It’s not easy to be unhappy all of the time, especially when you’re dealing with recovering from narcissistic abuse – even more so if you’re still in the relationship or dealing with the after-effects of it. You have to really work at it by developing and maintaining habits that prevent happiness and encourage unhappiness. Just as certain habits will fill your bank account or keep your waistline under control, there are several habits that will ensure that you’re unhappy.
See how many of these habits you’re currently guilty of applying to your own life.
These habits create an environment that allows unhappiness to flourish:
Pessimism. Research shows that pessimists tend to be more accurate than optimists, but optimists are much happier! Expecting bad things to happen ruins your mood and increases the possibility of negative outcomes. This can be a challenging habit to change. Ask yourself what you’re gaining by holding negative expectations in your conscious awareness.
Failure to remain focused on the present. Everything that’s meaningful is happening in your life right now. The past is over, and much of the future is completely beyond your control.
Thinking about enjoyable experiences from the past is distracting. Focusing on negative past experiences creates regret. Any time spent thinking about the past is ultimately counterproductive.
Thoughts of the future create anxiety. When you focus on the future, you tend to worry and experience stress.
One of the biggest regrets anyone can have is the belief that they’ve wasted time. Spending too much time thinking about the future or the past is a waste of time and creates a more challenging present.
Placing too much emphasis on money and possessions. Our society places a premium on the wealth and impressive items that often accompany success. However, there is a poor correlation between wealth and happiness. Studies show that an income above $75,000 does nothing to increase happiness.
You’ll also find that the neighbors are a lot less concerned with your swimming pool and fancy car than you expected.
Being financially secure is a worthy goal. An obsession with wealth is more likely to create unhappiness than to cure it.
Comparing yourself to others. While everyone might look more or less the same, there are significant differences between people. Some have more education than others. Some had kinder parents. People come from different economic backgrounds. There are a plethora of differences between you and others.
The best comparison you can make is between your present self and your past self. Maybe you’re overweight, but if you’re less overweight than you were last week, you have plenty of reason to be happy with yourself.
An obsession with perfection. Striving for perfection is a waste of time. Do the spoons really need to be perfectly stacked in the drawer? Nothing can ever be 100% perfect, so you’re setting yourself up to be miserable. Creating a standard that can never be reached is unhealthy and unproductive.
Complete tasks at an appropriate level and avoid trying to be perfect. Consider how to best use your time. The time you spend on perfection could be spent on something else.
If you’re less happy than you’d like, your habits might be to blame. The way you view the world and engage with it has an impact on your ability to experience happiness. How many of these habits are you guilty of committing? Are there any other habits you have that could be contributing to your unhappiness?
Examine your own habits and look for habits you can drop or alter. Think about new habits you can create that will move you toward happiness, and instill those habits instead.
“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” ~Ralph Marston
In my life coach certification classes, I learned a really cool technique called “The Miracle Question” that you can use to figure out exactly what you want in life – or at least to more clearly define a goal.
So, when a client is in my office or in an online session and we’re trying to figure out what direction to take our time together, I’ll ask The Miracle Question.
The Miracle Question
“What if you woke up tomorrow morning and found that a miracle had happened and life was perfect? Your goals have all been met and everything is ideal. What does that look like?”
That question often leaves a person stumped, partially because it’s so hard to imagine waking up to such a miracle. And so I help them dig into even the smallest details of their version of their perfect life – starting with nice, bite-sized pieces.
The Miracle Question in Bite-Sized Pieces
What would you choose to do in your life if you could not be stopped?
Take a few minutes to consider how you would live your life if you had everything you needed.
Go back to school?
Start your own company?
Become a philanthropist?
Buy your own island?
Without limits to your resources, there aren’t limits to your options. So you’d better think big, my friend.
Regardless of the current state of your resources, there’s always a first step toward your goal that you can take – and a second, third and so on. Each step will help build toward the next. Eventually, you’ll babystep your way there.
COACH TIP: The first step might be as simple as finding out what kind of educational opportunities you’ve got around you, deciding to look for a better or higher-paying job that either gets you closer to your ultimate goal or helps you fund it. Who knows? Maybe it’s not too late for you to become the rockstar you’ve always wanted to be – is it time to sign up for those guitar lessons?
With every step, your understanding of the situation and your resources to help fund and/or facilitate it will grow.
Celebrity Inspiration: Just consider billionaire Warren Buffett. Did you know that his humble beginnings in the business world started with a simple paper route?
Now he’s often noted as the richest man in the world – or at least one of them.
Good news – most likely, you’re already past the whole paper route thing – and your dreams might not be quite as lofty as becoming the richest man in the world. So what does that mean? Well, you can SOOOOO totally do this. Yep. It is, in fact, scientifically possible.
Like just about anything else in life, you can sort of change your perception now and watch your reality go with it. So if you can sort of “pretend”you have unlimited resources, then you can start to find solutions to challenges.
By imagining you have nothing standing in your way, you can open your mind to all the possible solutions.
Maybe you will find a solution that requires additional resources, but give yourself a chance to make it work. Turn obstacles into opportunity!
Those with unlimited resources can still struggle, so having unlimited resources isn’t a guarantee- it’s all about how you see it.
Focus on the abundance in the world and never forget that that many of the most successful people in the world started at the very bottom with not even a couple of nickles to rub together.
Believing that nothing can stand in your way and living in accord can help to determine your life’s purpose, your dream existence, and create a new set of solutions. Imagining that your resources are plentiful will open new possibilities.
You’re limiting yourself right now. What would you do with unlimited resources? What would you do if you were UNSTOPPABLE?
