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15 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Happiness

15 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Happiness

Most of our goals are aimed at finding some version of happiness. Whether it’s getting a kick-ass job, finding a loving partner, or making the perfect frittata, the end goal of every endeavor is happiness. The problem is that our best efforts to find it simply dig us deeper into the ditch.

When it comes to happiness, most of us self-sabotage. In fact, it’s part of our everyday lives. Are you ready to get out of your own way?

1. You listen to your inner critic

Your inner critic is that little nay-saying nag that lives in your head whose sole purpose is to convince you that you suck. If you’ve tried to ignore it, you probably know that it’s easier said than done. The truth is that your inner critic is a strength that’s dialed up too high. It existed at one point to help you feel safe, but as an adult, it no longer serves you. If you try to push it down, it will eventually rear its ugly head in an equally ugly way.

The Solution: Instead of rejecting your inner critic, get curious and listen to what it’s really trying to tell you. What fear is it projecting onto the situation? What do other parts of you have to say in response? No decision is one-sided, so why not go from monologue to dialogue? Allow each voice in your head to have a turn to speak: the angel, the devil, and everything in between.

2. You choose the certainty of where you are over the fear of the unknown

It’s easier to choose a painful certainty than risk the unknown. If you’re unhappy in your current situation, no amount of gratitude or affirmations will help if you don’t actively choose to make it better. And if you’re rationalizing not following your dreams as “being practical” or if you’re still thinking “things really aren’t that bad,” just remember most people only take action when the pain of their current situation becomes greater than their fear of the unknown.

The Solution: You can wait to hit rock-bottom, or you can cut to the part where you embrace change. If you aren’t happy, it’s not sustainable. Eventually, something will have to change. Why not make it on your timeline?

3. You procrastinate

After pulling an all-nighter, a friend in college said to me “Procrastination is a lot like masturbation, it’s great until you realize you’re f***ing yourself.” Though crass, she had a good point.

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The Solution: Identify the limiting belief that’s preventing you from taking action. Then, act “as if”. Ask yourself “What would someone who isn’t afraid do?” Acknowledge your discomfort and act anyway. Building a track record will help to dispel the fear, making it easier to take action toward what you truly want.

4. You’re afraid of failure

The fear of failure is nothing more than a desire to feel safe. The problem is that it also keeps us stagnant. We tend to forget that making a mistake doesn’t make you a “failure”. Seen differently, it’s nothing more than a helpful, albeit unpleasant, learning experience.

The Solution: Ask yourself, “What did I learn? What worked? How can I fine-tune things next time?” And if you feel like you’re the only one who’s ever failed, look at every artist, entrepreneur, or virgin, and you’ll be in great company. Christopher Columbus “failed” and he got a holiday named after him. Not too shabby if you ask me.

5. You can’t forgive your past screw-ups

Sure, you’ve made mistakes. Lots of them. Hopefully, you learned from them. But if you’re still holding onto the pain and guilt instead of surrendering and forgiving yourself, it may be time to develop compassion. It can be painful and challenging, but it’s the first step to letting go of your old story and writing a new one.

The Solution: Release it. Beating yourself up simply ensures you’ll never move forward. Since you can’t go back in time, focus on who you want to be and what you want to create in the future.

6. You try to control everything

I used to jokingly say, “I’m not manipulative, I’m an outcome engineer.” While that deep need for control kept me safe, it also kept me stuck. Surrendering an outcome taught me that letting go of what I think I want (whether that be a guy or a job title) creates the space for bigger and better things to flow into my life. If you’re trying to control your partner rather than realizing it’s time to end things, you may be preventing yourself from meeting someone who’s right for you.

The Solution: Trying to control things blocks you from growth and acceptance. Change what you can, surrender what you can’t, and know the difference.

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7. You’re codependent

If you rely on others for happiness, you’re blocking your ability to give it to yourself. Your relationships with others should mirror the happiness and love you have for yourself. Prioritizing yourself isn’t selfish. If you’ve ever put others first and then resented them for it, you only have yourself to blame. Sounds harsh, but sometimes setting a boundary is the best way to avoid an emotional hangover.

The Solution: Quit waiting to be saved; it’s time to save yourself. What steps can you take to empower yourself? Maybe it’s time to earn more money, find more friends, or take care of your own needs. And if you’re new to setting boundaries: compromise on little things, not on your values. You can repeat old patterns or choose what’s right for you. To do this, imagine fast-forwarding to the point when you’ll say “hindsight is 20/20.” Think about how you’ll feel an hour, a day, a year from now.

