The end goal in life for most people is to be happy. But how can you enjoy life when you are self-sabotaging your own happiness?
Whether it’s being successful, finding the perfect career, finding a partner or even a best friend, they all lead back to one goal: happiness.
When it comes to our own happiness, we can be our own worst enemies and not even realise it.
Recognising your negative, self-sabotaging habits and changing these around can have a huge impact in the positivity you are trying to bring into your life.
So, without further ado, here are 20 different ways that you may be self-sabotaging your own happiness and how you may go about overcoming them.
There may be more, or you may only recognise one. But just by identifying your actions, you are one step closer to being happy 🙂
You don’t believe in yourself
Believing in yourself has a lot more power than you may realise. It can be the difference between what you have in your life and what you don’t.
Believing in yourself can be so difficult. We are conditioned to feel unworthy, not good enough and to doubt our abilities.
Some scientists used to believe that as humans, we respond to outside information. We are a product of our environment, which means we feel as worthy as society says we are.
But interestingly, scientists later discovered that our brains also respond to our previous experiences to determine what will happen. This means we also rely on past failures to determine our future.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We do not have to put the negative, limited beliefs on ourselves that the same thing or a bad thing may happen. A small amount of fear of failure is normal, but it shouldn’t stop you from believing in yourself or from being happy.
“Start believing in yourself, good things will follow.”
If you believe in yourself and hold your head high, you are opening yourself up to more, positive opportunities.
- Believe it can be possible, regardless of what has happened in the past, or what anyone else thinks.
- Act as if you are on the path to happiness. Not necessarily ‘fake it until you make it’, but with a positive, ‘I will’ attitude, you are much more likely to be more confident and take action.
- Visualise your dreams. Picture what it will look and feel like it when you DO succeed.
- Take action. The most important aspect of pretty much anything. You can believe it and visualise it as much as you like, but until you take action, nothing will happen.
You listen to the voices inside your head
Do you have an insistent nag who tells you you can’t do it? The sole purpose of this voice is to put you down and tell you that you’re not good enough.
It would be too easy to just say: stop listening to it and get on with your life. But we all know it’s a lot more difficult than that. The voice started off as comfort, a friend. But now it’s your worst enemy.
- Listen and try to understand your inner critic, rather than reject it.
- Listen to what it’s saying. Is it trying to tell you something? Are you scared? Worried?
- Observe what it has to say, but know that it isn’t the be all end all.
- Take a deep breathe and focus on your breath.
That inner voice is what some may call your ‘Ego’. Your conditioned Self. The Self that is bound to the social contract, labels, opinions, judgements and everything in between.
From the wise words of Eckhart Tolle, observe the voice of your Ego. Don’t try to ignore it, but listen to what it’s telling you. By creating space between you and your Ego, you are not feeding it and giving it more power. You are essentially saying, ‘thank you for your thoughts, but I will proceed how I wish to proceed’.
Take in what your inner critic was telling you and tell yourself something positive. You CAN do this, you ARE capable, you ARE strong, you ARE happy.
“Letting go of your inner critic can feel uncomfortable but it’s in the discomfort that new patterns are born.” – Athena Laz
You listen to friends and family who do not believe in you
Friends and family are often the closet people we have in our lives, but what do we do when they don’t believe in us?
Sometimes, the people close to you don’t realise just how much they are effecting YOUR happiness.
The people closest to us may put us down because they care, they’re protective and don’t want to see you hurt. Some people, however, don’t want to see you succeed, “do better” than them, be skinnier than them, be happier than them, for example.
If it was easy to just cut them out of your life, we would have all done that by now and not have this problem. But unfortunately, it’s not.
- Remember that it’s their issue, not yours. Some people go on the defence because they themselves are struggling with something, for example, insecurity. It doesn’t make it right, but know that it just comes from a bad place, not them personally.
- Know that you can do it with or without them, you don’t NEED their support. You can’t please everyone and sometimes you have to put yourself first. You have the power to choose who you listen to, and whose opinion to take with a pinch of salt.
