Our past can undercut our present happiness, leaving us feeling anxious, unsatisfied, angry, and even depressed. Some of us consciously believe we are not worthy of happiness, while others hold these beliefs deep in the unconscious. Whether or not we are aware of the belief that we don’t deserve happiness, the result is the same: corrosion of quality of life.
Giving up on the Pursuit of Happiness
Most people desire happiness. Yet many have let go of the hope for a happy life. Some remember the exact day and time they let go of optimism. Maybe it was after a traumatic event or a colossal disappointment that shifted their axis. Others may have always had a vague feeling of discontent. No matter the level of insight we have into our state of mind, those who have given up on the pursuit of happiness tend to sabotage all feelings of joy or contentment experienced.
What does this type of sabotage look like? Often, it manifests as a steady state of anxiety, with no clear source. For some, it may mean talking about passions but never pursuing them. Others might experience feelings of chronic depression as a result of self-sabotaging behaviors.
Common Ways in Which We Hijack Happiness
There are countless ways to sabotage our happiness in day to day life. Often, people employ more than one method. As you read about some of the common ways in which we prevent ourselves from being happy, ask yourself if any of these apply to you or someone you love.
Constant Criticism of Self Keeps Happiness at Bay
Reinforcing a critical self-image is a primary way in which we thwart our own happiness. We do this by engaging in perfectionism and holding ourselves to impossible standards – basically engaging in lose-lose situations over and over.
Each time we attempt but don’t reach a lofty goal, the feeling of failure is reinforced and magnified. If you keep telling yourself that you’ll never succeed or that you’ll never be good enough, you’re setting yourself up for long-term unhappiness. If your happiness is based on achieving perfection, your successes will be very few.
Sabotaging Happiness With Guilt and Shame
Not allowing ourselves to feel pleasure or joy is another way in which we sabotage happiness. For instance, do you automatically feel anxious or guilty when you feel excitement or elation? Often, when we feel like we are unworthy of happiness, feeling joyful can elicit guilt or shame. Consequently, we tend to hijack our happiness with negative self-talk, ultimately forbidding ourselves from feeling peaceful and carefree.
Survivor’s Guilt Can Keep Us From Wanting to Be Happy
Survivor’s guilt is a psychological condition that occurs when someone survives a traumatic and/or life-threatening event, while others did not. Subsequently, an individual can feel guilt for having survived, believing they don’t deserve to be alive or coping so well when so many others didn’t make it or are still struggling. Survivor’s guilt can happen after a natural disaster, or as a result of a plane or vehicle accident. This type of guilt is often accompanied by post-traumatic stress.
Neutralizing and Counteracting the Ways in Which We Sabotage Our Own Happiness
As you may have guessed, the reasons we sabotage our own happiness usually involve unresolved pain. The good news is that there are ways to counteract these behaviors. Here are some tips for healing unresolved hurt and allowing happiness to renter your life:
- Realize that you did the best you could at the time: self-criticism comes from your emotional mind, but it is within your power to harness your rational mind to change how you think. Practice thinking and telling yourself that you did the best you could in whatever situation is still troubling you. Over time, you can rewrite the story that has been keeping you down.
- Make amends: seek closure to unhealed hurt, guilt, or regret. This could mean reaching out to those with whom you have unresolved issues, or perhaps to someone you feel you have wronged, in order to clear the air. If this person is no longer alive, write a cathartic letter in which you record everything you want to say to them.
- Seek professional help: directly treat any symptoms of grief, anxiety, depression, and so on, by consulting with a medical and/or mental health professional. Only a health care expert can accurately diagnose your symptoms. Once you understand what you are dealing with, you can work as a team towards appropriate treatments that can help you live your best life once again.
Don’t Hesitate to Get the Help You or a Loved One May Need
Lifelong recovery is possible. All you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery is a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility, founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive, provided they are offered the right support.
Our experienced professional staff is committed to supporting each of our clients by working with them to create unique treatment plans that best suit their recovery goals. We offer individualized tiered programs to ensure our clients receive the correct level of care at each stage in their recovery, all the while providing guidance as they navigate their path to happiness. To learn more about our services, call us at (800) 673-0176.