3 Surprising Beliefs That Could Be Sabotaging Your Happiness

Jun 02, 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

Explore the mind-traps that keep you stuck and learn how to break free for lasting change and fulfilment.

Do you ever feel like you're not making the progress you want in life, despite your efforts to be happy and successful?

This is a common struggle for many people. They have a lot going for them, but still feel stuck and unsatisfied.

It turns out, there are three specific beliefs that could be causing this sense of stagnation and dissatisfaction.

These beliefs are so ingrained in our minds that we hardly notice them. But once we do, and challenge them, we can make real progress and find fulfilment.

In this newsletter, we’ll dig into these beliefs, show you how they’re holding you back, and give you practical ideas to overcome them.

The first belief that could be sabotaging your happiness is what I'd like to call the "helplessness trap."

Let’s get into it…

1. The Helplessness Trap

You've been burning the candle at both ends at work, but that promotion keeps slipping through your fingers. Or maybe you've been pinching pennies till they scream, but your debt just won't budge. After a while, you start thinking, "Why bother? Nothing I do makes a difference." Welcome to the helplessness trap.

This phenomenon, also known as learned helplessness, happens when repeated challenges convince us we have no control over our lives. We wave the white flag and accept defeat, even when opportunities for change are staring us in the face.

When we're caught in the helplessness trap, we convince ourselves our actions are futile. "What's the point?" we grumble. "Nothing ever changes." This mindset blinds us to chances for growth, keeping us stuck in the same old rut.

But here's the thing: setbacks don't equal powerlessness. Sure, we can't control every curveball life throws our way, but we can always choose how we swing at them.

Breaking free starts with recognising that our choices matter. It's about focusing on what we can change and learning from our mistakes. As the Serenity Prayer states, "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

This prayer encourages us to develop self-awareness and understand the difference between what we can and cannot control. By accepting what we cannot change, we free ourselves from the burden of trying to control the uncontrollable. At the same time, by focusing on what we can influence, we empower ourselves to make positive improvements in our lives.

When we feel like our efforts are futile, it's easy to throw in the towel and get stuck in the helplessness trap. But by focusing on what we can control – our attitude, effort, and response to challenges – we can break free and create positive change.

Embracing the Serenity Prayer's wisdom, we learn to accept what we can't change and courageously change what we can. This mindset shift empowers us to take action and move forward, even when the odds feel stacked against us.

But the helplessness trap isn't the only mental snare holding us back. Another common pitfall? "Others-Need-to-Fix-It" thinking. That's where we hinge our happiness on others changing to meet our expectations.

2. Others-Need-to-Fix-It Thinking

Ever caught yourself thinking "if only they would..." or "things would be better if they just...?" Maybe it's a perpetually late friend or a partner who neglects household duties. Banking on others to change so you can finally be content? That's a recipe for endless frustration…

In his book, '12 Rules For Life,' Dr. Jordan Peterson shares a story about a woman who is bitter, resentful, and angry at the world, blaming God for her misery. He points out that if her misery is her own fault, she might be able to change her situation. But if it's God's fault — if reality itself is flawed — then she's doomed. She can't change reality, but she can change her own life.

When we fixate on what others should do differently, we give away our power. We make our well-being dependent on their actions. But when they don't change, we're left feeling stuck and resentful.

The truth is, we can't control others. People only change when they're ready and willing. Expecting otherwise is like banging your head against a wall — painful and unproductive.

So, what can you control? Your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Instead of trying to mold others, focus on your own growth. Develop communication skills, practice empathy, and find healthy ways to meet your needs.

By shifting your focus from what others should do to what you can do, you take back your power and open the door to lasting change. And when you start showing up as your best self, you often inspire others to do the same.

So, the next time you think, "If only they would...," remember: it’s not about them, it’s about you. Focus on what you can change, and trust that the rest will follow. Embracing this mindset will help you break free from the "Others-Need-to-Fix-It" Trap and create a meaningful life.

Which brings us to one more trap — the Patience Deficit.

3. Patience Deficit

In our fast-food, instant-download world, it's easy to expect lightning-fast results. Unfortunately, that's not how lasting change works.

Think about it. When you plant a seed, do you expect a fully-grown tree to appear the next day? Of course not. You understand that progress happens gradually, with periods of hard work followed by bursts of noticeable improvement. Personal development follows the same pattern.

It's easy to focus solely on the end goal, but the real transformation happens in the journey itself. The small, daily actions and choices you make build the habits and mindset necessary for lasting change.

When progress feels slow, remember: you're doing the hard work others won't. Those small steps are the foundation of your future success. Your consistent efforts are paving the way for the life you aspire to live.

Setbacks and plateaus are part of the journey, not roadblocks. Embrace them as challenges to overcome. When you want to quit, tap into your discipline. Remind yourself why you started and use that as fuel to keep going.

Lasting change isn't some fairy tale where everything magically falls into place. It's a series of small, consistent steps that add up over time. It's about showing up day after day, even when you don't feel like it, and putting in the work.

You'll stumble and slide back at times. That's not failure; it's part of the journey. Pick yourself up, dust off, and keep moving forward. Every step, no matter how small, is progress.

We often look for complex solutions, thinking "it can't be that simple." But the truth is, lasting change comes from simple, consistent actions. It's not fancy or glamorous, but that's precisely why it works.

Embracing this "boring" path – focusing on what we can control, taking responsibility for our growth, and consistently showing up – is the key to breaking free from the beliefs holding us back.

It's not easy, but it is simple. And that simplicity is what makes it powerful.

To making a difference,

Dr Yannick

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