- Have a conversation with your friend or family member and understand why they do not believe in you and where it is coming from. They may not understand what you are trying to achieve. By simply having a conversation with someone, can take any confusion out of a situation.
Remember to be strong and do what is best for you. It might be best to NOT give as much detail to some family members, or only tell the people you know will support you.
Ultimately, it’s your life and your choice to make.
And to be truthful, if they are that toxic, should they really still be in your life?
“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” ~Theodore Roosevelt
You are afraid you might fail
Failure is hard. It can be embarrassing and can be a complete knock on our confidence.
Change, risk and uncertainty are also hard. Taking a risk which may lead to failure can be scary. You may be saying to yourself “it’s more practical to stay where I am”, but if you do, you may never get out of your current situation.
It may feel more rational right now, but why wait until you hit rock bottom, or until it’s too late to want to make a change?
You wouldn’t do it with your work, or limit someone else, so why would you limit yourself?
In today’s world, failure is everything. If something fails, slips up, goes wrong; it’s all over the Media, but not in a good way. It’s never praised, or the valuable lessons learnt from the mistake are not shared.
This leaves people too scared to be put in the same lime light.
Fear of failure is normal, but not when it stops us from living our lives and hindering our happiness. So, no wonder we are afraid to fail, the fear is instilled in our brains. Who wants to put themselves out there if there’s a chance we might fail?
Know that failing is not the be all, end all. There are so many benefits to failing, you just have to have a ‘glass half full’ outlook on life.
- Failing is good experience. Not every situation in life will be perfect, but failing gives you a chance to learn valuable lessons from your mistakes. This in turn will help you to grow in all aspects of your life, for example, as a person, in business, etc.
- Maybe it’s not the goal you need to change, it’s the strategy. If you fail, it’s not necessarily because your goals are unrealistic or you’re not worthy, it just means that route didn’t work and it’s time to look at another. You should never give up! Ask questions like: If it didn’t work the first time, why? What can I do differently?
- It helps to build resilience. We can learn to accept our failures and mistakes, how to overcome them and keep pushing to try again. It makes us stronger and hopefully, allow us to push even more for our dreams!
- It helps us value and be grateful for our journey and how far we have come.
You may not truly succeed if you don’t fail first. Just look at some of the most successful people we know, they have all “failed” at one point.
Failing can be unpleasant, but it’s inevitable. It’s just a small bump in the road, but a helpful, lesson-learning bump! I don’t even like to call it failing, it seems like such a harsh word. The first path didn’t get you there, so you’ll try another until you do!
Just imagine what will happen if you implement the changes and come out stronger… It would feel amazing, right?
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
You’re caught up in the past
Being caught in the past is a lot more dangerous than you may realise. Without thinking, you are producing these irrational thoughts from your past experiences, the experiences of others, labels, judgements, opinions and failures. But you have to remember, that anything that was said and done was in the past. This is now YOUR chance to move on.
Why don’t you look at it this way: prove to yourself you are not these labels, or limiting beliefs you are putting on yourself?
We have all made mistakes, but you need to be able to learn from them and stop holding on to the guilt and the pain. Put yourself first, be compassionate and let go.
Remember, the only time you really have is now.
- Forgive yourself
- Stop trying to control everything
- You’re dependant on other people
- Focus on what’s happening NOW
- Be grateful for what and who you have in your life
- Do what you want to do NOW, not later
Remember, there is no real reason for your past to hold you back, other than the feelings of guilt. Let go, forgive yourself and enjoy your life and the people who surround you now. Don’t let the past take away any more of your happiness. Commit NOW to letting go and forgiving yourself, or others, for past experiences.
“The longer you live in the past, the less future you have to enjoy.”
You procrastinate too much
Ah. Good ol’ procrastination.
It’s not COMPLETELY our fault. The way society and things like technology are rapidly advancing, there are more and more options for any given situation. This is making it harder for any individual to make a decision. Even something as simple as going to town and picking a restaurant to eat from, or a new phone to purchase!
