How to Find Happiness
Here is a list of 15 things, which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them.
1. Give up your need to always be right
There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question:
“Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer.
What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?
Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?
2. Give up your need for control
Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu
3. Give up on blame
Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.
Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk
Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle
5. Give up your limiting beliefs
Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind.” Elly Roselle
Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do.
6. Give up complaining
Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
7. Give up the luxury of criticism
Give up your need to criticise things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.
8. Give up your need to impress others
Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.
We are all different, yet we are all the same.
9. Give up your resistance to change
Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell
10. Give up labels
Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different, and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open.
“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer
11. Give up on your fears
Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it.
12. Give up your excuses
Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.
13. Give up the past
I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all, life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.
Life is a journey not a destination.
14. Give up attachment
This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at it with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another, attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and selfless, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist), you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations
Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need…. and eventually they forget about themselves. You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.
Often we think that forgiveness is something we do for someone else, but actually forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. Because it takes more energy to hold onto hurt, guilt, anger, resentment than it does to forgive. When we forgive, we experience peace of mind and free ourselves to move on and move forward.
Have you ever thrown dirty looks at a parent whose child is throwing a tantrum? Stared in horror as someone bites into a greasy cheeseburger? Nodded mutely at a friend's tale of career/relationship/family woes and thought she was making a crazy choice?
We've all been there. Frankly, anyone who says they haven't been judgmental is probably lying or in denial, since few of us are so self-evolved that we don't pass judgment on others.
In fact, it's often healthy foodies who are some of the worst offenders. A research study recently found that people exposed to pictures of organic food made harsher moral judgments than those who were shown photos of comfort or neutral foods.
The thing is, being judgmental is not a behaviour that serves us. Let's face it: we judge others because we need to feel better about ourselves. It may make us feel superior or secure in the short-term, but the long-term stress of never feeling good enough can lead to a host of health issues.
Being non-judgmental, can lead to lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses.
Here are some signs to look out for:
1. You believe that everyone is out to get you.
2. You expect other people to be consistent all the time.
3. You struggle to see beyond a person’s flaws.
4. You easily skip to conclusions.
5. You struggle to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.
6. You’re intolerant of people unlike you.
7. You’re generally pessimistic about life.
8. You tend to believe people are either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
9. You struggle to truly appreciate or see the beauty in others.
10. You have low self-worth.
11. You feel anxious around other people.
12. You’re suspicious and untrusting.
13. You have a strong inner critic who judges you.
So here are a few handy ways to tame the judgment.
Your self-talk involves all the thoughts you have about yourself in waking reality. Take some moments during the day to tune into what types of thoughts you’re having. Good opportunities to do this often happen while interacting with others, going to work, looking at yourself in the mirror, or making a mistake. You can also use your emotions to hook yourself into your inner talk. Whenever you’re feeling upset, depressed, insecure, or anxious, try to pause and focus on your inner talk. What thoughts or assumptions are behind your feelings?
Next, in a journal, record your self-talk. Do this every day, without fail! Try to find common themes or patterns that reveal your underlying core beliefs. For example, you might discover that you often think about how “stupid,” ugly, worthless, or weird you are. These beliefs will give you something to work with.
Easier said than done, right? But by slowly and steadily working to accept yourself, you become less critical of others as well. Self-acceptance is about honouring and allowing space for all that it means to be human. Instead of putting yourself up to high standards, self-acceptance is about realistically looking at yourself, understanding why you are the way you are, and embracing who you are at a core level.
Some powerful places to start with self-acceptance include:
Commit to any number of these practices every day and you will begin to see the results soon.
Everybody feels anxious at some point in their lives; starting a new job, trying to impress a date, sitting an exam, we expect to feel agitated and nervous, the butterflies fluttering in our stomachs. But for those or panic disorders such feelings are much stronger and more frequent. There is usually a sense of danger or threat, of not being able to cope with what might happen. Or it could be more of an ‘irrational’ fear - a “what if” – or what some people call that can take in every catastrophe imaginable.
