How we think has a huge effect on how we feel. When we’re feeling down, it can be hard to imagine that we’re capable of pulling ourselves out of the slump. We can do it, however, and this post highlights nine beliefs that make unhappy people stay unhappy, plus how you can change them.
1. It needs to be perfect.
Perfection is rarely an obtainable standard, yet it’s the standard that so many of us strive to meet (and feel miserable when we don’t).
Rather than striving for perfection, we can make life a lot easier for ourselves by deciding in advance what “good enough” looks like for any given task and give ourselves permission to be satisfied with that.
2. I shouldn’t be feeling [X].
Nothing will bring us unhappiness faster than trying to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t feel a certain way. Whenever we say something that is shouldn’t be the way it is, we’re denying reality.
Every feeling we experience occurs for a reason, even if that reason isn’t rooted in the present moment. While we might not enjoy the full spectrum of our emotional experience, we’ll be a lot happier if we stop trying to change things we can’t change.
Next time you feel an emotion and hear an internal voice saying you shouldn’t feel that way, tell yourself that you’re feeling exactly the way you’re supposed to feel and see how that alters your experience.
3. I don’t deserve [X].
While it’s true there might be times when we don’t deserve this or that, the moment this phrase stops being situational and becomes a belief, it’s going to affect our happiness.
The belief that we don’t deserve something doesn’t usually exist on its own. If we unpack this belief, we’ll usually find that several beliefs around our sense of worthiness feed it, for example, “I’m only worthy if I’m always busy,” or, “I’m only worthy if I make a lot of money.”
4. If someone doesn’t like me, there must be something wrong with me.
When we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one, especially ourselves. Yet many of us still feel unhappy when someone indicates that they feel neutral or negatively towards us. We’re evolutionarily driven to seek out community and group acceptance, but it’s in the interests of our long-term happiness to recognize that we’re not necessarily going to find these things in every place we look.
Rather than focusing on whether other people like you, shift your focus to thinking about whether you like them.
5. I’ll be happy when…
The grass might always be greener on the other side, but if we wait for certain conditions to arise before we allow ourselves to feel happy, we’re missing the point of happiness altogether.
Whether you believe it or not, you can be happy now. Instead of focusing on the future, shift your focus to what you can feel gratitude for and enjoy in the present.
6. Other people are just lucky.
Believing that other people are lucky when we’re not leaves us feeling more helpless than happy. Although other people might seem to have better circumstances than us, or to have effortlessly achieved things we’re struggling with, in reality they’ve usually worked very hard for those things.
The sooner we recognize that good fortune is rarely due to chance, the sooner we can start taking small steps towards our own good fortune.
7. Other people should see the world in the same way that I do.
Like point number two, if you believe that everyone should see the world in the same way you do, you’re going to be very unhappy whenever you come into contact with other people. We’re all individuals with our own experiences, our own histories, and our own ways of looking at the world.
Instead of believing that other people are somehow wrong if they don’t have the same world view as you, try appreciating the value that their different perspectives can offer you.
8. I’m never going to be happy.
This belief is an example of a wider mindset that will lead to unhappiness: black and white thinking. While some things in the world are black and white, many more are varying shades of grey.
Happiness in particular is a skill, rather than a state of being we either experience or don’t. We can overcome this belief by practicing gratitude for what we have right here, right now, and accepting that our happiness might wax and wane over our lifetimes.
9. No one understands me/I’m the only one who feels [X].
When we’re feeling down, it’s tempting to look at everyone around us and imagine that we’re the only ones who feel this way or who are having this experience right now. While this can exacerbate the feeling, in reality, feeling sad, angry, hurt, or other typically ‘negative’ emotions is part of the normal human experience.
Remember, however you’re feeling, that you’re human and that the feeling will pass.
What are your tips for overcoming beliefs that keep people unhappy? Leave a comment and let us know.