If you are procrastinating, it suggests that you are overwhelmed with options, or limiting yourself and your abilities to do something. This is more likely to occur when tasked with something you don’t like, find difficult or causes you anxiety. Our first instinct is to push it away. This is only temporary, as we put off the situation at hand and end up causing us even more stress.
- If you are presented with several options and you cannot make a decision for the life of you, try writing them down and making a pros and cons list. Figure out the options to the situation, make a decision and put it all away and move on. Making a pros and cons list is a great way to understand the task at hand and justify your reasoning. (You can even just do this on the notes application on your phone!)
- Identify what is preventing you from taking action. Are you doubting your abilities? Acknowledge the limiting self beliefs and know they are only thoughts. Sometimes you need to stop over-thinking and just jump in the deep end.
- Identify the end goal and set micro goals to get you there
- Jump in the deep end
- Work out the pros and cons, then commit
- Give yourself a time limit
- Take action
“Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder” – Mason Cooley
You feel the need to control everything
Control. Such a small, but powerful word.
A lot of problems and frustrations in life can stem from wanting control over a situation. And you may not even realise you’re doing it.
Having control of a situation means security and certainty. Who doesn’t want to know that they are in safer hands than their own?
But, as human beings, how much control do we actually have?
Not much to be honest. Which is why we grab onto and try and control any situation we can, just to bring that security and certainty into our lives in order to make us feel good.
Having constant control of everything…
- Blocks your growth and self-development
- Limits opportunities
It would be too easy to just say let go of control and run with the wind.
We all know it’s not THAT easy to just let go. But you must challenge yourself in order to learn and to flourish. Or, you risk being stuck in the same vicious cycle, constantly self-sabotaging your own happiness.
Know that without letting go, you will always be stuck in the same circle.
Learn to change what you can, surrender what you can’t and be able to identify the difference. To help yourself let loose, ask yourself these questions and apply them to different scenarios:
- Why do you feel the need to control a situation?
- What will you gain from this?
- Consider the concept there is no such thing as full control, how does this make you feel?
Wait until the next time you feel you need to control a situation, stop yourself and take a step back. See what happens when you go with the flow.
- How did this make you feel?
- What did you learn from this?
- Name one positive thing that came from this?
- Name on negative thing that came from this?
- How could change this next time?
- Let go of what you THINK you want, in order to make space for bigger and better things
- Go with the flow
- Try not to plan every second of your life
- Look at every situation as an opportunity
“If you try and control everything, and then worry about the things you cannot control, you are setting yourself up for a a lifetime of frustration and misery.” – Unknown
“You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and let life happen.” – Kody Keplinger
You depend on other people
Do you need someone else in your life to make you happy? If they left you, is that the be all and end all for you?
If so, you may be too dependant on someone, or too dependant on wanting someone in your life.
Know that you are a strong, independent individual. Learning to accept yourself for who you are and being dependent on no one but yourself, will open you up to better and longer relationships with other people. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish. You are still able to care for other people and will actually be able to do it from a better place.
Save yourself first, don’t be the victim. The relationship you have, or want, with other people should reflect the happiness and love you have for yourself.
- Learn to love yourself, and be happy and content with what YOU have
- What are your strengths, what makes you happy, what do YOU enjoy doing?
Make sure you can confidently answer these questions.
If you really struggle, try using daily affirmations to help you on your way. Repeat the following, outloud, at least 3 times in the morning and in the evening (or more if you wish!)
I am happy, I am strong, I am confident, I am independent, I am capable.
You constantly do things you don’t want to do
Are you physically and mentally exhausted from doing the things you don’t want to do?
Do you constantly do what other people want, and forever putting your ideas on the back burner?
Well, today’s the day you STOP.
Relationships are 2 way. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally doing something you don’t want to do; maybe the food shop, or seeing your mother-in-law, for example.
But does it just stop there? Or do you no longer hold control over your life? When was the last time you done something YOU wanted to do?
Remember relationships are about compromise. There is always going to be things you don’t want to do, but are you finding a balance?
