Struggling to feel more positive about life? It’s easy to think that joy will (or should) just come to us, but a lot of it is down to our mindset. It’s important to remember that we have a degree of control over how we feel.
Although we all want to be happy, we might be subconsciously sabotaging ourselves through some of our own behaviours, whether it’s always expecting the worst outcome, or worrying too much about what others think. So, here are seven ways you might be undermining your own happiness, and how to change them for the better.
The problem: you always expect the worst
Often without us realising, our minds jump to the worst possible outcome and fixate on it, no matter how improbable the scenario is.
“Allow yourself a set amount of time to sit and contemplate all of your fears and worries about a situation – let every little fear out,” says life and wellness coach Elisabetta Franzoso (elisabettafranzoso.com). “When you actually allow yourself to worry, you realise that there’s only so much time you can do this for! Jot down a list of possible outcomes, starting with the worst scenario. This will diffuse its power over you. Since it has been extracted from within you and put onto a piece of paper. Practise a daily meditation or visualisation in order to enter a space of trust. Rather than fear. When we act and think out of fear, we create an energetic barrier in order to protect ourselves. Without realising we’re impeding the positive outcomes from reaching us in the process.”
The problem: you worry too much about what others think
Studies show that we consistently overestimate how much, and how badly, others think about us and our failings.
“Instead of stopping yourself caring about other people’s opinions, start by also including your own opinion and then also looking at the situation as an objective observer (someone not involved),” say NLP master trainers Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training (monkeypuzzletraining.co.uk). “This redresses the balance. It’s okay to care about what other people think, but not at the expense of your own beliefs. If you can begin to look for multiple viewpoints, your mind will no longer only consider other people’s, but include other perspectives too, which will help you to make better choices and feel comfortable about them.”
The problem: you listen to your inner critic
Trying to ignore the voice in our heads that constantly reminds us of our failures can be a difficult task.
“Everyone has an inner voice that often ends up in the critical seat,” wellbeing coach Sarupa Shah (thesoulagentblog.com) tells us. “The best advice I can give is to sit in front of a mirror and have that conversation with your inner critic, either out loud or in your mind. You could do this in your journal too as a written exercise. After a few minutes, ask yourself if a friend was talking to you in the way your inner critic does, would they still be a friend? While there is nothing wrong with thinking that something could have been done or handled better, it’s how you tell that to yourself – are you saying it with kindness and opportunity for growth, or simply as a put down? Another great technique is for every constructive criticism you have, match it with something positive, so you keep the balance and don’t feel done in by your own inner voice.”
The problem: you’re exhausted from doing things that you don’t want to do
Are you a people-pleaser? Do you feel that you’re obliged to go to every social occasion you’re invited to? You’re left worn out all because you put others before yourself. Right?
“Make your wellbeing your motivation and top priority,” Elisabetta states. “Realise that it’s okay to put yourself first/ To be healthily selfish (this is contrary to the popular self-sacrificial belief in the UK). This doesn’t mean forgetting your friends, co-workers and family, it means filling your cup first so that you have the ability to give back as and when the time comes. If you’re empty, you’re not able to be authentic or present with the people around you anyway, so nurture yourself first. Make a list of the things that fill you up, such as pamper days and hobbies.”
The problem: you can’t forgive your past mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes it can be hard to leave painful things in the past and focus on the future.
“If moving on is difficult, and you carry shame, guilt and regret and live in fear of repeating mistakes or being found out, despite knowing that you can’t change it, then get help,” says Sarupa. “Go and see a coach or a counsellor, someone who can help you re-frame your past and look forward to creating a future that you will love. We all have skeletons in our closet, and often we make them bigger than they were, or carry hurt around like an open wound. This is a form of self-abuse that stops you from moving forward freely.”
The problem: you’re afraid of failure
The fear of not succeeding is nothing more than a desire to feel safe, but it can hold you back in life.
“All the most successful people in the world have failed at something, yet it remains the biggest obstacle standing in the way of change as it attaches itself to our guilt and shame buttons,” explain Karen and John. “Try to train your mind to accept that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes and not listen to silly criticism from people who are less than perfect themselves. Start by messing up small things, like making breakfast or leaving typos in a text to a friend. Things that won’t have big consequences. Also, consider the real repercussions of failure. For example, people are scared of failing exams. But the only consequence is that they may need to retake it. Then you will start to feel more confident about taking steps forward.”
The problem: you always compare yourself to others
It’s so easy to look at others’ lives and think that they’re better than your own. Especially over social media where everyone seems to be living their best lives.
“‘Comparisonitis, as I call it, is like a disease that’s spreading. Especially since the advent of social media,” Sarupa tells us. “With that being said, self-comparison is actually an old school issue. It eats away at your head, making you feel inadequate. You can even slip into pangs of jealousy. A great solution is to come off social media or unfollow those who make you feel like this. If you’re really unhappy, take positive action. Start a nightly journal. Write a list of 12 things at the end of each day that you did/achieved/experienced/ conquered in the past 24 hours and start to see how much you have to be proud of!”
Staying positive is really difficult to do. Especially when negative thoughts fill your mind. But don’t worry! Click here to find out how you can run your way to a more positive attitude!