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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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