And anxiety is more common and harmful than we may want to admit, according to the findings of a major University of Cambridge report, published in the medical journal Brain and Behaviour. More than 8 million people in the UK suffer some sort of and women and people under 35 are especially affected.
We viscerally , just as our ancestors did, when hunting for food was a life-threatening excursion. These days the most dangerous thing most of us do is drive a car but our brains will still default to “fight, flight or freeze” when faced with danger and that’s what causes our cortisol levels to rise to unhealthy levels.
“These reactions are instinctive,” “they aren't the result of conscious thought.” But the symptoms feel very real. People suffering from often experience irritability, dizziness, nervousness and sleep badly; they may get breathless, sweaty, shake and have nausea and diarrhoea as their bodies respond to the cortisol washing through them. At work they might steer clear of any chance of confrontation, or shy away from taking on anything difficult in case they fail. Socially they may opt out of arrangements at the last minute, assuming that no one will want to talk to them.
People can also end up simply ‘fearing the fear’. Some clients who are doing well with their therapeutic treatment but can’t stop themselves thinking: what will happen if the anxiety returns? “This type of anxiety is actually the most threatening of all because it often appears when everything seems positive, and as such it can be extremely destabilising.”
Until now conversations around mental health have tended to focus on depression, but the report last week, which was a review of 48 studies from across the world suggested anxiety could be a much bigger problem. The US scored the highest number of people - 8 in 100 - while in East Asia the figure was 3 in 100. It found that more than 60 million people were affected by anxiety disorders every year in the EU.
People with anxiety tend to be hyper-vigilant to negativity and worry excessively about the future whereas those with depression tend to dwell on bad things about themselves. Many researchers now believe that a lack of dopamine – linked to reward and pleasure – is related to depression, but not anxiety.
But the big question is why it is becoming such an issue now, specifically affecting those born since 1980. One theory is that we are while we are digitally connected, we are less connected to each other. Daily life is also less communal and collaborative particularly when compared with life a few hundred years ago. And yet, we all want to be accepted and liked. Being excluded from a group to which they want to belong is a real terror for many young people today. Millennials may call it FOMO (fear of missing out) but it is also fear of being left out.
Added to this are millennials’ fears about the future: will they be able to find a good job, afford to live independently, buy their own homes, so they too can have marriages and families like their parents did?
So what can be done to alleviate anxiety? Therapy. It isn’t always comfortable or easy, but it certainly helps people to find a happier place.
NICE recommends that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is suitable treatment for people with anxiety or panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). But this is largely because CBT is the style of therapy that has the best research data behind it. The Counselling Directory statistics on mental health say that anxiety is the most frequently stated problem by people seeking therapists, and many different types of therapists and counsellors treat people - adolescents and adults - for anxiety and panic disorders. As one therapist told me ironically, “It’s anxiety-depression - almost one word, and it’s everywhere.”
But if weekly therapy sessions are not for you, there are many small changes that can help move the dial on your anxiety.
Also take a hard look at your diet and exercise regime. Australian clinical psychologist Dr Lynette Roberts at the UTS Graduate School of Health in Sydney said this week, ”There is a lot to suggest that imbalances in gut bacteria are linked with changes in mood and behaviour. Studies involving probiotics are already showing they can arrest the thought processes that make people more vulnerable to mood disorders.”
Exercise is another good defence often lessening the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. And that’s just what’s available now.
There may be more anxiety about, but we are constantly coming up with new ways to combat it. The important thing is: if you don’t deal with it, anxiety can be seriously life-limiting, and that’s no fun at all.
From avoiding threats and promises to fostering good sleeping habits and banning screens at bedtime helping your teenagers to revise is a challenging time for most parents -
‘Revision can become all about the end goal, so all of you may need to remember that learning for its own sake is also a valid pursuit.’
