Allow them to leave, and you will discover happiness.
If you were to go into my office as a therapist, you would see individuals who came in with very specific issues they wanted to solve: chronic sleeplessness, panic attacks, a phobia of spiders, and things like that.
However, most of the time, individuals weren't quite certain why they required counseling...
- I'm not depressed; rather, I'm experiencing a lack of enjoyment in my life...
- My life is wonderful, yet I can't seem to get rid of a nagging sense of sadness.
- Although I have a lot of wonderful things and people in my life, I am not happy, and I am baffled as to why I am so unhappy...
As a result, a significant portion of our work together was spent just attempting to determine the underlying reasons of their dissatisfaction in the first place. And I believe this is something to which a large number of us can relate:
The root reasons of our sadness are not usually immediately apparent.
In reality, there are often extremely subtle psychological causes for our persistent dissatisfaction with our lives. And lighting them is the first step toward living a more happy and meaningful life in the future.
If you believe that you should be happy than you are, attempt to discover and remove the psychological factors that are contributing to your dissatisfaction.
1. You are unable to let go of your grievances.
Having a lot of resentments is one of the most apparent indications that someone is chronically unhappy: for example,
Always moaning about their insensitive employer or irritating management, they seem to be in a bad mood.
It seems like every time someone talks about how they are suffering, they end up bringing up the same old tales of how they were mistreated or let down.
Nobody, it seems, really comprehends their anguish and suffering, much alone the extent to which they have been harmed.
Of course, we're all guilty of engaging in useless whining from time to time! However, for others, gambling has become practically a way of life...
Some individuals cling to previous hurts with such tenacity that they come to be defined by them.
In other words, some individuals are the manifestations of their resentments. They get so obsessed by them that their whole existence begins to revolve around the sorrow and suffering they have experienced in the past.
After all, if your whole existence revolves on previous hurts, how could you ever be happy or content?
- How could you ever establish significant objectives for the future and make progress toward them if you're always thinking about the things that happened?
- When you're so engrossed on the past that you're unable to be really present with people in the present, it's difficult to sustain good relationships.
- How could you ever appreciate pleasant times and great feelings if your mind is always in analytical mode, attempting to figure out the specifics of every slight committed against you?–
The question is, why do we do it, when holding onto anger is so clearly poisonous and causes us to be so chronically unhappy?
What is it about letting go of our resentments that is so difficult?
Of course, every individual's circumstance is unique in some way. There are a slew of variables that play a role in this. However, one of the most frequent reasons individuals find it difficult to let go is because they are unsure of what letting go entails. This is what I mean specifically:
Letting go of resentment is more of a habit than a conscious choice.
See, a lot of people believe that once they make the decision to really let go of the past and move on, it should be sufficient motivation to do so. However, when you stop to think about it, it is utterly impractical!
Your mental habits of brooding and exaggerating your resentments have been practiced and reinforced for years, if not decades, in order to overcome your resentment. Consider the following: Do you believe that all of your mental reinforcement will just disappear in the blink of an eye because you have chosen to let go?
That's like thinking the pounds will melt away just because you've made the decision to reduce weight.
Don't get me wrong: making the choice to let go is a crucial first step. However, this is just the very first step...
When it comes to letting go of resentments, you must make a commitment to retraining your brain to break the pattern of harboring resentment.
And, like with any type of training, it will require time, patience, and repetition to see results.
That means you'll be tempted to think about your resentments dozens of times per day, if not hundreds of times each day. Then you'll have to make a new commitment to letting those things go and remaining focused on the present now each time. And each time will be difficult, in part because you may very well be legitimate in your resentments at the moment.
You were injured, to be sure. And, yes, you have every right to be upset and to remind yourself of how unjust and terrible things were at the time that happened. However, here's the rub...
Just because you have a legitimate reason to have resentments does not imply that they are beneficial to you.
To really let go of previous resentments, you must commit to the discipline of keeping your attention focused on the present, even when you have good reason to travel back to that time period.
2. You obsess about things you have no power over.
Our inability to let go is not limited to the past... Chronic anxiety about the future is a major cause of misery in many people's lives.
When you worry about what may happen in the future, you're wasting your time by thinking negatively.
Different from fixing problems or making plans in that it doesn't produce anything and is often illogical.
Although we all do it from time to time, ruminating isn't.
- Worry about our employer' reaction to the new idea
- What our partner will say if we offer them honest feedback is a concern.
- Worry about our child's performance on their first day of school
A little anxiety and stress may be caused by a few unfounded fears, but they aren't going to prevent you from enjoying your life. Almost everyone has a little concern, but they tend to dismiss it quickly so that they can go back to their daily routines.
Yet some get paralyzed by anxiety. Thus, it becomes a habit or even an obligation: "
- While at work, you're always worrying about what other people think of you, making it difficult to concentrate on the meeting's subject.
- When you imagine the worst-case scenario of your spouse leaving you, you never offer them any honest comments or criticisms. There's no intimacy in your relationships, and you're anxious all of the time.
- When your kid is struggling in school, you check in with the school personnel on a frequent basis to seek comfort that they're doing okay. That's not true. It's just going to make your nervousness worse and school's displeasure worse.
