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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 July 3, 2020

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

1. For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

2. For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

4. For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
  • Shut down your thinking
  • Calm your feelings
  • Simply focus on the present moment

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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