- Make time for yourself
- Remember that relationships involve 2 people
- Make compromises
- Don’t settle for just companionship
- Re-evaluate the controlling and toxic people in your life
- Choose where you want to invest your energy
- Know you deserve better and should not feel obliged to do anything
It’s never your fault
Blaming others is easy, and sometimes accurate.
Something may not have been caused by you, but culpability doesn’t change what’s happened. It’s so easy to blame other people for your situation, your unhappiness, your bad habits, your relationships, your lack of trust in others.
No matter what happened, you have to chose how to react and move forward with the situation. You can stay stuck and be angry, upset and wish things were different. Or, you can take responsibility for what happens next.
You are always the victim
A lot of us go through life being a victim. You may well be aware of this, or you may not. Not only do you blame other people, but you are letting past situations or actions be your excuse for the present moment.
Do you find yourself blaming your bad luck, your parents or your genes, for example, when things go wrong?
Supposedly, it’s partly due to our social conditioning, partly because we want attention and partly because, it seems easier at the time.
Being the victim, in a situation, or in life in general will not win you happiness. It will actually, very quickly take it away from you. Playing the victim becomes a vicious game, that can be hard to come out of.
It can be difficult when playing the victim with friends, family and spouses. Acting for a reaction, adapting situations for attention or to excuse you from doing something. It starts off innocent, but it soon becomes a huge part of your life. Your life becomes painful. Full of hurt, pain and constantly being let down.
We sometimes fail to realise that, as adults, we have power over how we react to a situation. As a child, you feel helpless and crave attention. As adults, we can sometimes fall back into this state of mind.
Start to become aware of how you are acting in situations. Are you making them negative, waiting for people to empathise with you, having self-destructive thoughts and feelings?
Change this into power.
You may find it MORE empowering reacting positively, than negatively.
- Identify that inner critic that’s telling you to act, or react in a certain way
- Observe what your inner critic is saying
- Know that you are not helpless
- You are happy, strong and capable
- Know that it’s okay to feel the way you do, it’s normal
- Are your thoughts your TRUE feelings, or is this thought train just habitual?
- Challenge your destructive and victimised thoughts, can you change the current situation?
- Unfortunately, not everything will be “right” “fair” or “appreciated” by everyone, but don’t let this bother you.
You thrive off fixing others
It is truly great wanting to help other people. It’s really empowering and such a wonderful gesture.
But at the same time, you also need to take care of yourself. Helping is amazing, but trying to “fix” or “change” someone else is a different story.
Firstly, you need to help yourself, too. Thriving off helping other people can sometimes be a distraction from helping yourself.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”
Wouldn’t you want to help people to the best of your abilities?
As humans, we are all special and unique.
- Accept people for who they are
- Let go of expectations
- Distinguish your actions; are you helping or fixing?
- Be there for someone, be a friend and listen
- Are you trying to distract yourself from your own problems?
Learn to accept people for who they are and let go of your expectations. Help people by guiding them to be their true selves, happy, confident and live in the moment. Being there for someone, a friend and a listening ear can be more powerful than trying to “fix” them, as you’ll never get there, for them or you.
You constantly compare yourself to others
In the digital age we live in today, comparison is known as the “thief of joy”.
As we scroll through our Facebook and Instagram feeds, loathing at the perfect lives we are seeing others enjoy in the tiny squares, we wish we could just pull our lives together enough to enjoy life a little bit more.
But the ironic thing is, if we just took the time we spend scrolling through social media and went outside, we could do just that.
The thing is, Social Media is a highlight real.
Obsessively scrolling through as soon as you wake up and every spare minute you have during the day comparing yourself and wishing you were them, is the easiest, and probably one of the most common ways to feel bad about yourself.
Everyone looks good, eats healthy, has better stuff than you. Everyone else seems to be more accomplished and has their sh*t together.
It’s becoming more apparent that people now work on Social Media. For some, these posts are their job. They have the TIME and get PAID to pose, cook and eat for Social Media. You very rarely see the bad stuff, or the real stuff. Just the things people want you to see.
