We all want to feel happy and secure instead of feeling like our lives, or how we show up in life, isn’t ‘enough’.
Happiness; however, is a state of mind. It can fluctuate based on our experiences but also create the foundational lens and impact how we look outward, as well as inward. For anyone who has experienced depression, it can feel like you’re stuck in quick sand with no way of getting out, and happiness may feel elusive.
The good news is that we can cultivate happiness – it simply needs to be practiced! I’m not talking about “fake it ‘til you feel it” or “don’t worry just be happy” sentiments – because telling a depressed person to just ‘be happy’ is like telling a person who has feelings of food addiction to ‘just stop eating’.
It’s not that simple – the solution is not that black-and-white. However, there might be some automatic tendencies that we don’t realize are deepening our depression, or if we know they are, we’re not sure how to pull out of the self-sabotage rut.
Here are 3 common habits that get in the way of happiness, and ways in which to learn how to let go of these obstacles in order to live a healthier, happier life.
1 Give Up: Negative Self-Talk
If you’re a perfectionist whose thoughts default to ‘not enough-ness’ (not perfect enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough etc…) believing it will motivate you to ‘fix it’ – think again.
You see – desperate thoughts typically lead to desperate feelings (hello hopelessness, worthlessness, shame, depression, etc…) which then leads to desperate measures in the form of behaviors to cope with the feelings our thoughts elicit.
It’s a vicious cycle and if left unaddressed it can propel us into feelings of depression. The way to combat that inner critic is to practice the skill of self-compassion .
And again, I’m not talking about saying ‘I love myself’ or ‘I love my body’ if that doesn’t feel authentic to you – but finding a way to be more gentle – more neutral at the very least – with our inner dialogue so that we can step away from the harshness of negativity and into a more compassionate relationship with Self.
2 Give Up: Caring for Others More than for Yourself
Yeah – you know who you are. Self-care is last on your long list of priorities, and even the thought of putting yourself first feels selfish.
But we all have our limits – we have needs and if we don’t put self-care on the top of that list – mental, emotional and or physical health will suffer. Instead of viewing self-care as selfish – think about it as stepping in to selfness.
Remember the oxygen mask instruction when before takeoff on a plane? We have to put our oxygen mask in first in order to effectively attend to those we love and care for the most.
3 Give up: Resisting Change
Change is typically uncomfortable, but resisting change is torturous.
Surrendering to change often requires a leap of faith from the comfort of the known into the discomfort of the unknown.
Often when the desire for a lifestyle change is knocking at our door, we may focus on what we don’t want to give up instead of all that we will gain mentally and emotionally by bringing about the desired change.
However, change is more of a process than an event, so when we can learn to embrace the inevitable ebb-and-flow that permeates the process of change, we can settle into the ‘in-between’ space as we learn to let go of old ways and learn new ones – we will lessen the feeling of struggle in the moment.
So – if you (or someone you love) is struggling with the blues see if any of these tendencies are in play – and if so, pick one to focus on giving up in order to pave the way toward creating a happier, more joyful life!