Want to Be Happier? Letting Go of These Will Make it Happen

Want to Be Happier? Letting Go of These Will Make it Happen

Happiness is as much about what we do as it is about what we don’t do.

We were born to set the world on fire. To live, love, learn, fall down, haul ourselves back up and do it all over again. Above all else, we were born to be happy. Everything we need to do that, is in us. 

There’s a trap we humans fall into a little bit. Actually a lot. I’ve done it myself once or a thousand times. We make the mistake of thinking the things that are completely within our control, aren’t. We fall under the spell of these ‘things’ and they become automatic, unnoticed and powerful. We don’t realise the damage they do – or that we can put an end to that damage as soon as we make the decision to.

When times get tough, it’s human nature to hang on harder to what’s familiar, even if it’s something that’s doing damage. We don’t realise it’s a choice. But it is. Here is a list of the things that hold us back. The more you let go of, the more things will change, and the more you – for the better:

  1. Other people’s opinions.

    You’re enough. You’ve always been enough. Good enough. Wise enough. Strong enough. Brave enough. Enough to decide who’s right for you, what’s right for you, the best way to be, the best way to live. Your wisdom gets lost when you listen too much to other people and not enough to yourself. People will doubt you, criticize and try to change your mind. Often that has more to do with them than you. Bend and flex when it feels right – if you feel like you’re doing it to keep someone else happy, leave it alone. 

  2. Having to please other people. (Oh those expectations!)

    This life is yours to live and it’s up to you to cherish the opportunity that comes with that. It’s the space you’ve been given to learn in, to love, be loved, flourish and sometimes, to fall. Don’t let anybody take that away by trying to control what you do with it. 

    You will disappoint people. And they’ll disappoint you. But live to please everyone and the person you’ll be hurting time after time is you. Let your decisions be guided by your truth and your wisdom and not someone else’s conditions of acceptance of you. If those conditions are designed to suit anyone else but you, then it’s not acceptance, it’s manipulation. Every time you change for someone you move a little bit more away from your authentic self and that wild open heart of yours becomes a little more tamed, a little more contained and you become a little more removed from your true self – that one that was born to set the world on fire.

  3. Saying yes to everyone. And their cousin’s neighbour’s mother.

    If you’re saying yes just to avoid saying no, it’s probably not the right thing to say yes to. The more things you say yes to the things you don’t want, the less room you’ll have to say yes to the things that actually matter.

  4. Anything that stops you asking for clarification, time, help, patience, understanding, space. 

    You’re human. You’ll need all of these things at some time or another. Sometimes you’ll need all of them at once – and you’re entitled them. Remember that. If there is shame around asking for it, whose voice is telling you that you shouldn’t need it? A parent’s? Someone you’re comparing yourself to? Someone you’ve been compared to? Who? It doesn’t matter if you can’t figure it out, what matters is that you recognise it as not being your own. Let it go. It is a sign of great strength – and wisdom – to be able to ask for what you need when you need it. If you’re not used to it, it will feel awkward at first, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right. And the more you ask, the easier it will get.

  5. Judging, criticizing, complaining. (And if you’re about to skip this because ‘you’d never do that to anyone, it includes doing it to yourself, too!)

    We all get it wrong sometimes. You don’t want to be one of those righteous, jugdementals who criticize and condemn someone because their faults are different to yours. If the urge is there, and at times it will be, check in and see where it’s coming from. Are you comparing, feeling insecure, jealous? All of those are okay to feel, but be careful how you act on them.

    We’ve all lost, loved, wanted and been bent over with grief. We’ve all been hurt, misunderstood and rejected. For some people, it’s been too many times and it’s changed them. That doesn’t mean you have to like them or accept them, but don’t add to the punches. Step quietly around and remember that we all want to be accepted, understood and loved. And if that someone you’re criticising and judging is you, then this all goes double. You can’t expect to set your world on fire when you’re smothering your spark with trash talk.

  6. Excuses.

    It’s our right as humans to stuff it up, fall apart and get it wrong sometimes – you don’t need to make excuses. An apology perhaps. Maybe an explanation. But never an excuse. You’re better than that. Don’t shy away from your own humanity, by pretending you don’t struggle with the same things we all struggle with. 

  7. Letting idiots, jerks and toxics change who you are.

    There will always be those who will try to dim you – and that will have nothing to do with you. If you find there’s someone in your life whose words or actions lead you to doubt that you’re good enough, smart enough, capable enough, beautiful enough, then it’s time to let go – of them, what they think, and what they mean to you. Don’t feel you have to justify or apologise cutting anyone from your life if they’ve handed you the scissors. 

  8. Thinking only the big things should be celebrated.

    Life happens in moments. It’s never about the big things, but about the small things that add up to something extraordinary. Celebrate those moments, however small. You’ll know them because they’ll leave you feeling inspired, hopeful, excited, brave or strong. You won’t always see the importance straight away, but you don’t need to see the final picture in its splendid completion to appreciate the parts that add up to make it happen.

  9. Talking, shutting down or getting busy – when it would be best to listen.

    Every single person you meet knows something you don’t. Even the idiots who would sooner see you fall. Listen to everything before you decide that none of it’s worth knowing. You’ve got nothing to prove – you don’t need to be smarter than, better than, bigger than, funner than, wiser than. You just need to listen. The rest will take care of itself. You’ll always have more influence with people if they feel as though you’e heard them. That alone is a good reason to pause and listen before you decide what to do with what you’ve heard.

  10. The need to be right.

    There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. Who had us believing there was anyway? Sometimes it’s the only way you can know what’s right. Better to put it out there and test it out than believe in the nonsense long term. Have faith that even if you’re wrong, you had a good reason for believing it in the first place. Then, be comforted by the fact that you were brave enough to let it go. It’s the fear of making a mistake that keeps us stuck in bad jobs, bad relationships, and around people who are bad for us. Don’t worry about being wrong. Worry that you’ll hang to ‘wrong’ for so long that you’ll never realise how ‘right’ things can be.

