On this blog and in my videos, we focus on happiness more than almost anything else – because as far as I’m concerned, happiness is the key to living a fulfilling life and making a positive impact in our world. Everyone’s journey will be different, but there are a few mental habits I’ve identified that many people exhibit that hold them back from experiencing joy. These mental habits are easily worked through once identified, so today I wanted to point out some psychological patterns that may be holding you back from fulfillment.
These 8 things can sabotage our peace of mind, success, and contentment.
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
― Steve Maraboli,
- Feeling guilty. As human beings, the majority of us waste precious moments of our short lives living in guilt. Guilt is a mental habit that will have you feeling like you are never enough or like you can never do enough. Guilt is only beneficial when it forces you to learn – if you did something wrong to someone or to yourself, like lying, cheating, stealing, or hurting someone, then you will feel guilty. Feeling guilty over things like that will motivate you to stop behaving in a hurtful way. If you use that extremely negative feeling to grow and to become a better person, ensuring you won’t make the same mistake again, then guilt can be very productive. At that point, however, you have to learn to let it go.
- You can only focus on improving who you are at this very moment – there is no going back in time. Understand that working on your future self is enough to free you from past mistakes.
- There are other types of guilt that are counterproductive, however. Don’t guilt yourself for needing to eat – nourish your body.
- If you want a peace of cake, eat it with joy and happiness. The guilt will only make the experience of eating the cake not worthy of the actual act.
- Enjoy yourself, you’re allowed to. Take breaks and naps, you’re allowed to. Learn to say no to people and not feel guilt – you are entitled to it.
- To stop feeling guilty: Realize that your thoughts don’t hurt others, but your actions will, and act accordingly. Don’t feel guilty about having certain privileges – just be a good person and be grateful for those privileges. Stop overthinking, magnifying and focusing on the things that make you feel guilty – your thoughts are now just hurting you. Realize there is no productivity in that. Ask yourself if the punishment fits the crime – are you sentencing yourself to months in a mental prison for only a minor offense? When you stop magnifying, you will realize you’re being far too hard on yourself!
- Holding grudges. Holding a grudge towards someone will hurt no one except yourself. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. Rita Mae Brown once said, “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” That could not be more true – what does holding on to the negative aspects of a person, of our life, and of ourselves do for us? Absolutely nothing. Harbouring anger and resentment towards others only hurts our own minds and bodies. To let go of a grudge is in essence a step towards self-love, because the grudge does so much damage to the person who holds onto it.
- To let go of a grudge, first, acknowledge the problem – figure out what the actual problem is and why you are holding onto this grudge so tightly.
- Share your feelings. If possible, share your feelings with the person. Use “I” sentences to keep the other person from getting defensive. If you can’t talk to the person with whom you have a problem, talk to other people about it, work it out by discussing the issue.
- Switch places. Try to gain some perspective, and put yourself in the shoes of the other person. You may not learn anything from doing this – or you may learn everything, and immediately feel a sense of relief that you now have a deeper understanding of what happened.
- Accept the current situation for what it is. Choose to heal, whether you received an apology or not. You are doing this for yourself – holding onto that pain is only hurting you.
- Feeling FOMO. So often in life, we overextend ourselves to make it to every social gathering, every extracurricular, every single opportunity because we have a FEAR OF MISSING OUT, or FOMO. What if I was to tell you that business opportunities, social events, and extracurriculars are like buses? There’s a new one coming every 15 minutes. That’s not to say not to take advantage of opportunities and to enjoy a social life – but if you feel like you are stretching yourself too thin to be seen at every event, you probably need to let go of something. You will eventually wipe yourself out, and it’ll take you so much time to get back to fighting form that you will miss more than you ever expected. There is something to be said for being exclusive, also. You aren’t missing out by not always being there, and spending time alone taking care of yourself or just resting is vital.
- Giving up on your dreams. Decide right now, this moment, that number four is never even going to be an option for you. Get rid of this mental habit today. Too often we take the safe path because we are afraid of all the mystery and unknown factors that come with chasing after our dreams relentlessly. The biggest regret you will ever face in life is giving up on something that could have made life really worth living. How much money will it take to get you to give up on that dream? When is the right time to give up? The answer should be no amount of money, and never – because your dream is an innate part of who you are, and you must never, ever walk away from yourself like that.
- Desiring validation from others. When we let go of our need for approval, we stop merely living and begin thriving. The need for validation from others kills our freedom, creates anxiety, and stops us from being happy. If you find yourself constantly looking for approval from others, you must work on self-acceptance and self-love. Build your confidence so that you feel strong enough to trust your instincts. Know that only YOU can make the right choice for your life. Check out these Byron Katie quotes that will help End Your Suffering >>
- Focusing on lack or failure. The more we focus on the negatives in life – what we don’t have or what we couldn’t succeed at, the more we attract those negative things to us. Focus on your success – any small success can set you up for future victories. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, start paying more attention to all the beautiful things you do have. With gratitude, comes abundance. Set yourself up with the mental habit of being grateful for everything you have.
- Negative self-talk.Studies estimate that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute. The way we talk to ourselves determines our self-worth and the way we perceive ourselves. You have to stop being your biggest critic and take on the role of your biggest cheerleader. The more positive self-talk you engage in, the more positive you will feel, and the happier you will be. Learn how to stop negative talk by watching this video>>.
- Comparing yourself to others. We waste an inordinate amount of time comparing our life, our journeys, and our progress to that of others’. This mental habit does us so much harm, because we are once again talking to ourselves negatively and focusing on lack. Everyone has their own story. No matter where you started or when, you are where you are now because you have fought to be there. You are working hard enough, and comparing yourself to anyone else will only send you steps backwards. Do not compare your behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reel. Remember that people often show us the best parts of themselves. We aren’t there for their human moments. Pat yourself on the back and keep going. Have blinders on to the rest of the world – just take the next step forward.