1 Ask if they need help. Help that’s not needed or asked for isn’t about their agenda, it’s about yours.
2 Do not buy books of revision tips and thrust them in front of your child – it’s too late and will just be something else for them to worry about. By all means buy books that help you cope with the runup to exams so you don’t become another source of stress for them, but keep them hidden.
3 Films can ignite interest in a dusty subject as long as they realise that some artistic licence is used. But also search YouTube for good past TV programmes that cover relevant subjects.
4 BBC Bitesize is a brilliant, free online resource: it covers key stage 1 to GCSE (40 subjects at GCSE) and encourages a fresh look at a subject. You can pinpoint weak areas, read about them and then be tested online. The great thing about this website is that your child can also go back over the old ground of previous levels if they need to fill in gaps in their knowledge without looking stupid in front of anyone else.
5 Tear (short) articles out of newspapers that are irrelevant to revision but will make them laugh.
6 A whiteboard is a good thing to buy because there’s something liberating and fun about them. The fact that what’s written on them can easily be rubbed out encourages discussion and silly pictures – great for out-of-context thinking. Get them to teach you (or younger siblings) what they have learned – this is also a good way to find out what they don’t fully understand.
7 Try to encourage out-of-context thinking. A child who learns things by heart but doesn’t really understand what he’s learned won’t be able to answer things they weren’t expecting.
8 Don’t use threats. Teenagers are only too aware that if they fail they may “never get a job” – they don’t need more stress. Remember the encouragement you gave them as toddlers when they did the simplest task? Well, don’t do that either but be a bit more like that. Encourage the effort they are putting in.
9 Revision can become all about the end goal, so all of you may need to remember that learning for its own sake is also a valid pursuit.
10 Don’t promise one big prize at the end of it all, but – if you want to provide incentives – little ones along the way. Although be aware that Alfie Kohn (author on several books about education) says “carrots and sticks reduce people’s interest in whatever they were rewarded/punished for doing”. That said, something to look forward to never made anyone sad.
11 Provide meals at regular times so they have a routine to build their revision round. Don’t be upset if they want to eat while revising if they are on a roll. Vitamin C is said to support the adrenal glands (which take a pounding at stressful times). Don’t forget regular water consumption. Some studies show that water aids concentration. Provide a bottle with a straw – they may be teens but everything tastes better through a straw.
12 Sleep is vital to consolidate what’s been learned during the day. Make sure your teen gets out into the sunlight – this will help to regulate their body clock. Make sure their room is pitch black for sleep – light interferes with melatonin production (the hormone needed for sleep) but blue light – such as that emitted by smartphones and tablets – is especially disruptive so no screens before sleep for an hour is a good rule for winding down.
13 Spread-out revision is more effective but cramming may be all you have got at this stage. Revision can still be divided into 20-minute bursts with 10-minute breaks.
14 If your child gets stressed, respond to the right hemisphere. This half of the brain governs emotional non-verbal thought (the left deals with order and logic), so don’t plough in with practical solutions to an emotional problem. Give them a hug instead and reassure with touch and soothing sounds. You can go on to practical solutions (and appeal to the left side) once they are calm. Equally, if they ask a practical question, don’t respond with a “there, there, it’ll be OK”.
15 If all else fails, exams can be taken again but a child’s self-esteem – if shattered – can take years to rebuild. Be nice to them.
Drawing from over four decades of research data John Gottman has been able categorise couples into five types:
In his book Principe Amoris: The New Science of Love, Gottman uses love equations to explain his discoveries.
The three happy couple types (Conflict-Avoiding, Validating, and Volatile) come from Harold Raush’s landmark book Communication, Conflict, and Marriage, in which Raush analyses interactions between partners to discriminate happily from unhappily married couples. Each type is very different from the others, and each type of couple has its benefits and risks.
