The second greatest obstacle to happiness and success

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the second greatest obstacle to our happiness and success in life.
The second greatest obstacle to happiness and success

First a quick update:

“Spring Cleaning for the Soul”
Unknowingly, we always take the past with us into future relationships. Does your emotional baggage have you stuck in a rut? Read my insights and clear out room for romance with these life-changing tips:

“Liars, cheaters and adulterers – the politicians”
With the uprisings around the world against corrupt politicians and regimes and given the recent allegations of past sexual harassment against US Herman Cain, this partial list of cheating politicians of all political ideologies will shock readers: Read more.

Now, let’s talk about the second greatest obstacle to our happiness and success in life.

Okay, you are probably wondering “What is the number one greatest obstacle to our happiness and success in life?”

From working with clients over many years, I have found that the greatest cause of pain, hardship and suffering is the perceived inability and choice not to forgive – lack of forgiveness and compassion for oneself and others. Notice I use the words “perceived inability and choice”; most of us think that we cannot forgive when in reality, it is still a choice, albeit a very difficult one – particularly when we are referring to that one person about whom we adamantly state “I could never forgive him/her!” Sometimes, that him/her is us – ourselves – and we continue to not only carry guilt but to subconsciously punish ourselves – depriving ourselves of love, joy and all the good that life has to offer. Remember, too, that anytime you feel guilty you will find ways to punish or sabotage yourself. After all, what do we do with someone that is found guilty? We punish them!

The third greatest obstacle to our happiness and success in life is our inability or refusal to accept the things we cannot change – people and things beyond our control. And our struggle to control the things we cannot control only causes anxiety and further stress.

That now brings us back to the second greatest obstacle to our happiness and success.

At Milestones Ranch Malibu Treatment Center I was teaching a class about the ways to identify emotional vampires – how to deal with them and how to rid those toxic people from your life.  (Also read my articles “Dealing with toxic friends”  and “Dealing with emotional vampires” )

It is easy to become sucked into thinking that somehow we are responsible for these emotional vampires or toxic people.

But this mantra serves as powerful protection:
“I understand that the way others respond to me is about them.”

This is one of the greatest challenges we all face: when someone criticizes, becomes annoyed, frustrated or disappointed with something we have done or said: we automatically assume that they are right and that there is something wrong with us. In other words, we take to heart, we accept and receive their criticism and we also accept responsibility for the way they have responded or reacted to us, and we conclude that it is our fault for their reaction.

The result is that we lose belief in our ability, we doubt our significance and self-worth, we lose our self-confidence, and our self-esteem drops dramatically.

And this leads to the revelation of the second greatest obstacle to our happiness and success in life.

Not believing in yourself & your self-worth.

Not believing in yourself is not the same as self-doubt which refers to uncertainty about your abilities and talents.  (Also read Conquering Self-doubt)

When you don’t believe in yourself and your self-worth you give up, you don’t take action, you don’t pursue your dreams or you simply sabotage your life, concluding that there is something wrong with you, that you are not good enough and that you do not deserve love, joy, success and happiness.

This may be the result of criticism, condemnation and judgment received as a child or it might be the complete opposite – no one ever recognized, validated and acknowledged your achievements, abilities or talents.

And yes, everyone has something that they wish would have been different in their childhood. But as adults we are no longer victims unless we choose to live off our story – the excuses we present now for not being, doing or having what we want.

Step one to believing in yourself, your abilities and your self-worth is to stop and ponder the reasons and explanations (not justifications) for your parent’s behavior. As corny as it sounds it is also true: your parents repeated what was done to them and what they learned as children. If they criticized you, they were criticized as children; if they never praised you and you felt invisible, they were never praised as children and they probably, too, also felt invisible.

Recall the mantra:
“I understand that the way others respond to me is about them.”

When you understand that they probably had the same experiences and upbringing as you did, then you will awaken to realize that when they were children, they too, probably experienced a lot of the same pain as you did. Understanding the reasons your parents did what they did helps set you free – it leads to compassion and forgiveness and, it helps you to understand at a deeper level that it was not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. They couldn’t love you the way you needed because they were never loved the way they needed to be loved.

Step two to believing in yourself, your abilities and your self-worth is to take action to change what you now believe about yourself.

Recently, a client came to me suffering from feelings of worthlessness. During a session, he struggled to list to me his talents, gifts and abilities when he was a child. Why? No one ever praised him and instead he was verbally and physically abused. He spent most of his time as a child afraid of the next outburst or beating by his mother; he never felt safe and no one ever reinforced his self-worth.

It may sound as a corny exercise, but can you list the talents, gifts and abilities that you had as a child?

Why create the list of childhood talents?

Those abilities expressed in childhood represent your core essence.

If you were funny, adventurous, smart, creative, rhythmical, friendly, loyal, and so forth, then you are those things inside. They are part of your real consciousness.

And if you are not expressing them now, it is not because you are not those qualities or because you have lost those qualities, but rather because you hid them and repressed them out of fear, criticism or bad habits.

List your talents, gifts and abilities. Begin to engage in activities and habits of expressing those talents on a daily basis and, surround yourself with people who recognize, validate and appreciate you and your gifts.

Finally, give away what you want.

Yes, that is not easy and it is not immediately comfortable but, praise others, express gratitude and appreciation to others, offer your support, words of encouragement and belief in others’ abilities. You will also reap the reward as you notice that you quickly feel better doing so.

Remember, the more good you see in others, the more good you see in you. And the more good you see in you, the more good you will see in others and others will see in you!

Here are some links to other impactful articles I have written around believing in yourself:

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Lu Cluff says:

    Hello Patrick….the advice that some might think is CORNY works. Tried it and still trying. It makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself and how you can deal with negative attitudes that might come your way. Three cheers for CORNY…it works. Thanks Patrick. Lu:)

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