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10 Things To Stop Caring About If You Want To Be Happier

10 Things To Stop Caring About If You Want To Be Happier

It’s time to care less. Yep, that’s right. Sometimes we take the world on our shoulders, and instead of making the world a better place, all we end up doing is creating more stress for ourselves. Here are simple tips to ease that heavy mental load and feel more carefree.

1. What others think

Dance to your own beat. Act dumb. Do whatever you have to but don’t take on board what others think. It’s your life, your decisions and choices. Others love to judge, and why should you care if they do? Only you define yourself, so let them be amused if it makes them happy. When you care too much about that others will say, you live your life for them and not yourself.

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2. Past mistakes

We all make mistakes and mess up in life. That’s just how life goes. Don’t be hard on yourself, though. Accept that everyone gets it wrong sometimes; it’s part of the human condition. You really are allowed to cut yourself some slack. Learn to forgive yourself more often.

3. Failure

The big “F” word that everyone fears. It doesn’t have to be a scary concept, though. Ultimately, it depends on your attitude to failure. If you see failure as not being perfect, you’re going to be permanently miserable. A more realistic idea of failure is giving up. If you haven’t given up, you haven’t failed. See failure as a learning curve, a trial and error process. See failure as your friend – it’s no big deal unless you allow it to be.

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4. What you don’t have

The human default position tends to err on the side of lack rather than abundance, which is not conducive to feeling carefree. We focus on what we don’t have and end up feeling thoroughly deprived. What’s the point of that? I often tell my clients to focus on the positives of what they have and the negatives of what they don’t have. Why would you want to torture yourself with all the things you don’t have? That type of thinking will not serve you in any productive way at all. Make a list of all the things in your life that you appreciate. There will always be others with more and others with less. What you have is enough.

5. “What Ifs”

We can drive ourselves crazy worrying about what might happen in the future. No one can predict the future (psychics might dispute this), and there is no point in torturing yourself unnecessarily about things that may never come to pass. Remind yourself that this type of worry is wasted energy and distract yourself. Face worry head on – if you can do something in the present moment, go for it. If not, distract yourself and ‘shelve’ the worries.

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6. “I’ll be happy when…” thoughts

When we believe that we will be happy once something has happened, we effectively put our life on hold until the event happens. Wishing your current life is away is a precious waste of happy moments in life. Be in the moment more and care less about being happy in the future. Decide to be happy now. Happiness is not a destination, it is a manner of traveling.

7. Regrets

Regret is a part of life. The past cannot be undone, so it pays to look at what you have done in life philosophically. Did you learn something from it? If you learned never to do it again or to try a different approach, then you’ve ended up with a positive result. Accept what has gone before, make allowances for human error and move on.

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8. Rejection

Many of us are so afraid of rejection that we stay in our comfort zones and never risk true intimacy. Wear your heart on your sleeve and risk being vulnerable. The more you hide out of fear, the greater the fear will grow. Show yourself that you can express your feelings and live with the consequences. You will conquer fear of rejection in this way and feel more carefree. Even if the outcome is not as expected, you will soon realize that it wasn’t as bad as you anticipated and that you can deal with it. Be a little more thick skinned, be brave and see life as an adventure.

9. Society’s expectations

Be thin, be beautiful. Show off your wealth and status and then you’ll be adored. What nonsense. When you like and accept yourself as you are, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Don’t buy into the constant media images of perfection. Most of the images are airbrushed and lead us to believe that we should all look as perfect. Try not to take it to heart. We all like to see perfect images, but don’t lose sight of the fact that most of it is digitally enhanced and not natural. Love yourself, imperfections and all. Self acceptance is true freedom.

10. Being good enough

It’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up somehow. We live in a competitive world. It’s okay and even healthy to want to improve and grow as a person. It becomes unhealthy, though, when we internalize negative ideas about how we aren’t good enough. Always challenge this type of thinking. What is “good enough”? Where is the international rule book that clarifies what “good enough” is? As long as you feel happy with who you are, where you are and how far you have come, that is all that matters.

We all worry unnecessarily and create inner misery for ourselves. Remember the above ten points, as they are definitely items you can immediately remove from your worry list. Hopefully you’ll feel a little lighter and a little more carefree too!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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