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Published on April 30, 2019

How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy

How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy

We live in a society where it is important to fit in. Leading a positive and happy life is highly valued and feeling sad or “blue” about life is not so valued. As a result, we are constantly trying to always be positive and happy. In our minds there is no room for sadness.

This is not a realistic way to live life.

Telling yourself to be positive is no help to you because your sadness when it hits you has a life of its own. Keeping up an impression of positivity and happiness when you are feeling sad is draining and hard work. If anything this charade will intensify your feelings of sadness, and you will struggle to find the pathway that will lead you to living a happy, resilient life.

I believe that sadness is a base line feeling that feeds into all of our other feelings such as anger, frustration and fear. The deeper we bury the feeling of sadness the harder it is to feel happy.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung

The 5 key strategies below are practical ways for you to successfully manage sadness in your life so you that can have a life that flows with happiness.

1. Recognize Your Type of Sadness

There are 3 types of sadness that most of us fall into:

Short-Term Sadness

This is a passing mood that may last anything from a day to a week. Sometimes there is a reason for this feeling but sometimes there is not.

Generally lack of sleep, no physical activity and excess stress are associated with this sadness.

The best approach to dealing with this sadness is to lower your stress level by having a few nights of great sleep, getting active by doing some exercise and looking at ways to break up your routine.

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Pampering your self, going for a massage, reducing alcohol intake and eating healthy food are effective ways to manage short-term sadness.

Trigger Sadness

This feeling of sadness has been activated as a result of a traumatic event that has happened to you, such as the death of someone close to you, losing your job, divorce or financial ruin.

This feeling of sadness can make you feel helpless and vulnerable and it does not go away overnight. The key to managing trigger sadness is looking for ways to support you to process these feelings and not bury them.

One way for you to manage these deep feelings of sadness is to talk about and share your feelings with someone who can console you, support you and counsel you. Having a supportive network of family and friends is key to you managing your feelings of sadness.

It is also wise to get professional support such as a councillor or therapist to guide you through practical steps to processing your feelings of sadness.

Along with these key actions and actively working on reducing the general stress levels in your life, you will find that after a period of 3 to 6 months, you will be back at a baseline feeling of happiness. This is where you start to rebuild and strengthen your foundations in life – your physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

Depression

If you feel sad, hopeless, helpless, unable to eat or sleep and have no energy for a period of time of more than one month or two, then you are likely to feeling depressed.

Depression is usually set off as a result of event that usually you would cope with. However, for some reason, your coping mechanism has broken down.

Depression is complicated and it can vary from person to person. If you have these feelings, then it is wise that you seek the advice of a doctor.

The strategies presented in the rest of this article can along with specialist support enable you to live a happy fulfilled life.

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2. Identify What Happiness Means To You

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”  — Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey

Happiness is the only cure for sadness. There is no other cure that works better. It sounds so easy to say however it is not so easy to achieve.

At its most basic level, happiness is a feeling that comes about as a result of us doing things in our lives that we love to do.

So if we are feeling sad, then we should take action and activities that brings a joy such as catching up with a friend, going for a walk, getting a massage, goimg out to dinner, going to the movies, or hiding away to read a good book. The list of activities that we can do that make us feel happy is extensive.

The first thing you need to do is identify what activities that you do or would like to do that bring you joy and make you feel happy.

When we feel sad, we are more likely to want to withdraw and not do anything. We tend to disengage from everything that is going on around us.

The only way we can start to feel happy is to take action and start doing things.

We can never avoid the feelings of sadness, hurt or disappointment. However, we can deal with them in constructive ways that will help avoid excessive suffering.

It is so important to know what happiness means to you because when you know this, you will have meaning and purpose in your life. This is what brings to your life the feeling of happiness and the experiences of joy.

3. Commit To Practising These 3 Actions of Happiness Daily

When you are feeling sad, you are more likely to want to avoid people.

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These 3 actions of happiness are very practical ways in which you take action to move away from feeling sad to feeling more joyous. All it takes is for you make a choice, take action and commit to consistently doing these actions of happiness.

Gratitude

Expressing gratitude on a daily basis and actively appreciating those people in your life who are important to you are very simple yet, powerful actions that will take you from a place of sadness to a more joyful place.

Acceptance

Accepting the things that you cannot change and acting on the things that you can change are key to you finding joy and peace in your life. Once you acknowledge the reality of your situation, you can then plan to take effective action that will enable you to move forward to a better place in your life.

Acts of Kindness

When you are feeling sad, your focus is very inward at self. Helping others is a great way to feel better about you. It is often the spontaneous acts of kindness that give us the most joy.

The more we help others and the more we interact and engage with people the less we tend to withdraw and focus inwardly on our feelings of sadness.

Happiness and joy are external feelings that need to be shared with others and an act of kindness is an effective way for us to share and feel joy with others.

4. Commit To Cultivating Your Personal Wellbeing

When you accept sadness in your life, your personal wellbeing will suffer.

Happiness is more than a feeling; it is a longer lasting state that is called your wellbeing. Your wellbeing encompasses your state of your mind, body and emotions.

When all is in balance, then you will experience contentment and peace of mind. You are more emotionally agile and physically resilient; and therefore more effective at managing the challenges that life will throw at you.

Commit to making your wellbeing your top priority in your life. When you do this you become more effective at managing sadness in your life.

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5. Eliminate The Phrase – I Will Be Happy When…..

Sudden happiness does not exist and the phrase “I will be happy when…” indicates that happiness comes when you get what it is you believe will make you happy.

Many people think that if they win the Lottery, then they will be happy – this is not true. In a consumer driven society of today, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your happiness to the material gains and success of others.

Be careful that you don’t equate happiness with momentary pleasure because if you do, you will eventually feel conflicted and discontent. It is these feelings will take you to a place of sadness.

Final Thoughts

Focus on looking for ways where you create a life where happiness is a feeling that you have total responsibility for – no one else, just you.

When you have created a life where you have attained this, then the phrase “I will be happy when…” is eliminated from your vocabulary.

How sad we feel and the reasons why we feel sad is different for everyone. The one thing we all have in common however, is that it is impossible for us to go from feeling sad to feeling happy instantly.

The above five strategies are practical ways that support you to manage your feelings of sadness where you are in control and empowered to choose to how you want to feel and how you want to live your life. Let’s hope you choose – happiness.

“If you look to others for fulfilment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.” — Lao Tzu

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Featured photo credit: Brittani Burns via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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