Courage to be Happy
“Do Not Live to Satisfy the Expectations of Others”
― Ichiro Kishimi
Our past DOES NOT determine our future.
You don’t act or feel a certain way because of events in your past.
Adler believed that you act or feel a certain way because you chose to and you use your past or other circumstances to justify your behaviour.
You didn’t perform poorly in school because your teachers didn’t like you. You chose not to perform well at school and you’re blaming it on your teachers.
You meet with your friends or family and you complain about certain events or circumstances in your life and how bad they made you feel. You chose to feel bad for yourself, so you can get attention and empathy from the people around you.
Someone cut you off in traffic, causing you to spill your drink all over yourself. You got angry, opened a window and yelled at him at the top of your lungs. The goal of shouting came before you got angry. Anger as emotion was created on purpose to be used as an excuse to yell at the guy who just cut you off.
You are unhappy because you chose to be so
At some point in your life, you found the benefit of “being unhappy” and you chose to be so. A lifestyle is a way of living that person chooses for himself. People are not born with certain lifestyles, neither you were. You have chosen your lifestyle subconsciously or when you were young, but you chose it. Therefore it is fair to assume if you chose it once, you can choose again. You can change your lifestyle in instant, regardless of circumstances. You are not doing so, because you choose not to change it.
You’ve been living like this for years and it worked out just fine. Changing a lifestyle holds a lot of uncertainty and unconsciously perceived as dangerous. You simply don’t know where following a new way of living might lead you. You can get yourself in real trouble, causing you pain and suffering. It is easier to leave things the way they are and hope that something will change. It is easier to blame your past or environment for your unhappiness. Better be safe than sorry, right?
You lack the courage, that’s the real problem. Neither people, environment or circumstances are responsible for your unhappiness. You and only you is the one who is 100% responsible for your lifestyle and happiness.
You chose to dislike yourself
Just like any person, you have strengths and weaknesses, shortcomings and things to be proud of. In order to dislike yourself, you notice only your shortcomings and neglect your strengths. Why did you choose to dislike yourself?
You are afraid to get hurt by being judged, refused and disliked by other people.
You don’t have the courage to accept yourself the way you are and step forward.
People = Pain
The more you dislike yourself, the more you get into your “shell”. You put your “mental hoodie” on, distance yourself from other people and limit any social interactions. Disliking yourself is a defence mechanism that serves as a confirmation of your low self-esteem whenever someone dislikes or refuses you. “That’s because of my shortcomings I got disliked. I am not worthy to be loved.”
Disliking yourself protects you from serious emotional pain caused by other people disliking you. You chose to dislike yourself because you are terrified of being judged. It protects you from being hurt.
If you choose to live in society, you need to understand that you will get hurt. Sooner or later, to a greater or lesser extent you will get hurt and you will hurt other people. This is the fact that you can’t change and simply need to accept.
A person’s face always turns red (blushing), whenever he/she speaks to the public. This individual has low self-esteem and fear to be rejected. He/she is afraid to get hurt and lose even more confidence.
You are afraid to get hurt emotionally by other people. The closer interpersonal relationship is, the stronger your fear gets. It is exhausting to constantly live in a state of fear so you choose to avoid interpersonal relationships, mostly the close ones. You avoid such relationships by disliking yourself.
Lonely, but never Alone
Don’t ever think you are alone, you are not. Being alone is a circumstance, and loneliness is feeling. You might feel lonely, but you are never alone! Remember that.
Loneliness is having other people around you, and having a deep sense of “not belonging” to the community, being the “outcast”.
You can not feel lonely without having other people around you. However, you can be completely isolated, living in the woods of Amazonia and still be lonely. Your mind will bring up the memories of people you care about and the loneliness will haunt you day and night. If you have no one who’s waiting on you up there, if you are dependent only on yourself, the feeling of loneliness will be minimal.
Inferiority & Superiority
When you meet other people you instantly judge them by the ways they look, talk, move etc. This process of evaluating takes seconds and when you assign a value to this person, your compare it with your own value, the way you see yourself. The result of this comparison is subjective and does not always represent the real picture.
We all born with a feeling of inferiority.
This is normal and it’s a feeling that pushes up to improve, to get better. A baby learns to stand on both legs, then learns talk. It’s the escape from inferiority feeling and strives for superiority.
Having these feelings is absolutely normal as its what keeps on pushing a human being forward. Such feelings are hard to endure for a long time. The problems start when a person gives up before even attempting to make a step towards progress, saying “I am not smart enough” or “I am not good enough”, therefore I can’t succeed. It is nothing more than excuses to not put in real effort into changing something. You should paraphrase your excuses and say “I am not good enough, therefore I don’t want to succeed”, “I am not smart enough, so I don’t want to succeed”.
Changing something may require you to sacrifice the pleasures you enjoy: spending time with your friends, engaging in hobbies etc. Just admit that you don’t have the courage to change your life. It is easier to leave the things they are right now and continue coming up with “theories” and excuses for why life is so unfair to your and why you can’t get what you desire.
Keep on complaining…
Feeling inferior in a present situation means that the person has a sense of lack in oneself. It forces individuals to compensate for that something that’s missing.
