How to Stop Self-Sabotage and Live a Happier Life

by | May 13, 2024 | Life Lessons

Are you constantly worrying about things you can’t control, or feeling like you can’t enjoy moments of happiness without waiting for the other shoe to drop? If so, you may be sabotaging your own happiness without even realizing it. In this article, we explore four common self-sabotaging behaviors and provide practical strategies for overcoming them and living a happier life. 

Allow yourself to be happy. That seems like a strange thing to say. But it’s necessary because you just might be sabotaging your happiness. And if you are, it’s time to stop doing that.

Before you say it, I know happiness is fleeting. No one is happy all the time, but that’s even more reason to allow ourselves to feel happy as often as possible. I’ve thought about this for a while because I realize I undermine my own happiness. And I’m willing to bet you do, too—unknowingly, of course. The good news is that once we know better, we can do better.

Four Ways You Might Be Self-Sabotaging Your Happiness

None of us intends to make ourselves unhappy. We want to live happy lives. But sometimes, our mindsets and actions don’t align with our desires. We self-sabotage our happiness. Here are four ways you may be undermining your happiness and steps you can take to address them:

1. Worrying About Things You Don’t Control.

This is a big one for me, as I’m prone to worrying. Worrying involves spending time and energy fretting over outcomes and aspects of life that are beyond our influence and decision-making power. Constant worry about things we don’t control can lead to significant stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.

“There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.” ~ Dan Harris, 10% Happier

Strategy. Practice mindfulness and acceptance. Mindfulness meditation can help bring the focus back to the present and reduce anxiety over outcomes you don’t control.

2. Foreboding Joy.

This is the fear of fully embracing moments of happiness because of a belief that something terrible must be right around the corner. It’s essentially waiting for the other shoe to drop whenever things seem to be going well.

“When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability—it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience. When we can’t tolerate that level of vulnerability, joy actually becomes foreboding, and we immediately move to self-protection. It’s as if we grab vulnerability by the shoulders and say, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker-punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.” ~ Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

Strategy. Embrace vulnerability. Brown suggests that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable can help you experience joy more fully, without fear. Sharing your feelings with others who may feel the same can alleviate your burden. Another way to counteract foreboding joy is to practice gratitude. Regularly noting the things you’re grateful for can help you to stay in the present moment, fully embracing the positive aspects of your life and reducing the impulse to anticipate disaster.

3. Resisting Change.

To resist change is to oppose or struggle against alterations in our environment, circumstances, or personal life. Resistance to change stems from a desire to keep things status quo and predictable – again, a form of control. The toll of resisting change is more than we can bear.

“Most suffering comes from the failure to adapt and a resistance to change.” ~ Debasish Mridha

Strategy. Develop flexibility and adaptability. Take small steps outside your comfort zone to gradually build your tolerance for change. Seek support from others who have navigated similar changes or consider a coach or therapist to help you develop coping skills.

4. Lack of Social Connections.

Isolating ourselves or not investing in meaningful relationships can lead to loneliness and a lack of support, which are vital for happiness. Strong social connections provide support, love, and a sense of belonging.

“We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.” ~ The Dalai Lama

Strategy. Make intentional efforts to build and maintain healthy relationships. This could be as simple as reaching out to your friends more often, attending community events, or joining groups or clubs that align with your interests.

With these four strategies, we can stop self-sabotaging our happiness and allow ourselves to enjoy a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

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