“The greatest happiness is to know the source of your unhappiness.”~Fyodor Dostoyevski
I spent the weekend with dear friends. Dear friends whom I’ve known for a long, long time. As always, when we get together, there was laughter, conversation, food, wine, a-ha moments, and more laughter and conversation.
One of my friends is going through a tough time. Things are not quite the way he wants them to be right now, and while he’s handling it well and moving through the challenges, it is tough. Way, way tough.
As my friend explained the situation, and as his explanation revealed some of his thought processes and underlying beliefs, it became clearer and clearer to me, from the outside, how crazy his underlying beliefs were. As he labeled himself “pathetic” and “a loser,” it became clearer and clearer to me, from the outside, how he was – understandably – judging himself irrationally, and how that was hurting him.
I pointed out to my friend – as I do to my clients, some family members, and myself – how his labels were outright lies. How no one else would label him “pathetic” and “a loser” based on what was going on. How he (hopefully could) at some point, find a more supportive – and more realistic – way to talk to himself and about himself.
It made me realize how at least part of his unhappiness at the time, might be a result of not only what was happening in his life, but of how harshly he was assessing himself. How quickly he was decreeing himself a loser.
It made me realize that if – when – he could see this and turn a more compassionate and accepting eye on himself, he might be able to ease some of his unhappiness, without even changing his situation.
It made me realize how often so many of us do this to ourselves – about the latest project at work, how we treat family and friends, the risks we want to take, the amazing accomplishments we’ve achieved. How often do we negate ourselves, downplay ourselves, and lambaste ourselves because of the “lies” of our thought processes and engrained thinking?
How often do we do it, and – perhaps more importantly – how can we stop? How can we see this source of our unhappiness and lessen the judgment? How can we allow ourselves space to grow, room to learn, and compassion along the way?
How have you been the source of your own unhappiness and how have you gotten out of that pattern?
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