All of us, I’d argue, would say we want to be happy. And yet, so many of us deny ourselves the things that would bring us the most joy. Why?
1. You believe you’re unworthy.
If you don’t believe in your own worth and value, you don’t make much of an effort to pursue your own happiness. You don’t believe that you deserve joy. What does happiness matter if you don’t matter? But that’s just a story you’re telling yourself. It’s only true because you believe it. And you always (always, always) live out what you believe. So what if you decided to believe something different? How powerful could you be if you were willing to stop questioning your own worth? How much could you change your whole outlook on and experience in life by just believing in your own value instead?
2. Someone in authority told you life is suffering.
Studies have shown that most people will believe a person in authority without question. That’s particularly true of children believing what their parents tell them. It also holds true of teachers, bosses, professionals, and even strangers who speak with confidence about their subject, even if what they’re saying is wrong. It’s entirely possible that someone in authority along the way told you, either through their words or their actions, that life isn’t about being happy and doing things that fulfill you but instead is about working hard even at a job you hate, tolerating bad situations, accepting life-sucking people in your presence, not listening to your own intuition and instead listening to the advice of others, and/or suffering through. But know this: you are the ultimate authority in your own life (it’s your choices, I say kindly, that got you to where you are today). So answer this: what do you want to be true for you about life and your place in it?
3. You’re waiting for the right time.
Maybe you’re putting off your happiness waiting for more money. Or less fear. Or for someone to give you permission. Or to weigh a certain amount or have a body that’s a certain size. Perhaps, you’re waiting to meet the right person or get out of a relationship or for your children to be born or for your children to be grown. Or possibly you’re waiting for a sign or for the stars to align or for all your ducks to be in a row. There’s always a reason why not if you want to make one. And too: there’s always a reason why to (and a way that will reveal itself) if you really want something for your life.
How To Quit Denying Yourself
- Write a list of things you love and enjoy, things that light a spark in you, things that make you feel alive when you have/be/do/say them.
- Read over that list aloud.
- Circle the one you feel most drawn to.
- Go do it today.
- Repeat daily (or as often as you can).
- Remember: you make the schedule that you keep. So answer this honestly: do you want more joy/fulfillment or more exhaustion/frustration?
Some things I’ve learned:
- Your worth and value are innate. You were born with them and no one can take them away from you . . . ever. You can refuse to believe in your own worth and value, but that doesn’t mean your worth and value are any less.
- People give you advice based on their own fears and limitations. Just because they’re in a position of authority does not mean their advice is the best advice for you. You get to reject (oh yes, you do!) any advice/thought/belief that doesn’t serve to make your life better.
- There is not—nor will there ever be—a perfect time. There’s just now. So stop waiting and take your leap of faith.
What joy will you stop denying yourself today?