How many times have you read this on the internet- “You are your own source of happiness”. And how many times have you rolled your eyes after reading this? No? Okay only me then. I was sceptical of this line for a very long time until I started therapy. It was surprising how shifting my tiny beliefs and behaviour around little situations in my life completely changed my personality and brought so much peace. Although it’s a never-ending path, I’m always learning new things about myself and the world around me and it’s always astounding. And deciding to pause on my dating life and start working on myself has proved to be one of the greatest gifts I’ve given to myself. So when I finally thought I am ready to enter the dating world, I was expecting only success, how naive of me!
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a huge wake-up call and made me question everything (I question everything at all times, NBD) I was doing at that time. After a lot of tears, a never-ending pit in my stomach and innumerable calls to my girlfriends I concluded- “I am the one who is making my own life miserable”. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has been doing this for a very long time. So I have a little thesis for you to understand where this is coming from and how can we change together.
• We create our own little rules/compulsions:
Any living person lives by its values, rules or compulsions. Where they come from? Mostly childhood. We see our parents, we see people around us, how they perceive society, the environment around us, their rules and values and we make it our own. We form beliefs at such a young age that sometimes it takes a lifetime to change those beliefs, replace them with healthy ones. Many a time people are so blinded by their own little rules that they cannot see how others can see things completely different from them. These rules very easily become compulsions which can further lead to mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. Like for example, with my anxiety I had convinced myself that every person I met should like me, I would bend myself into a pretzel, never say no to them, turn out to be people pleaser and make sure that they like me, and when they didn’t my whole belief system would come crashing down. Another few examples would be-
1. If I don’t earn a certain amount that means I’m not successful.
2. If I am still single in my 30s that means something is wrong with me
3. If I don’t have more than x number of friends then I’m just a plain loser.
4. If I’m not responsible, mature, and calm at all times then I’m a bad daughter.
5. If I don’t look a certain way then I’m not lovable/desirable.
You get the gist of it. These thoughts/beliefs came from my childhood, society, social media, and comparing myself with other people. But the biggest work here was to be aware and figure out that I even had such compulsions that were eating me up from inside and making me very much miserable.
• We keep trying to prove our worth:
When I realized how much I was living by my rule book I decided to stop. That’s sane advice anyone would give you right? “If you know what you’re doing wrong just don’t do it”, “if you have anxiety just calm down”, “if you have depression just stop being sad”. And it’s the most useless advice and you already know it. So I took a step back and observed myself in the third person (by deleting social media, meditating, journaling, painting, reading books, going alone on walks, etc). It eventually dawned on me how much hard I keep trying to impress everyone around me, I am constantly trying to prove to guys how cool and amazing I am, I’m proving to my co-workers how much skilled I am, I’m proving to my family how responsible and matured I am, I’m 24×7 trying to prove it on Instagram how creative I am. And it seemed I needed approval, validation and appreciation from everyone and everything. That’s impossible to live with. If I line up all my past achievements and put them on the table for me to see them I can’t deny that I am already all of those things and I don’t need to prove it to anyone. It was more of self-doubt than it was seeking validation.
• We idealise ourselves and our life too much:
Our culture gives us this idealised version of a person and how his life is supposed to be. It tells us anything that’s beyond it is wrong. And we blindly accept it at a young age because we didn’t know better. I had idealised my self to be this nice, calm, talented girl and anything that tells me otherwise I would discard it. But is it humanely possible to be nice and calm all the time? It means I can’t say no to people, I can’t be angry, I can’t be disappointed. I must be productive at all times and make money and get results or how else will I be worth anything? Do you see the loophole in the idealised version of me? It’s imaginary. The same goes with my idealised life, having x number of friends, partying every weekend, vacationing every other month, finding the love of my life, etc. will only make me happy. We see other people living like this, and we think that’s the only way to happy and content but it’s not. Petting a cat in the street makes me happy, watching a movie changes my mood, talking to a friend makes me content. My life is not a movie, neither I’m some influencer. It gets pretty boring some days and that’s completely okay.
When I stopped playing by my rule book and started allowing myself to be more of a flawed human, it felt like a huge amount of weight had been taken off my shoulders, and I was free. So, when you let go off things that define you, that story you keep telling to yourself (about yourself), is the moment when you’ll start seeing things differently. You can be anything you want to be, and it can be different each day, and that’s the best part. Do yourself a favour and make a list of your rules that are stopping you from being free and joyful, see if they hold any truth or validity, if they are coming from a reliable source, do they align with the person you want to be. Your future self will thank you.
TLDR: being miserable is extremely easy. You just accept and let everything and everyone mould you the way they want. It takes some effort and a little courage to keep the key of your happiness in your hand. Yeah I know, I’m agreeing with the most clichéd quote from the internet that “You’re responsible for your own happiness”.