who cut you off, etc. Negative thinking becomes a habit that fosters anxiety, agitation, and even depression. When you’re alone, you must find a way to catch yourself in a negative thinking loop, interrupt it, and shift your thoughts or actions to something positive.

7. We speak hurtfully to our spouse, partner, or children

It’s so easy to let your stress, anger, or bad feelings impact your closest relationships when you’re in the privacy of your home. We say thoughtless and hurtful things to the people we love the most because feel safe they won’t leave us. But would you say these things to a business partner or a friend? Who do you want to be for your loved ones?

8. We work too many hours.

If you work from home or bring your work home with you, do you ever find yourself working longer than you mean to or really should? Working from home has its advantages, but not if it creates an imbalance with family, friends, and other activities.

9. We avoid resolutions.

When you’re alone, it’s far too easy to ignore problems or conflicts and distract ourselves with TV, surfing the net, or other mind-numbing activities. The longer we allow problems and conflicts to linger without addressing them, the more complicated and difficult they become.

10. We forget our manners.

It’s one thing to let it all hang out when we’re completely alone. But with your family, don’t forget that manners are one of the few things that separate us from wild beasts!

11. We isolate ourselves.

If you have a stressful job or have had a difficult day or week, it’s easy to withdraw into solitude and disconnect from the world. But too much isolation isn’t healthy. It leads to loneliness and depressions.

12. We ruminate or worry too much.

Time by ourselves gives us time to worry and ruminate about our problems or future events. When you notice this happening, distract yourself with something positive — like time with family or friends, finishing up a project, or anything that occupies your mind.

13. We give in to jealously.

Everywhere we look, we can find people who have something we want or can do something we wish we could do. It’s so easy to come home and start thinking about these people. We get caught up in jealously and longing for more. But this thinking is unproductive and potentially harmful.

14. We spend too much.

Now that we can do virtually all of our shopping online, it’s really tempting to make purchases when you never see any money being exchanged. Boredom, loneliness, and envy can pull us to the computer to purchase things we really don’t need.

15. We pry into other’s business.

Have you ever found yourself looking through your spouse’s desk or reading your daughter’s journal? Have you given unwanted or negative input to a family member simply because you could? Have you disrupted a family member’s personal time? We need to respect one another’s privacy and dignity, even when they are family and live with us.

16. We borrow without asking.

Beyond prying into other’s stuff, sometimes we just take their stuff. Maybe it’s not outright stealing, but we borrow without the courtesy of asking. Our family members deserve this as much as anyone.

17. We create a mess.

When we’re alone, what difference does it make if we leave dishes piled in the sink or our clothes scattered about? How you keep your living space is reflective of how your inner world is operating. Keeping your home clean and clutter free gives you energy and makes you and your family feel lighter.

18. We look at too much unhealthy material on the computer.

Whether it’s the news, porn, mindless rants, or celebrity gossip, our computers can be a cesspool of negative energy and images. We all look at a little mindless or scandalous junk, but if it becomes a regular habit, it will harm your relationships and your self-respect.

19. We get defensive or reactive.

When no one is looking, it takes the pressure off our emotional maturity valve. When we’re alone with our spouses or children, it’s so easy to allow child-like feelings to rise to the surface with defensive or reactive comments or behaviors. Or when we’re completely alone, we might indulge in a pity party or angry outburst.

20. We don’t affirm ourselves.

We have such a great opportunity when we’re alone to take the time to build ourselves up and become better people. Rather than indulging in negative thinking, angry words, or mind-numbing activities, think how you can use your private time to boost your confidence, become healthier, improve your relationships, or grow more self-aware.

Your home is your safe haven and should be a place of peace and rejuvenation. Begin to embrace your time alone or with your family as sacred and valuable time to be your best self and to make choices for the growth and empowerment of yourself and your family.

Barrie Davenport is a certified personal coach, author, and founder of the award-winning blog Live Bold and Bloom and creator of Simple Self-Confidence. Take her Free Self-Confidence Test here.



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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