It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field
As I was checking my email today, I received a notification that a new comment had arrived on a post I did on this blog about how to stop feeling like you’re not good enough. This comment touched me so deeply that I felt the need to reach out to the commenter, Kate, and anyone else in her position.
I have been doing what that article recommends. Unfortunately, I’m feeling even more inferior every time. It is getting worse, day by day.
The first thing I want Kate to know is that she’s not alone. According to Dr. Joe Rubino, approximately 85% of people have experienced feelings of inferiority at some time in their lives. That’s nearly EVERYONE. I realize that doesn’t make it all better, but sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can help one begin the healing process.
And, for Kate and anyone who feels like they’re not good enough, I’d like to offer a few more suggestions, in addition to the ones made in this post.
Remember That You Are Freaking Fabulous
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh
Often times, when we feel like we’re not good enough, we are focusing on all of the things we think are ‘wrong’ with us. We worry that people won’t like us, or that they’ll think bad things about us. We feel like we don’t look good enough, that we’re not smart enough, that we’re just generally terrible people.
But what does this get us? More reasons to feel crappy about ourselves. So, I propose that we start focusing on the things we like about ourselves, the things that make us proud. Maybe you’re a good painter, or you can cook a perfect souffle, or you’ve never met an animal who doesn’t love you. Perhaps you have a beautiful smile, sparkling eyes or a great pair of legs. There is something special about every single person on the planet, and you’re no exception.
Sit down with a piece of paper and write down at least ten GOOD things about you. Write down things you love about your body (it gets you from point A to B, for example!), things you love about your personality (that sparkling wit of yours, maybe) and things you love about your life in general (you have good friends or a close-knit family, a roof over your head, etc.)
Then spend a few minutes feeling grateful for each thing on that list. Gratitude is a powerful tool, and when you focus and are grateful for the things you love in life, you draw more things to love into your life.
And Speaking of Gratitude
If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. ~Frank A. Clark
Start a gratitude journal. You can even create a private blog for your gratitude journal, if you like. That’s what I did, since as a writer, I’m nearly always near a computer. Try to write in it each day. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated–just start each entry by saying “Today, I am so very grateful for…” and let it flow.
At first, it will feel a little awkward, but once you get going, it’ll flow like water. If you have trouble thinking of things to be grateful for, why not start with the fact that you woke up today and work from there. You can be grateful for your health, your senses, your friends and family, your home, your ability to read–the list goes on and on.
This practice alone can significantly improve your general outlook on life. And, as a nice little side effect, it can help to improve your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It works because as you spend more time focusing on the good things in your life and less time focusing on the things you want to change, the law of attraction works in your favor, bringing more reasons to feel good into your life.
Follow a Passion
“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”~Earl Nightingale
Everyone has some thing or activity in their lives that they’re passionate about. For me, it’s writing. I have always known that I wanted to be a writer, and have followed that passion on some level for most of my life. The years I spent scribbling into a journal between meetings and writing corporate publications for the companies I worked for were a little tough, but I survived and lived to have the opportunity to follow my passion full-time.
One friend of mine is passionate about helping animals. She blogs about animals, volunteers for the Humane Society and helps raise funds for animal rights and assistance groups. Another friend is passionate about helping kids–and after getting her Masters Degree in Social Work, she has become a school social worker. Both are very happy in their lives.
While you may not have the option to “quit your day job” right now, there’s nothing stopping you from finding and following your passion on the side. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. You could start by doing some research and taking some classes. If you already know how to design patterns and sew, why not start making clothes? You can set up a cheap or free website and start selling.
Nothing wrong with starting small–just do SOMETHING to follow your passion, anything at all. Give yourself permission to call yourself a fashion designer (or writer, or artist, or actor, or astronaut, or whatever you want to be.) And then go and do, be and have what you want!
Studies show that people who follow their passions, whether in their careers or just as a hobby, are significantly happier than people who don’t.
“The secret of attraction is to love yourself. Attractive people judge neither themselves nor others. They are open to gestures of love. They think about love, and express their love in every action. They know that love is not a mere sentiment, but the ultimate truth at the heart of the universe.” ~Deepak Chopra
Most people unconsciously judge others. It’s human nature, and it doesn’t make you a bad person–but it might make you feel like one. When you are focusing, consciously or otherwise, on the faults in other people, you’re going to be more likely to see them in yourself too. The best way to change this pattern is to begin intentionally finding something good in every single person you meet.
So, for every person in your life and every person you meet, find at least one thing about them that makes them special. And be free with the compliments. Even if you barely know a person, you can find SOMETHING to compliment them about–and not only will you make their day, you’ll walk away feeling good about yourself too. Remember, what you put out into the world is what comes back to you. So if you’re walking around finding good and beautiful things and sharing the love by freely passing out compliments? You’ll find that you’re attracting the same back to yourself–beauty, love, compliments–and ultimately, a renewed sense of self.
A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her. ~David Brinkley
I hope that these suggestions help you as you move into a new place of peace and self worth. Know that you are worthy, you are special and you are an amazing person. Even (and especially) when you feel at your lowest, try to change your perception and see the beauty and good things all around you. Be grateful for your life, for your SELF, and for all of the good things in your life.
I have been where you are, Kate, and I know the pain and despair that comes with feeling like you’re not good enough. Nearly every person alive has felt just like you feel now. The trick is to decide that you don’t WANT to feel that way any more, and to start taking action to change it. And then, Kate, you have to BELIEVE that you can have the life you want. Believe it and trust that its yours, and watch as your life begins to transform itself to match your true divine desires. Keep your eye on the prize, my friend, it can and will get better!
And to the rest of my readers, have you ever felt like Kate feels? What sort of advice would you offer to a friend in her situation? Let me know in the comments.