8. You’re exhausted from doing things you don’t want to do

If your social life is more exhausting than exciting, it may be time to re-evaluate your “obligations”. Sure, it may seem like you need to stop by your second cousin’s Christmas party, but if you aren’t making time for yourself, you’re likely to burn out faster than it takes you to down the eggnog. If you’re spending time with people you don’t really like, you may be settling for companionship rather than true friendship. An hour with a negative person is more physically and emotionally exhausting than an hour on the treadmill.

The Solution: Choose where to invest your energy. Still feel the pull of an obligation? Ask yourself, what would someone with self-compassion do in this situation? Sometimes we need to act “as if” until we build the “I deserve greatness” muscle.

9. You blame others

If there’s one thing I learned from my first 10 years in therapy, it’s that everything I blamed someone else for was my fault and everything I blamed myself for was someone else’s fault. Bluntly put, but accurate. This taught me two things:

  • Culpability doesn’t change a situation
  • No matter who’s at fault or who takes responsibility, you have the ability to change your situation

It’s easy to get caught in the “I wish things were different” cycle, but all that does is keep you stuck.

The Solution:Take responsibility, not simply for what happened, but for what you want to create. Self-awareness gives you the courage and humility to take personal responsibility. 

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10. You try to fix people

Even if you could change others, you still wouldn’t be happy. Why? Because it’s less about fixing and more about feeling safe. Accept others for who they are, not who you’d like them to be.

The Solution: Change what you can control: You. That means to adjust your expectations or let them go.

11. You’re a perfectionist

It’s great to do your best, but if your happiness is dependent on the outcome, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. Nothing is perfect. This symptom of “black and white thinking” is often what holds us back from taking that initial step or being happy with the end result.

The Solution: Ask yourself “Why?” Sure, you want to conquer the world, but if you’re killing yourself in the process you may be achieving in order to feel validated and worthy. What can you do to give that to yourself instead?

12. You compare yourself to others

They often say “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In actuality, it’s an act of violence. You may choose to believe that you are in lack and that others are living amazingly abundant, kick-ass lives. But the truth is that you have no clue what’s going on behind their trendy Facebook check-ins and perfectly put-together outfits. The jealousy you feel is less about what the other person has and more about what you perceive you do not have.

The Solution: Realize that the comparison is not about the other person, but a tool to tell you what you want in life. Inspiration is the healthy byproduct of jealousy. If you’re hyper-focused on what you don’t have, you’ll never notice all the great things you do have. And if you still need to compare, do it with yourself. Aim to get happier, healthier, and stronger than you were the day before.

13. You worry too much about what others think

Most people determine how they’re doing by consciously or unconsciously soliciting other people’s opinions. And since you’re hardwired to try to impress people, you’re usually trying to please those who can’t be moved.

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The Solution: Other people’s views are not more relevant than your own. It doesn’t matter if they are older, more successful, or better educated. Their opinion is simply that: an opinion, nothing more. Decide what’s right for you no matter who disagrees.

14. You’re afraid to ask for help

Nobody knows everything. Most people simply fake it. In a world that encourages self-sufficiency, most of us avoid being vulnerable at all costs. It’s a manifestation of fear, whether it’s a desire to seem perfect, a fear of abandonment, or the need to be liked.

The Solution: There’s no weakness in asking for help. Just be sure to ask the right people. Ask the person who has what you want. Your partner, friends, and parents, though convenient, aren’t necessarily the best sources.

15. You don’t savor the good stuff

It’s easy to focus on problems, what’s going wrong, and the crazy shit other people do. In fact, we overwhelm ourselves with it, making it nearly impossible to see the good stuff.

The Solution: Next time something good happens, stop and actually appreciate it. Slow down and savor it. Notice the nuances: the sights, sounds, and smells that make the moment amazing. You see what you look for. Practice savoring and you’ll be conditioned to notice the things that make you happy and not just the crap that brings you down.

The Takeaway:

Self-sabotage isn’t a one-time act. It’s a process. No one is happy all the time. But if you’re sabotaging your best efforts by judging yourself, avoiding responsibility, or controlling others, you’re ensuring that you’ll stay in this state forever. Ultimately, happiness isn’t just a mood. It’s a lifestyle and a choice.

Featured photo credit: http://www.lifehack.org via lifehack.org

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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