Of the two unhappy couple types Gottman has been able to identify in his Love Lab, Hostile couples stayed unhappily married, while Hostile-Detached couples eventually divorced.
Do you know what type you are?
1. Conflict Avoiders
Conflict avoiders minimise persuasion attempts and instead emphasise their areas of common ground. They avoid conflict, avoid expressing what they need from one another, and congratulate their relationship for being generally happy. An important aspect about conflict-avoiding couples is in the balance between independence and interdependence. They have clear boundaries, and are separate people with separate interests.
This is not to denigrate the quality of the areas where they meet and depend on one another. They can be quite connected and caring in those areas of overlap where they are interdependent. While they are minimally emotionally expressive, they maintain a ratio of positive-to-negative affect around five to one. Their SPAFF (Specific Affect Coding System) weighting is not overly positive, but not bad at all. Their interaction is good enough for them.
2. Volatile Couples
Almost the exact opposite of conflict avoiders, volatile couples are intensely emotional. During a conflict discussion, they begin persuasion immediately and they stick to it throughout the discussion. Their debating is characterised by a lot of laughter, shared amusement, and humour. They seem to love to debate and argue, but they are not disrespectful and insulting. Their positive-to-negative ratio? Five to one.
There is a lot of negative affect expressed, including anger and feelings of insecurity, but no contempt. They have no clear boundaries around their individual worlds, and there is enormous overlap. While they have to argue a great deal about their roles, they emphasise connection and honesty in their communication.
3. Validating Couples
The interaction of these couples is characterised by ease and calm. They are somewhat expressive, but mostly neutral. In many ways they seem to be intermediate between avoiders and the volatile couples. They put a lot of emphasis on supporting and understanding their partner’s point of view, and are often empathetic about their partner’s feelings.
They will confront their differences, but only on some topics and not on others. They can become highly competitive on some issues, which can turn into a power struggle. Then they usually calm down and compromise. During conflict, validators are only mildly emotionally expressive. Once again, the ratio of positive-to-negative affect for validators averaged around five to one.
4. Hostile Couples
Hostile couples are like validators, except there are high levels of defensiveness on the part of both partners. In Gottman’s Love Lab, the husband was usually the validator and the wife was the avoider. That was based on influence function shapes.
There was also a lot of criticism, “you always” and “you never” statements, and whining. During conflict, each partner reiterated his or her own perspective. No support or understanding was offered for either person’s point of view. There was lots of contempt. All Four Horsemen were present.
5. Hostile-Detached Couples
These couples are like two armies engaged in a mutually frustrating and lonely standoff. They snipe at one another during conflict, although the air is one of emotional detachment and resignation.
In his Love Lab, usually there was a validator husband with a volatile wife. Escalating conflict will occur between two validators, but then one of them will back down. But will the volatile let the validator withdraw? Absolutely not.
So, why does the hostile-detached couple eventually divorce? Why doesn’t the hostile couple? Could it be that the answer has to do with the second phase of love, the establishment of trust phase? The love equations have an explanation: Hostile couples (validator-avoider) regulate their negativity, while hostile-detached (validator-volatile) couples do not.
I was shown this story recently and I thought it would be good to share it and hopefully it will help others to appreciate what we have.
Welcome to Holland - By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
More people are prone to overthink and analyse than they will readily admit. While sometimes the thorough approach to problems and tasks can be helpful, the mind can race away and starting working against itself and goals.
Not being able to contain one's mind can be scary and detrimental to anyone's life.
Obsessive patterns and non stop analysing can lead to more problems like severe depression and anxiety disorders. Women (57%) are more likely to overthink than men (43%).
The same study showed that overthinking was prevalent in young to middle aged adults. Results showed that a whopping 73% of 23-35 year-olds were identified as over thinkers.
Do You Instinctively Second Or Triple Guess Yourself?
While you have checked your math or reasoning before, you check it again and again. It's almost compulsive, but you are afraid that you made a mistake and don't want to look foolish or let anyone down. Fear of potential failed outcomes drives the person into a panic.
