If you watch human behavior, you can follow the patterns. People’s beliefs betray them. You can hear it in the words they use, and you can see it in their actions.
Here is how we make ourselves sick. The following is the recipe for being miserable.
- Assume Everyone Has Bad Intentions: This one is number one with a bullet. If you want to make yourself miserable, believe that everyone has bad intentions and that they are doing whatever they are doing to hurt you personally. You don’t need anything more than this belief to ruin your mindset. The truth is that a majority of the time no one is actually trying to harm you. It’s more likely that they are dealing with their fears or not thinking about you at all. A more powerful and empowering mindset is one where you assume good intentions.
- Assume Everything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong: This is the belief of the pessimist who tries to hide their thinly veiled negativity behind the statement, “I am a realist.” (Yeah, real pessimistic.) It is disempowering to believe that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. There isn’t a great reason to try if you believe you will fail. Sometimes the fear of being hurt is so strong, that this belief creeps up as a defense mechanism. Focusing on negative outcomes makes you miserable. It’s healthier to ask yourself, “What might go right?” You are resourceful enough to handle any problem that comes your way right now.
- Assume Everyone Sees the World the Same as You: No one has had the same life you’ve had. No one has had the same set of experiences. You are unique. So why on Earth would you believe that everyone sees the world the way you do? One perfect way to make yourself miserable is not to recognize that the two lenses on your face (and all of your other senses) give you a unique view. Everyone else has lenses of their own. You will make yourself miserable believing everyone you encounter sees the world the same way you do. A healthier default belief is one in which you believe no one sees the world exactly like you do. From there, you can work to appreciate the differences.
- Assume Everyone Should Behave Like You in a Given Situation: Here’s part two of its predecessor: believing everyone should act the same way you do in any given situation. Want to be super miserable? Look for ways that you believe people are doing things wrong and doing things differently from you. For a heightened sensation of misery, judge those people for the way they are doing things and believe they are stupid. When you get burned out on being miserable, decide to try to understand why people are doing what they are doing. And then recognize that most of the time you don’t have to do anything about it.
- Allow Your Inner Critic to Dominate Your Self-Talk: No one can help to make you miserable and keep you that way more effectively than your inner critic. It’s that little voice inside of you that walks you through all of the assumptions listed above. It’s there to remind you that people are out to hurt you, that things will go wrong, and that people are behaving badly. Your inner critic never runs out of energy or words. If you want to escape being miserable and having a poor mindset, you have to rid yourself of this voice. You have to replace it with a more powerful, more positive voice. What you say to yourself repeatedly becomes your beliefs. Choose your words carefully.
Reversing all of these patterns can move you from making yourself miserable to making yourself empowered and happy.