  11. Holding back.

    Vulnerability is the key to great relationships and a wonderful life but too many times we hold back. With people. With ideas. With ambition. With a ‘what if …’. We don’t take enough chances and it’s the fear of shame that holds us back. That fear is a dirty little liar. The truth is this: When it’s that thing or that person you can’t stop thinking about – you know the one – you’ll always have more to lose by staying safe than by taking a chance. By staying safe you’ll never experience shame, but you’ll never experience how great you could have been – and that’s a huge loss. Be daring. Be open. And don’t hold back. You’re here to fly – to love, to be loved, to flourish, to succeed, to grow, to knock this world off its feet with what you have to offer – and none of that comes with holding back.

  12. The need for control.

    I heard something once – don’t know where – and I draw on it often when I need courage or the strength to take a risk – ‘Fall back and let the universe catch you.’ By needing to control things, you’re missing the opportunities that show up spontaneously and unexpectedly. Let go, and see what happens. This has become my mantra is because I’ve seen what happens when I do. Doors open, paths widen. When you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, things open up. They just do.

  13. The Resistance to Change.

    Our paths are never straight. They’ll be sometimes bendy, sometimes smooth and sometimes clear. Sometimes the pot-holes will be so deep that you’ll fall into them in glaring sunshine and hit the bottom in the dark – but there’s always a way up. One thing is for certain, at times the direction of our path will change and sometimes this will be unexpected. If fighting it keeps pushing you backwards, try going with it and see where that takes you. Change is the fuel for growth and flourishing. The scariest part of making a change is that moment just before the leap, but once that leap is taken, you will be surprised with the doors that will open and the opportunities that will find you. I’m not saying that it will always be easy – things that are worth it rarely are – I’m saying that it will be worth it. When the path keeps getting blocked, your heart keeps getting broken, or the things you do keep pushing you down, it’s time to let go of trying to control or change whatever it that’s hurting you. You can always change direction – or change the path you’re on.

  14. Regret

    At some point in time, every decision you made felt like the right one to be making based on the balance of the information that was available to you. That doesn’t always mean it was the right one, so learn from it, move on from it and decide not to go back there. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in it by regret – it will chew you from the inside out.

  15. Blame

    Sometimes people do awful things, but they can’t control what you do from here on. Forgiveness isn’t about making everything okay but about letting go of someone’s control over you. Still despise them, what they did, and shut them out of your life – absolutely, but just don’t have them standing there by your side while you keep moving forward.

Letting go of those things can be hard, and there’s no need to let go of all them all at once. Start with one. Just one. And see what happens. Only good things can happen when you kick the stuff that weighs you down, not the least of which is freeing up energy and options for the things that will flourish you – and there are plenty of those waiting to take hold as soon as there’s space. 

What would you add to the list? 

9 Comments

Allie

These articles always have a way of finding me when I need them. Thank you!

Reply
Alex Schiavo

Ideas presented here are remarkable in their
similarity to Buddhist teachings!

Reply
Wendy

This goes straight to my core. I need to do all these things. From what source should I seek professional help? What sort of doctor? My brain is exhausted and it’s difficult to recognize truth and when I do, I feel like I don’t have the courage to make the necessary changes. I wish I had a monitor in my thoughts to help guide me, to learn from by example. Oh well…thank you for spelling out such clear truth.

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Hi Wendy. Everything you need to make the changes is in you. The courage, the strength, the resilience – it’s all there. It might be buried under your struggles and history and heartache, but it’s all there. When it’s buried too deep, you might need support to reach it, in which case a counsellor will certainly be able to help you. The other thing is that you don’t have to do it all at once. When you change one thing, you would be surprised with what else will fall into place. Changing too many things at once would be overwhelming for anyone and would likely send you straight back to old habits, so if you can, start with something easy. With regards to finding a counsellor, a doctor can help put you on to one, otherwise ask friends if they know of anyone. I’m not sure what country you’re in, but you’ll probably find that for a counsellor or psychologist you won’t need a referral. I hope this helps.

Reply
Brigitte

I subscribed to Hey Sigmund because I have a son, who is incredibly anxious due to a lot of awful things happening in his life, totally out of his control. It is very hard being the parent of a child like this because when he is happy, he is a real charmer but that doesn’t happen much any more and he’s only 11. I always find something relevant in your articles to think about and try to apply to him. I also send them through to his teachers so that they can have a better understanding of why he is the way he is. He is severely dyslexic and incredibly intelligent. Just those two combined are frustrating enough. Throw in a dead father, a mother with cancer and an anorexic sister and life is just very very tough.

Thanks for your articles. They are the first I’ve found in 9 years of searching that make sense to me for him.

Brigitte

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Hi Brigitte. I’m so sorry to hear that your family is going through such a touch time. I will never understand why some people get hit with so much all at once. Your little man will get through because of you and because of how much you believe in him and love him and support him. You sound like you’re their rock and I hope there is someone looking after you too. I’m pleased the articles are able to help you. Much love and strength to you.

Reply
anonymous

These articles are no doubt helpful and eye opening but one big thing you could add as you tell people don’t hold back, take a chance because you don’t know what else is out there for you is to never ever ever hurt anyone to do this, never take advantage of anyone, use anyone, manipulate anyone, con anyone to get what else might be out there for you. Having been on the receiving end of that kind of person I was in a relationshio with for over ten years, such inhumane treatment is life destroying. Yes the average good person should know this already but those who abuse a person’s goodwill need to hear this. Then again those people would probably never read this type of writings.

Reply

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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