Take deep breaths and grow your awareness of particular stressors that trigger this fear. Do thorough research to combat your irrationality. Fear has trouble standing against fact. Busy yourself with positive activities: creating, sharing, exploring and spending time with loved ones.
Are You Constantly Analysing Everything?
It doesn't matter what it is, or how tired you are, you can't turn your brain off. It picks up anything it can, and immediately starts to dissect and explore it. Even when you don't want to, you have to try to distract it or through tremendous effort stop it momentarily.
Well if you are going to overthink, might as well be productive with it. Set aside time, say fifteen minutes, in which you document the thoughts or speak out loud to yourself. This takes the nervous/fearful energy and habit and transforms it into a positive and productive one.
Do You Usually Take Things Personally?
You try your best all the time and try to account for everything. When something slips through the cracks you find yourself on the defensive, even when unprovoked. Even when you know the person doesn't mean to be insulting or rude, any offhanded comment or criticism is taken as an affront.
Are You A Perfectionist?
Everything has to be your definition of perfect. It has to look like, work like, act like, taste like exactly what you envisioned, with out fail. You have no patience for compromise, as you have looked at the issue from every angle and your way is the best way.
Perfection is impossible and the pursuit of the impossible will not fare well for those involved. In small increments, move away from 'This must be perfect', to 'I did my best'.
Does The Uncertainty Of The Future Scare You?
The uncertainty of 'what could be' or 'might be' scares you incredibly badly. It is the reason that you double check everything, and am always on alert. Despite your best efforts, nothing you can do eases the agony of even the slimmest possibilities.
Try this. Anytime you find yourself bogged down in thought, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Focus on nothing but your breath, bringing around a meditative state. Count your breaths, up to ten. Anytime you start wandering into the future, pull your attention back to your breath. You cannot control the future.
Can You Not Detach From Your Thoughts To Sleep At Night?
People have trouble sleeping at night for varied reasons. Your inability stems from the same thing, night after night. You go over and over a past event, problem, future obstacle or emotion. You analyse it incessantly and tirelessly. You even remark to yourself that this process is going nowhere, especially as the night wanes on and you get more tired.
Set aside an hour before you go to bed and write your thoughts down. Feel free to doodle, write fiction or whatever suites you! Burning away some of that energy in an productive and creative way can help relax the mind.
How to Figure Out Your Unmet Needs
If I’ve observed a common thread to many relationship endings it would be women and men not asking for what they need from their friends or romantic partners.
Why We Go Through Life With Unmet Needs
Sometimes we don’t ask because we think it will be less genuine when they actually give it to us, as though their sincerity is linked to their thinking it up on their own.
Sometimes we don’t ask because we think it’s rude or intrusive or needy, as though we’re ignoring the fact that relationships ought to be mutually beneficial.
Sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t like to think of ourselves as ever needing anything, as though we drank our own Cool-Aid in our attempts to convince everyone that we’re amazing and never have any needs.
Sometimes we don’t ask because we fear rejection or don’t want to risk the other saying no, as though there would be no choice in that scenario except to take it personally.
Sometimes we don’t ask because we simply don’t feel worth it, as though we’re not good enough or significant enough to think we deserve to have our needs met.
All of these stories have been modelled to us in different ways, and we certainly each develop a lens that we then use to validate our reason repetitively.
But in addition to all these more deep-rooted belief systems we’ve made up in our heads, I’m finding that one of the biggest obstacles to us asking for what we need is that we often don’t even know what we need.
Figuring Out What We Need
I mean, we know when we start feeling resentful or frustrated, but we aren’t very practiced at pausing and saying, “What is it I need right now?”