Healthy ways to compensate are through growth and striving by studying or training harder, working on improving oneself. This way of compensation is not easy and a person starts looking for other, easier ones. The easy way around feeling inferiority – inferiority complex. “If only I was born at a different time and in a different place…; If only I had a talent; If only I was smarter, prettier, more fit etc…Then I could be successful!”. In this way, the individual avoids taking responsibility for his/her inaction and blames external factors or circumstances for not getting what he wants.
Thinking this way often leads to developing a “superiority complex”. People who wear expensive clothes, having rings with rubies on all their fingers etc., clearly broadcast into the world signs of this complex. Individuals making a show of being in close relationships with a powerful person or belonging to a certain brand or community. People try to look bigger, better, more important borrowing the power from the ones that perceived in such a way.
I am sure you know someone who always seems to be talking about his/her achievements. Someone who always tells the stories about his past glory and recounting memories when he was younger, stronger, richer etc. All those people are more likely to be struggling with superiority complexes.
People boast about things out loud because they don’t have confidence in themselves. Feeling inferiority is what makes people to boast. Confident people don’t have the need to boast. There is a fear of not being accepted the way he or she is. This is what makes individual to continually work on creating a better, more successful image of of themselves.
The person that talks about all kinds of misfortunes that he experienced in a boating manner. Then when someone tries to help him or suggesting the changes to be made or actions to take, he refuses to accept the help with the following statement: “You just don’t understand…”
Above is a great example of how people try to make them “special” by using their experiences with misfortunes. Those people who constantly talk how unfortunate they are and how much they suffered are using their misfortunes to their advantage. The goal is to make other people around worry about them just to restrict their behaviors or speeches and eventually control them. For as long as person uses his misfortunes and suffering to their advantages in order to feel “special”, they will always need that misfortune.
“In our culture weakness can be quite strong and powerful. In fact, if we were to ask ourselves who is the strongest person in our culture, the logical answer would be, the baby. The baby rules and cannot be dominated”, Adler
The highest correlation with happiness is the sense of community
Are you part of the community?
Do I have a sense of belonging?
Do I have meaningful relationships?
Do I do meaningful work?
You are the ONLY one who cares the way you look
A lot of people see life as a competition. Such people see every human being as a potential or actual competitor. There are winners and there are losers. There are a victory and defeat. You don’t want to be a looser. Such perception of life puts a lot of stress and pressure on the individual as he or she has to constantly scan the environment for competitors and compare oneself to other people. When you perceive everyone as your enemy, you begin to believe that other people look down at you as their competitor. You think you are being watched by others, so just they can attack you at the right moment. It’s not true! You are the only one who is so worried about the way you look. No one else gives a f*ck, just you. People around the world aren’t paying attention to you.
People are your comrades, not the enemies!
What if someone tries to attack me intentionally, personally?
Everything human beings do, they do out of self-interest. When someone is trying to abuse you in any way, either emotionally or physically, they have a specific hidden goal in mind.
Example: a child misbehaves and pranks the adult until he gets angry. Is the child’s goal to make adults angry? His goal is just to get attention. If a kid doesn’t stop after an adult gets angry, then his goal to get into the fight. His goal is to win the fight and prove his power over the adult.
If you got drawn into the discussion and you get angry, you give the other person exactly what he’s waiting for and the fight begins. No matter what the provocation is, don’t get taken in!
There is someone you dislike. You don’t dislike him because of his flaws or something he/she said or did. You already had a goal to dislike the person, so you found a reason to do so. You searched for his/her flaws, which was not hard to find as no one is perfect.
Example: A married couple begins fighting with each other after living 10 years in harmony. One person gets annoyed by another’s flaws or the ways he/she looks, acts, talks etc. In fact, the person who’s being criticized hasn’t changed at all for the past years lived together. The individual that is criticizing simply made a decision, set a goal to end the relationship and simply searching for the “legitimate reasons” to end it.
There is no Need For Recognition
Being recognized feels good, but it’s not necessary to be happy.
By searching for recognition and social acceptance you live your life to satisfy the other people’s expectations. When your decisions in life become based on what other people will think of you, you don’t live your own life, you live the other people’s lives. Living in a way, where you constantly searching for recognition is living in a constant state of fear. Such people are afraid of being judged as a result of not meeting their expectations.
It’s not your task to make other people like you. What other people think of you, likes or dislikes you, that’s the other person’s task and not yours. Because you are worried about how other people are looking at you, you are afraid of being judged. To protect yourself from emotional pain that could come with judgement, you seek for recognition. In fact, as already mentioned before, you are the only one who’s worried about the way you look.
However, you might attempt to change the way other people think of you. To do so, you will need to meet their expectations. Expectations people have of you are not staying the same, they always expect more and more. When expectations are so high that you can’t meet them you will get judged. Therefore going this route is a temporary solution to the fear of judgment and rejection. But what’s worse: to experience emotional pain from being judged by others or to realize that you haven’t lived your own life? Will it hurt more to realize that by constantly trying to meet your bosses, your parents, friends, your spouses or other people’s expectations you lived their lives, not your own? If you didn’t live your life, then who did?