Most of the stuff that causes us suffering—that makes us feel bad, or limited, or stuck in some sort of negative emotion—comes from our own thoughts and beliefs.
Which means that we have to figure out a way to shift our thinking, and release the mental tendencies that aren’t serving us.
Here are five things you need to stop doing to feel happier.
1. Caring what other people think.
This sucker is sitting right up here at number one, because it’s one of the biggest, and most powerful shifts you need to make in order to start living the kind of life you want to live.
It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you or what you’re doing. If it feels good and right to you, then do it.
You know what’s best for you. You really, really do. Inside, you have a voice that speaks without words. You just have to listen to it. You have to tune into it. You have to go with your intuition and the direction it gives you, because all of that inner knowledge is guiding you in every, single moment.
Do what moves you, and let everything else go.
One question I always ask myself when I feel my little ego voice creeping in—worrying what someone will think about something I’ve said, or done, or written, is: What was my intention behind this? Was it pure? Did I do it from my heart? Did I try my best?
If yes, then it’s easy to let go of everything else. It’s easy to stop caring what anyone else thinks, because I know that whatever I’ve done is coming from a place of purity and love.
2. Trying to control, force, and manipulate everything.
You can’t barrel your way through life. I mean, you can try, but you’re not going to get very far. And, you’re not going to have much fun in the process.
For some reason, many of us seem to have adopted this mindset that harshness, diligence, and hard work will get us to where we want to be. And that, just so long as we keep our eyes focused on the finish line, we can will ourselves forward. No matter what. There’s no obstacle that can block us, no barrier that can keep us away.
But, this relentless, unyielding action just doesn’t work. And all it does is create stress and tension. It also causes us to feel inadequate when, for instance, we can’t meet every expectation we’ve set.
We’re never going to control everything in life. So, instead of trying to plan everything, or create these super detailed, inflexible outlines, we need to find a way to be more fluid. We need to be able to go with the information provided, and flow with the experiences that show up, because that’s what’s going to bring us ease. And ultimately, it’s also going to bring us more of what we want anyway.
If there’s something you can do, do it. If there’s an action to take, take it. If it feels right, go with it.
But if something is uncertain, or you don’t have the answer, or you know that what you’re doing is pushing, and forcing (because you absolutely know) then surrender. Let go. Just a little bit. Take a break from whatever your focusing on, and allow the answer to come to you.
Because, after you’ve done everything you know how to do, you can’t do anymore just now. Release, allow, and see what shows up. Give yourself the opportunity to see what will unfold.
3. Trying to be someone you’re not.
So often, because we’re afraid of being judged, we play a role. We try to pretend we’re someone we’re not. We try to portray ourselves as the kind of person we believe we’re meant to be, rather than who we really are.
We do what it takes to fit in.
Throughout my life I’ve always known precisely what people expect of me, and I’ve always met those expectations with precision. That’s probably why I was such a good student. I could always easily figure out what teachers wanted from me.
It’s also, though, why I spent most of my life disconnected from who I really am. I was unable to accept myself, because I didn’t live up to the image I had in my mind of who I should be, or what I should be like.
For example, I’ve always been quiet. I’m an introvert. I don’t particularly like big social situations, especially when there are a lot of people I don’t know. And, for most of my life, I felt like there was something lacking in me, because I didn’t have the effortless social skills of my younger sister (a true extrovert that one is!). So, instead of owning my introverted nature, and reveling in it—understanding the strengths and beautiful characteristics it brings with it—I tried to act as if I was extroverted. I went out of my way to seem as if I was outgoing.
I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel good. And, it was exhausting.
Trying to be someone else is tiring, because it takes a lot of energy. And it’s not fulfilling.
It’ll always be unsatisfying, and leave us feeling hollow, because we were literally born to be who we are.
In order to be happy, you have to let yourself be who you are. Not who you think you’re supposed to be.
4. Any, and all, perfectionist tendencies.
Perfectionism doesn’t exist. And, so you’re never going to be perfect. Ever.
No one is.
And, what is perfection anyway? We have these ideas in our heads of how we’re supposed to be, or what we’re supposed to do, or what life is supposed to look like.
But, why? Who said? And, why did we automatically listen?
And, the irony is that through striving so relentlessly for this unattainable perfection, we keep ourselves from actually achieving a lot of the good that would make us genuinely happy.
Perfectionism is one of the most stifling, limiting tendencies we can have, because it blocks us. It keeps us from attempting anything big or great, because we’re worried that if we can’t do it perfectly, we might as well not do it at all. We become terrified of failure. And, we become immobilized. We can’t even begin to contemplate how to move forward, because it all just feels like too much pressure to even start.
You’re never going to be perfect. And, that’s not a bad thing. Understanding this is actually a really good thing. Because, then you’ll see, that your best is really, truly, always, good enough.
5. Criticizing yourself. All of the time.
We worry so much about what other people think of us, and we take it so personally when someone criticizes us, but we’re actually so much worse to ourselves than anyone else would ever be. We’re mean, we’re cruel, and we’re often, belittling.
Just pay attention to your thoughts when you think you’ve made a mistake, or when someone doesn’t text you back immediately, or when you try to go for something you really want and get a critique, or a suggestion, or a rejection. Notice the thoughts that begin to catapult through your mind.
Self-criticism also happens in small things all day, every day. We’re never good enough. We’re never living up to our potential. We could always do more. We could always be better. There’s always some area in which we can’t quite measure up. Always some way in which we’re lacking.
This mentality is so pervasive that it seems like the norm. Which is sad. And, it’s also harmful, but, we can’t even see what’s happening, because we’re so used to treating ourselves like this.
You need to know that you’re doing the best you can. In every moment. You’re always doing the best you can.
So, be kind to yourself. And, be gentle. Understand that you’re trying.
Most of what holds us back in life are our own thoughts and beliefs, and the reason it’s so difficult to understand this, is because we’re so used to thinking and believing them. We don’t understand that we can separate from them.
But, in order to be happy, you have to separate from the beliefs that limit you. And you have to be willing to let go of the stuff that’s not serving you.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And, it’s the only thing that’s really going to help you live the kind of life you want to live.
What are your thoughts? Do you have these kinds of thought patterns? Do you find it difficult to let go of them?
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! And, let me know if you have any questions!