And the answer usually isn’t what we think we’re mad at. We think we’re mad at the kids for not picking up their shoes, but really it’s because when they do that we feel something, a meaning that we have attached to that action. So it may be that we need some cooperation so that we feel more connected to the kids, like we’re all working together; or it may be that for our sanity we actually need more order in our lives to contribute to our sense of peace. Two different needs. Stopping to not just be mad at some action, but realising what need isn’t being met helps us better communicate and problem-solve. Is it really a peaceful space I need which I could get by making one room off-limits to the junk of others or by hiring housekeeping help? Or is it feeling like my family is all in it together which can be solved by articulating that need and having the family brainstorm ways that we can each contribute more? What is my need?
In the book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen!, by Shasta Nelson, it discusses the scene from the movie How Do You Know, where Reese Witherspoon plays a character whose entire life is turned upside down when she is cut from the professional softball team that has been her entire career. She obligingly goes to see a therapist but before the session starts she talks herself out of it, willing herself to believe she doesn’t need it. The psychiatrist, who knows nothing about the situation that his new client is struggling with, watches her walk out the door before any conversation occurs. And in what I think is the best scene in the movie, Reese sticks her head back in the doorway and basically challenges him to sum up his best therapeutic advice for life before she leaves. Without batting an eye he responds: “Figure out what you want and learn to ask for it.”
I think about that a lot. When I get upset at someone, I try to stop and think, “What is it I really need? Not just what action do I wish they did right now. But what does that action represent to me? What is it I’m craving and longing for?”
If we would do that, we’d probably realise that half of our needs come down to wanting to feel connected to the other person. Which could then better inform our response because I dare say most of us, when frustrated or hurt, are more likely to respond in some way that will actually leave us feeling more disconnected; in other words, less likely to actually get our needs met.
When we start the work of being responsible for knowing ourselves, it’s helpful to have a list that allows us to try on different words: Is it x or x that resonates more with me? With time, we become more familiar with the options, becoming more adept at naming what we’re craving.
You’ve likely heard a famous quote by Mark Twain “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did...“ But how many of us follow our dreams? More importantly, how many of us regret not following them?
I think most of us will find that we fit into question number two. I know I did.
Until one day I asked myself some serious questions about where I was at in my life journey…
Is this really where I see myself 20 years from now? Do I still feel fulfilled? Am I the person I spent my whole life wanting to be?
Just like that, my entire life changed.
Asking myself questions like these changed the way I perceived myself.
Being confident in your decisions and in your capabilities can play a huge part in avoiding self-doubt and regret. I was already regretting not pursuing my ambitions earlier. At least I finally asked myself the question I needed to, affirmed who I was, where I wanted to be, and acted.
This is how I practice self-affirmation.
However, learning how to stay aligned with your dreams and goals while staying confident can be a serious struggle.
Most of us will be plagued with regrets throughout our life; however, learning how to develop self-affirmation can go a long way in making decisions and living the fulfilling life that isn’t plagued with self-doubt.
What is self-affirmation?
In its simplest form, it is the act of having a positive attitude toward yourself. It is valuing who you are and believing you have a purpose. It’s being confident in you.
However, identifying and practicing self-affirmation can be much more difficult than it sounds.
Thankfully, a few simple questions can help guide us in the right direction and help affirm that we are working towards the life that we have always wanted for ourselves. This means reducing the regrets we may have 20 years down the road.
What questions should we ask ourselves daily?
Now, I’m not suggesting you need to ask yourself each one of these questions every day. However, taking time every day to evaluate how you feel by choosing a few of these questions can help keep your brain be “trained” to think positively.
Doing this daily can wire your thought process towards ambition and fulfillment. It helps keep you focused on who you want to be. It allows you to think positively about yourself and your aspirations.
Out of all of those questions, I recommend asking yourself if you are feeling fulfilled every day. Fulfilment can go a long in self-confidence and optimism.
As for asking yourself some of these questions daily, are you confident in your answers? Are you living up to your potential?
If you are not, maybe it is time to start reavaluating something.