It’s hard to stop though. By continuing to get sucked into the life of others on social media, inevitably leads you to feeling inferior, inadequate and jealous. It leaves you moping around, not seeing the point of life. “Life goals” are so far away, there’s no point in even trying.
By comparing yourself to others, you are making yourself unhappy and more importantly, putting your focus on the wrong life. Remember you are seeing the result, not the effort behind it. Some people work very hard to get that one perfect picture. Plus, everyone is on their own journey and at different stages!
- Remember what you see is the highlights of people’s lives
- Cut down your scrolling time
- Look at their posts and their “takeaway” from it, use it as motivation to go out and live your life
- Remember you are on different stages of your life
- Remember you are unique
- Channel your energy and focus on YOUR life, no one else
- Just be YOU and let go of other expectations, because that will bring you the most joy
You worry too much about what other people think of you
We are hard wired to impress people. A lot of the things we do, we look to others for approval or justification for our actions.
All while that can be a great confidence boost, everyone is different. But we don’t take this into consideration when looking for approval.
Whether you do it consciously or unconsciously, the way people react, or think of you has an impact on how you feel.
Sometimes it can go too far. It can lead to fear of not doing anything, incase you are negatively judged for it.
The truth is, no matter what you do, someone will always have an opinion, good or bad. But you need to remember that other peoples views are not important, if what you’re doing doesn’t hurt anyone and it makes you happy.
If they are older, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have more experience, if they are friend or family, they may try to protect you, if they are more successful than you, they may want to try and help you.
Whether someone has a positive or negative opinion of your actions, ultimately, the only ones that matter are yours. Do what is right for you.
You have to do everything yourself
Do you find it impossible to ask for help?
Do you want your friends and family to know how strong and independent you are?
That’s completely understandable. There is nothing wrong with being a strong, independent individual. But there is also nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it, especially if it’s standing in the way of your own happiness.
We encourage self-sufficiency and view asking for help as a sign of weakness. We avoid being vulnerable, even infront of those we love. But this shouldn’t be the case. (Thankfully, with the rise in awareness around mental health problems, there is a huge push for people to ask for help.)
- Be strong and know that asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness
- Don’t let the fear of asking for help, stop you from being happy
- Speak to the right people, not just people who are convenient
- You may not get the reaction you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying
You’re not grateful for what you have
It’s hard in today’s world to not want the next best thing. A new phone, a new laptop, a new purse. We live in a commercialised society whereby our happiness and worth is judged by the money in the objects we own.
It’s easy to put our focus in what we don’t have, and what next best thing could make us happy.
We spend days, months, years searching for happiness, when actually, it’s right infront of us.
We have so many great things in our life to be grateful for.
- Stop putting all your energy in your problems
- Stop and appreciate the little things in life, the good things (your family, your friends, your pets, the trees, the clouds)
- Take more notice of nature, the smell, the sounds, the sights you see
“You see what you look for”
You struggle to see the positive side of things
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”
Good and bad things happen every day, it’s inevitable. It’s normal that we perceive situations as being positive and negative, it’s part of being human.
But sometimes, we start to see every single thing as negative, a huge hinderance or inconvenience.
We go from seeing bad situations like a job loss, an illness or a breakup as negative (which is understandable), to seeing everything else (that may not be so bad) as a problem.
It’s like a domino effect, but on our life.
Work, exercising, eating, cooking, getting stuck in traffic, getting up in the morning, someone is chewing loud, you have to do the washing, your friend bailed, you made a mistake, etc. all become a huge weight on your shoulders.
But how do you stop seeing the negative in everything, when everything just seems so bad?
Take a step back and look at the situation objectively. Is it life changing? Is it an opportunity? Is it something that has to be done? Can you change the outcome?
You may not have the power to the change the situation, but you certainly have the power to choose how you react. You can accept it, look at it is an opportunity (or just something that needs to be done, like the washing!) and get on with it.
You see, it’s not things that upset us, it’s our judgements and perceptions. Take a step back for just a moment and look at the situation as it is, without labelling it good or bad. Sometimes we are not able to change the situation infront of us, but we can certainly choose how we react. We can try and improve the situation and see it as an opportunity, or we can see it as a bad situation, the end of the world and make ourselves (and even others!) suffer unnecessarily.