As a result of this continuous concern, a great deal of anxiety and tension are also experienced. Which leads to the very obvious conclusion that...
Being worried all the time makes it hard to be joyful.
What's the point of worrying all the time if it's causing us so much stress and unhappiness?
Especially when it makes us unhappy, why worry about things that aren't logical or out of our control?
- People who are chronic worry-warts realize that their anxiety is illogical and unproductive, contrary to popular belief:
- Not one person thinks he or she will be safer if they worry about their spouse's trip.
There's no evidence to suggest that caring about what other people are thinking would lead to a more optimistic outlook.
So we don't care about the result. We're always trying to improve ourselves and find ways to improve ourselves. To be more precise...
We worry because it momentarily gives us a sense of control over the situation.
Because it helps us feel better in the short-term, we worry despite the fact that it is counterproductive and makes us nervous and unhappy in the long-term. It makes us feel like we can do something about problems that are essentially beyond our control.
Human beings, on the other hand, despise feeling powerless. Our hatred of helplessness makes us ready to endure extreme anxiety and misery in exchange for a short respite from helplessness and a feeling of certainty and control.
When we consume junk food, we worry because the short-term advantages outweigh the long-term bad effects
- You have no way of knowing whether your kid will have a difficult first day at school. It does, however, offer you something to do, which is similar to addressing a real issue. So you feel a bit less helpless for a while.
- There's no way to know for sure whether someone hates you or not. In any case, caring about what others think offers you something to occupy your time and mind with. The emotional agony of recognizing that other people may not like you and that there's not always much you can do about it is momentarily alleviated.
As a last note:
Because we want to be in control, we worry a lot.
It's a pity, but it's just a fleeting sensation. To get there, though, we employed an ineffective and anxiety-inducing tool: worry.
Our inability to accept that we have no control over our circumstances leads to worry and tension.
But if you're ready to accept your powerlessness and endure it, you may break the habit of chronic anxiety and regain a great deal of your pleasure.
3. You associate with people you dislike.
According to one of the major fallacies of the self-help movement, all of your problems are created in your mind.
That if you simply changed your perspective, updated your harmful ideas, or began thinking more positively, everything would be better, including your happiness, is a common misconception.
This is just rubbish.
No matter how much positive thinking we do, our living circumstances — particularly those of other people — have an impact on us.
It goes without saying that our way of thinking is important. The belief, on the other hand, that circumstances do not matter as long as you have the proper attitude is not only foolish, but it is also potentially hazardous.
The following are the reasons:
When you devote all of your efforts to controlling yourself, you have little time or energy left over to manage your surroundings.
Furthermore, your surroundings, particularly your social environment, is important...
In the case of a manipulative narcissist, no matter how many good mantras you repeat to yourself every morning, your marriage will be miserable.
- No matter how much mindfulness meditation you practice, if you spend eight hours a day in a job you detest, doing work you despise with people you despise, you will be unhappy no matter how much meditation you practice.
- If you continue to allow your mother to interject herself into your marriage, you will experience a great deal of tension and dissatisfaction in your relationship, no matter how many couples therapy sessions you attend.
The purpose of all of this is to convey what seems to be a pretty simple point:
The people you choose to surround yourself with have a significant impact on your level of happiness in life.
In general, if you surround yourself with supportive, honest individuals who share and appreciate your beliefs, you're going to feel fairly good about yourself, all other things being equal.
Those who are surrounded by individuals who are critical and judgemental, who bring you down and do not respect your beliefs or rights, on the other hand, are likely to experience negative emotions.
As a result of this...
Continued association with individuals you dislike is one of the most destructive kinds of self-sabotage.
If that's the case, why do so many people spend so much of their time with individuals they despise and find miserable?
What is the most significant cause is a reluctance to establish appropriate limits.
As an illustration:
You are well aware that when your mother-in-law calls you, it always causes you tension, which then negatively affects your mood with your own family thereafter. So, why do you constantly pick up the phone when she calls?
Because you're scared of establishing limits...
When she calls, you're worried about what she'll think of you if you let the phone go to voicemail. You're worried about the scathing text you'll get as a consequence of your actions.
- When you go to the next family dinner gathering, you're scared of the passive-aggressive remarks you'll get.
The process of establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries, particularly with those who are close to us, is very difficult:
The ability to endure a wide range of unpleasant emotions such as fear, sorrow, frustration, and loneliness is essential.
As a result, we must sometimes make significant adjustments to our lives and relationships, including shutting off or restricting contact with individuals who were previously close to us.
After all, what do you have as an alternative?
- Continue to feel nervous and depressed in the presence of these people?
- Do you want to continue allowing them to control how you live your life?
In order to accommodate their beliefs and objectives, would you continue to compromise on your own values and goals along the way?
Of course, none of this is without its difficulties. Having said that, it is difficult to be happy when you are surrounded by individuals who make you unhappy.
You will be happy in the long term if you have the confidence to be aggressive and establish good limits in your relationships.
Unhappiness is often the consequence of subtle psychological variables that are difficult to identify. However, if you are able to recognize them and begin to work through them, you will experience more lasting and genuine happiness:
- Make a commitment to letting go of grudges.
- Stop obsessing over things you have no control over.
- Establish appropriate boundaries in your interactions with others.