I was in a ~9 year relationship with a man whom I deeply loved, but didn’t really like. Don’t get me wrong, he was my best friend and still is, but we were WRONG for each other. Having “invested” all that time, we were convinced we’d get married. But since we weren’t all that compatible, I did what any normal 21-year-old girl would do: I tried to change him.
Sometimes we think that by controlling things we can control our happiness. Whether this be by trying to change others, manipulate a situation, or simply deny our truth, we think that the key to happiness is having power over our environment. After all, if things were different, then we’d be happy, right?
Cue obnoxious buzzer sound: You’re dead wrong.
In my life and my work with clients, I’ve seen a ga-ba-jillion attempts to gain happiness by going outward instead of in. And without fail, it backfires. Yet we keep doing it because we have more faith in our fear than our truth. Sabotaging our happiness by trying to influence our surroundings is more common than we think. In fact, for most of us, it’s part of our everyday lives:
Whether it be in relationships, work, or any other aspect of life, jealousy is less about what the other person has and more about what you perceive you do not. This misplaced anger hurts you more than it helps you to get what you want.
It might seem like holding onto anger will keep you safe from getting hurt again, but it actually weakens you. Forgiveness is a much stronger and healthier “F-Bomb” to drop on those who have wronged you.
4. The need to “fix” people
Even if you could change others, you still wouldn’t be happy. Why? Because it’s not them you’re trying to fix. Accept others for where they are in their journey. This doesn’t mean accept all the crap that comes your way. Quite the opposite. If a toxic person is bringing you down, trying to change them would be like swimming with an anchor, you’ll only sink faster. Change what you can control: You. That means adjust your expectations or let them go.
It’s great to strive to do your best, but if your happiness is dependent on the outcome, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. Whether it be your work, your art, or your love, nothing is perfect. This symptom of black and white thinking is often what holds us back from taking initial action or being happy with the end result.
If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t. Whatever limits you perceive are the ones you’ve placed on yourself. Consciously or unconsciously, it’s a choice.
7. The belief that you’re better than
The moment you think you’re above anyone or anything is the moment you prevent yourself from learning. It’s ironic. If you think you are done learning, you’re right.
So what gives? Why do we go outward instead of inward? Cause it’s freakin’ scary as hell! Our ego has us convinced that we’re separate, that it’s all a big game of “me against the world.” The problem is that just like a muscle, every time that we address our issues externally instead of internally, we strengthen our belief in fear. The solution is simple: Change what you can, surrender what you can’t, and know the difference.
What can you surrender to start being happy today?