Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to:
1.Let yourself feel emotions other than happiness.
Happiness is great. I love happiness. But to feel happy 100% of your life is not human. Happiness doesn’t mean denying other feelings like frustration, sadness, disappointment, etc. It takes some confidence and skill to allow yourself to feel those other emotions, trusting that they are not permanent and other opportunities to feel happiness will present.
In his book, The Compassionate Mind, Paul Gilbert explains the importance of recognizing all emotions:
“As we grow up, we must be able to experience and understand emotions and allow other people to help us to accept and comprehend them. How can we do that if we don’t express them to some degree and learn from that experience?"
Embracing emotions is hard. But “hustling” (as Researcher/Author Brené Brown terms avoiding truth and vulnerability) over a lifetime is even more exhausting.
We all make mistakes as we learn throughout life. That is ok. But we may not afford ourselves the same forgiveness or encouragement that we easily offer to others. In his book, Emotional First Aid, Dr. Guy Winch warns, “The negative generalizations we often make after failing are not only inaccurate but they do more damage to our general self-worth and our future performance than the initial failure that spawned them."
Owning responsibility is a first step. In his Psychology Today blog post on admitting fault, Dr. Alex Lickerman candidly shares how to begin the process:
"I've had to learn to admit first to myself when I've been at fault and allow myself to be so—to remind myself constantly that being at fault doesn't represent a character flaw. I've let go of my need to be right by becoming more interested in becoming better. (If I refuse to ever acknowledge I'm wrong, not seeing the need for improvement, I'd have no real motivation to make any attempts to improve myself—and then my ego would stand as the greatest barrier to my own happiness.)"
3. Switch up our routines.
Why do you do the things you do? It’s amazing how routines begin and then persist for years before we question why. Brené Brown nails it when she writes, “…I think about how often we all try to solve problems by doing more of what’s not working – just doing it harder, grinding it out longer. We’ll do anything to avoid the lowest of the low – self-examination."
Try this mindfulness exercise: Tell the story of how you got to the present moment from the time you woke up. List every step in detail. Instead of simply starting with “I woke up” – I would say “I woke up to my phone alarm that was located across the room. I put it there so that I have to get up to turn it off and I'm less likely to hit snooze”. This won’t produce the most intriguing of stories, but it helps you to look at daily practices and the logic that goes into your choices. If something isn’t right – you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t seem to have enough time, you don’t feel satisfied with your social life – look in depth at the story of your day, month, year. Why do you do what you do and what is one thing you can try differently?
4. Ask for help. It makes you seem more genuine to others.
According to Brené Brown, "When you judge yourself for needing help, you judge those you are helping". She normalizes that looking to others for help is “… human and foundational to connection”. In fact, Brown writes that when interviewing leaders to identify behaviors that help them to trust others, top answers included:
- “I trust people who will ask for help or support.”
- “If someone asks me for help, I’m more likely to trust them because they’re willing to be vulnerable and honest with me.”
Struggling with the concept of vulnerability? I recommend two of Brown’s books, Rising Strong and The Gifts of Imperfection.
5. Seek therapy.
Lots of people you know have seen therapists. They just don’t advertise it. There is nothing wrong with seeking support for yourself or a relationship. SAS has a fantastic Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefit and the Work/Life Department can assist SAS employees to find therapists that may be a best fit. No EAP? Start by using Psychology Today to research therapists by area and insurance provider. No insurance? Use this treatment locator to find some providers who offer sliding scale fees.
It is also okay to comment on this blog post 🙂 I'd love to hear your thoughts.