This, of course, is hard to apply where there is a really emotional, life changing situation at hand. It cannot be quickly dealt with and move on, but it’s still important to choose how you react. If you have lose your job, or a friend has fallen ill, rather than being negative about it, you can choose to change how the moment unfolds. The only time we have is now, so would you rather try and improve the situation, like find a new job or support your friend (or their memory)?
Doesn’t that sound just a little more pleasant?
It can be hard at first, when you are sad and feeling stuck, to pull yourself out of the rut. But start small. Laugh at the fact you dropped your coffee down your white shirt and be grateful you have clean clothes back at home (the home that keeps you warm at night!). Sometimes it can be hard to find the sunshine, but you can be and create the sunshine, instead.
- Change your perspective and look at things objectively, without a label.
- Look for the positive, or the opportunity in a situation. x was meant to happen, but instead y happened, so now I will do z instead.
Sometimes we just need things to be a certain way, but they aren’t what we expected, especially if it catches us off guard. We don’t like the lack of control.
But can can have control… over what happens next.
You don’t give yourself enough credit
We all have goals and aspiration, and it can be a horrible feeling when you know you are so far away from your goal. Whether it’s a career, weight loss, or just to live a happy life…..
In order to achieve your goals, you have to start somewhere right?
Celebrating the little things is great for motivation, as well as in general, they deserve to be celebrated!
Try taking a step back and ask yourself, what have you done today that is working towards your goals?
Did you get out of bed this morning? Did you workout? Did you plan an article for your blog?
Celebrate every small thing, because you are amazing! You should give yourself the credit you deserve. For breathing, getting up in the morning, going to work, making a great meal, working out, writing an article, taking a bath.
No matter how big or small, celebrating the wins can be great for moral, motivation and just an all round happy life!
You wrote the book of excuses
I am the BIGGEST culprit for this one.
I’m the type of person who likes to make people happy and help people. I have this really bad habit of opening my big mouth and offering something I don’t even mean or can do, in order to help or make the other person happy.
This then results in me frantically, days before my commitment, thinking of an excuse NOT to do it.
And it’s weird because, it’s not even like I don’t want to do it. I think it has become more of a habit than ignorance. It has become a part of my life I am trying to change. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, hanging up the washing, working out or writing, I seem to have an excuse (no matter how good or bad it is!) for everything.
I didn’t even realise how bad this got until I heard myself using the same lame excuses over and over again, and getting no where!
Be honest with yourself, rather than lie to yourself. If you don’t want to do something, or you are too tired to do it, know that it’s ok.
On the other hand, there are things that need doing and there is no reasonable explanation to repeatedly not doing it. You need to determine the difference between not wanting to do it and putting something off.
You will not always be motivated to do something, but you it’s good to have a little discipline to get things done!
You’ll be happy when…..
I think we are all guilty of this one. I’ll be happy when I lose weight, I’ll be happy when I get a new job, I’ll be happy when I’ve been on holiday, I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank). Sound familiar?
It’s a trap.
One that most of us fall in, to be honest. It’s not because there is something wrong with us, but because we are all under the false pretence that happiness is a ‘thing’.
Just know that no external factor will bring the internal state you are looking for. Happiness is a feeling from within, that cannot be bought with holidays, weight loss or new things. Admittedly, there may be a temporary feeling of happiness, but how long does that last until you are waiting for the next thing to make you happy?
- Live in the present moment
- Be grateful for what you have right now (friends, family, a roof over your head, food)
- Choose happiness
Remember, happiness is made and not found.
Self-sabotaging your own happiness is not something you can easily stop. We are conditioned this way, it’s a process. But we CAN learn to take less notice of our conditioned self, our inner critic and put our energy in the moment and positivity.
You can’t ALWAYS be happy, but there are certainly changes you can make to stop self-sabotaging your own happiness and enjoy life a bit more.
Are you making positive changes in your life?