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How we create our own misery

Episode 433
Wildly Successful Lifestyle

LISTEN TO: How we create our own misery

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 433 of the Wildly Successful Lifestyle podcast! Nice to be with you. Thank you for wanting to be the best version of you possible. You’re mindset plays a really big role in that. In my opinion, it’s the cornerstone to a wildly successful life. You cant be truly successful without a positive mindset and a positive mindset is something we have to work on every day, just like our physical fitness and our nutritional health. For me there have been times where as I got older I thought I am not sure how people keep their sanity. Life can be so hard. But I realized that having that thought was part of my problem. Telling myself things like I cant handle this or life is too hard or Im losing my mind. These thoughts can lead to a negative thought spiral that will have you actually feeling like you’re losing your mind when things are usually no where near as bad as you think they are and you’re closer to things working out in your favor then you allow yourself to see. In other words, you’re creating scenarios in your head that are far worse than the actual reality.

When I was younger I thought that when I got to be a grown up life was going to be so fun and much better because I would get to do whatever I wanted. No-one would be able to tell me who I could hang out with or what I could or couldn’t do. I would be so much happier once I was able to be in charge of myself. And then I got be an adult and being effortlessly happy seemed harder and harder. I felt like the problems seemed overwhelming, relationships were harder, people disappointed me. Why did life seem to be getting harder when I always thought it would get easier as an adult?

That’s when I started noticing that things seemed harder because I would create scenarios in my head all the time. Scenarios that didn’t feel good. And I would try to mind read too. This person is thinking this about me. This client thinks that. Or I would single myself out as the only person with a certain problem which made me feel isolated or I would be highlighting the bad things about someone to myself instead of focusing on their good aspects. I noticed that most of my misery was imagined angry conversations with my sister or imagined scenarios where I’m left out of a family thing, or imagined horrible problems that could possibly occur on a project. I was literally creating my misery in my head! The actual event I was worried about wasn’t that bad at all. The actual reality was no where near as bad. In an effort to try to protect us our brain creates imagined scenarios that make us isolate in order to protect ourselves from being miserable, but in turn the isolation and constant negative thought patterns are actually what makes us miserable.

Have you ever had a fight with your spouse and you just really can’t stand them at the moment and your mind just keeps playing over and over all the bad things they have ever said or done to the point where you just make things worse than they are? I have, well I used to anyway, before I realized what I was doing. I was actually making a situation that wasn’t that bad waaaay worse by creating scenarios in my head. The thought pattern I was allowing in my head would make me feel way worse then the actual argument I had.

As adults we do tend to focus on the negative a lot more than the positive. It’s sort of a knee jerk habit. Our brains are hard wired that way, why do you think bad news sells more? It’s because it keeps us glued to the tv. It keeps us hyper focused on the bad thing and then our brain gets going thinking about whats the next bad thing coming. The media companies know how we are wired and they take advantage of it by constantly coming up with worst case scenarios and pounding them into our heads through news and social media. But we can easily turn the tv off, we can easily uninstall the x app or Facebook app, but how do we turn off the negative thoughts in our brain that seem to be automatic? How do we turn off the thoughts that have us hyper focused on the negative? The thoughts that have us spiraling into making things way worse than they actually are.

I was listening to Esther Hicks speak on a YouTube video this week.

She was telling a story of how she and her husband would play a game with her grandkids. The kids would hide a button somewhere in the house and Esther and Jerry would have to find it. They would do this by giving them hints, so if they got closer to the button the kids would yell hotter hotter! If they got further away from finding it, the kids would yell colder! She said there was no way that they wouldn’t find the button because the kids knew where it was and were giving hints as to how to find it and as long as they followed the hints, there it would be. We used to play that when I was young too. Fun game. The reason she told the story though was because she said life is constantly sending us hints too. Every single one of us gets these hints. The more we follow the ones that feel good and right the closer we get to everything we want. But it’s all based on how we feel. If we are feeling really good, and we are consistently allowing good thought patterns then we are getting closer to what we want, but if we are feeling really bad, having negative thought patterns all the time, we are getting further and further from what we want.

Most of us have no idea we have these two parts of our brain that are fighting for control. One wants to keep us safe and isolated so that we never experience pain or discomfort the other part allows us to expand, explore and grow into the best version of ourselves. And they are constantly trying to overtake each other, the thing is…we control both sides but one can be dominant. And whichever one that wins out in being dominant depicts how our life is going to go. Our thoughts really do decide the quality of our life because it affects who we surround ourselves with and what we allow to happen.

We think we are miserable because our partner said this or did this or because this bad thing happened or that person didn’t cooperate…but ultimately what’s causing most of our misery is the way we are thinking about the things that happen in our everyday life. We just make them so much worse in our head, most of us do it a lot more then we think. We make things scarier or meaner or worse than they actually are all the time and it’s causing us unnecessary misery. And look, there’s nothing wrong with you if you do this, it’s something humans do. But being aware of it and changing it is our work. That’s part of our work as a functioning healthy happy human.

We aren’t going to completely turn off negative thoughts but we can catch them as they come and stop ourselves from spiraling. You’ll know when you’re starting to spiral because you’ll notice you’re feeling bad, you’ll be grumpy and not sure why, you’ll be mad at your partner and not sure why until you stop and say ok, hold up what is going on in my head that’s making me feel so bad?

The other day it was a beautiful Saturday and Eric had been out of town all week, so I wanted to do something fun that day but Eric said I really have to do our taxes because we have a meeting with the accountant on Monday. I noticed my brain started to want to say he’s no fun, why does he have to do that today? I caught myself and said you know what? He has to do it today because he’s been flying all week, he’s been busy and has had no other time to do it, of course, it’s not fun for him either. You see I noticed I was starting to go down a bad train of thought and caught myself. I ended up asking him if I could help in any way and he said no let me just get this done and then we will go have a fun night and that’s exactly what we did. I finished reading a good book I had started and he did the taxes and it wasn’t all that bad. Not what either of us wanted to do on a sunny Saturday but that was our reality for the day. That was what we had to do for the day. It was up to us how our attitude about it was going to go. We could be grumpy and do it or we could be happy and do it. We chose the latter.

There are things in life that we don’t control, making them worse by spiraling into a negative thought pattern is how most of us make things worse, it’s how most of us create a lot of our own misery.

My challenge to you this week is to notice at least once this week when you are allowing a thought pattern that is making a situation worse than it is and then change it. At some point we all have to do things that we aren’t crazy about doing or we have an uncomfortable situation with a friend or family member that’s not pleasant. We want to blame the situation, but that puts the power of our happiness out of our control. It’s our attitude about a situation that decides if we are going to be miserable or not. The Dalai Lama says “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” Share this with 3 people that you wish to see happy. I love you guys I’ll talk to you in a few days.

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