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The idea that we’re self-sabotaging our happiness is kind of soul-crushing, isn’t it?
I mean, I’ve suffered from depression, anxiety and BPD for over a decade so I know just how hard it is to be happy. I know what it’s like to feel as though your brain chemicals are conspiring against you, intent on poisoning every thought and memory you have. I know what it’s like to have no control over your emotions, to slip into suicidal despair just because your mind says so.
To say that I am ‘self-sabotaging’ is depression-inducing enough. Truthfully though, everyone is guilty of self-sabotaging their happiness, mood disorder or not!
What Is Self-Sabotaging Behaviour?
Ever binge-watched a new series on Netflix even though your assignment deadline is looming closer and closer? Ever scrolled through your ex’s Instagram page even though you know they’ve just got a new beau?
Self-sabotaging behaviour is anything you do that gets in the way of your original intent and causes self-inflicted stress. Sometimes it is painfully obvious that we are self-sabotaging our happiness, but a lot of the time, this kind of behaviour is so rigidly-engrained into our psyche that we aren’t even aware we’re doing it.
That is, until, we suffer the consequences.
Here are some signs that you’re self-sabotaging your happiness.
1 – You Always Pick Certainty Over The Unknown
We often rationalise our life decisions, convincing ourselves that we are ‘just being realistic’ when we talk ourselves out of travelling, side-hustling or going for that flashy promotion. However, this self-sabotaging behaviour is actually born out of a fear of the unknown. Sticking with the safe option instead of going after what we really want can leave us feeling painfully unfulfilled, uninspired and unhappy.
Solution: I know first-hand that anxiety, depression and low self-confidence can make venturing out of your comfort zone incredibly difficult – but I also know how rewarding it is. Start small and challenge yourself to do things that scare you until you’re ready to take the plunge and embrace change.
2 – You Neglect Your Self-Care Needs
I’m not just talking about your basic self-care needs (although a healthy diet and exercise are super important for mental wellness).
Your emotional, intellectual, social and environmental needs are also essential for happiness and harmony. They work together to instil happiness and harmony within the self – but how often do you pass up on the cleaning or skip writing in your journal because, well, there’s 1000 other things to do!
Solution: If you’re like me and need reminding to practise self-care, having a self-care workbook might be exactly the thing you need. Self-care planners are great mental health tools that encourage you to think about – and stick to – your long term self-care goals.
Check out Dominee’s 2021 Self-Care Planner over on her shop – it’s 181 pages, comes in both digital and printable format, and is full of rainbow happiness.
3 – You Compare Yourself To Others
Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt.
We’ve all been there. The intern five years your junior gets promoted. Your Instagram feed is full of your friends’ traveling escapades. Everyone seems to have more friends than you do. And it all serves as evidence that your life sucks – right?
Comparing yourself to others is particularly self-destructive. It facilitates unhappiness and dissatisfaction by casting a black cloud over your life, invalidating your achievements, riddling you with jealousy and perpetuating low self-esteem.
Solution: Instead of measuring your life’s worth in relation to other people, focus on what is important to you and set yourself realistic goals to get there. Remember, when it comes to social appearances, people always put their best face forward, meaning that you won’t hear about their behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations.
Use other people as inspiration but don’t be fooled by their flawless Instagram pictures!
4 – You Care Too Much About Other People’s Opinions
We all care about what people think – in fact, it is human nature for us to seek social validation and acceptance. However, putting too much weight on other people’s opinions is self-sabotaging because not only is it literally impossible to please everyone, but it makes you lose sight of your own values and opinions.
Solution: It takes some practise, but you can learn how to stop caring so much about what people think of you – even if you suffer from social anxiety or low self-esteem. Living your life in alignment with your own values, morals and desires is essential for inner-peace and self-acceptance – something you will never get through external validation.
5 – You Procrastinate
Look, I know you’re probably procrastinating right this very second! It’s completely natural for us to put things off – I myself work better under pressure – but when your procrastination habits are causing you stress on a regular basis, it’s probably time to change this self-sabotaging behaviour.
Solution: Write up daily to-do-lists or create a routine with allocated time for both business and leisure. Hold yourself accountable by making checklists and when you’ve ticked everything off, treat yourself to something!
6 – You’re Co-Dependent On A Significant Other For Happiness
Take this from a borderline who has turned toxic relationships into a sport – relying on other people to make you happy is indicative of deep-rooted insecurities. It highlights a severe lack of self-love, self-worth and self-esteem, all of which are absolutely essential to happiness. As cliché as it sounds, true happiness cannot be acquired externally – it really does come from within.
Solution: You can change co-dependent behaviour by taking steps to become more independent. You can work on your self-sufficiency by making your own friends, investing time in a solo hobby or working on your finances.
7 – You Don’t Appreciate The Little Things
Many of us (especially those of us with depression) think of happiness as some kind of divine, all-consuming entity. In actual fact, happiness is a much quieter feeling, one that can be found in easily-overlooked every day simplicities like watching the rising sunset, eating a tasty meal or hearing a child’s laughter.
Solution: Take time out of your day to observe and cherish the small moments of happiness around you.
8 – You Forget To Be Grateful For The Good Things
It’s hard to remember to practise gratitude, especially when times are tough or depression has its nasty grip on you. But when we put all of our mental energy into longing for the things we don’t have, we barely have time to appreciate the positives in our lives.
Solution: If you struggle with remembering to practise gratitude, Dominee over on Blessing Manifesting* has a 45-page gratitude workbook that is designed to help you focus on the positives in life, even if you suffer from depression. It is digitally downloadable, beautifully coloured and can help you in your mental health journey to happiness.
9 – You Ruminate About Things You Can’t Change
Ruminating is one of the most self-destructive behaviours that you can inflict on your mental health. I used to be a chronic overthinker and would subconsciously ruminate about everything – my past mistakes, my flaws, all the opportunities I’d missed and every future problem on the horizon. For years it did nothing but drag me deeper into depression.
Solution: There are a host of tools you can use to re-align your mindset and put a stop to subconscious rumination. I go into detail about the subject here.
10 – You Can’t Let Go Of Past Resentment
Nursing a grudge against somebody who did you wrong is human nature. It can even instil a sense of self-worth and teach you self-respect! But be warned – stewing in a grudge for too long can be seriously self-sabotaging to your happiness.
Your grudge facilitates a host of negative emotions: anger, resentment, frustration, maybe even sadness. Every time you re-live this grudge, you let these negative emotions infiltrate your mind, giving them more and more power over you and your happiness.
Solution: Try reframing the narrative by playing devil’s advocate. Write a letter to the person who hurt you and end it with acceptance and forgiveness. Journal your feelings and use positive affirmations every time you think of the situation. As you let go of your resentments, you will feel lighter, happier, and more free to focus on the positive things in your life.
Have you unknowingly been self-sabotaging your happiness? Do you have any other behaviours or solutions that you think I missed? Feel free to leave them in the comments down below!