The most dominant feeling I carry around with me is one of extreme social awkwardness. Which is strange, because most people who know me, would described me as a confident woman.
I’m aware that outwardly I am very skilful at presenting a positive and socially pleasing demeanor, while on the inside feeling anxious and exhausted from keeping up the act. Not just at work or at parties, but in my closest relationships too—with my friends, my family and, most bizarrely, with my fiancée.
Perhaps the reason I am/was so well liked by so many is because I would agree with just about everything anyone said, so I was no bother to them. In disputes, I’d take both sides. I was always the first to offer a hand when someone needed help, but not because I felt charitable; I just wanted them to like me more.
If I got angry or frustrated, which I did often, you would never have known it. You would have seen someone who appeared unflappable, regardless of the circumstances. If I was hurt, let down or disappointed, my lightening reflex was to smile and say, “That’s okay!” Somewhere along the line I had developed the philosophy that my happiness was dependent on the approval of others.
This meant that my level of contentment was proportionate to how pleased I thought others were with me moment to moment. Of course, the problem was that I rarely thought they approved of me enough, so I was rarely happy.
Now that I think about it, some of my earliest memories involve me trying extremely hard to be a “good girl,” to do what I was told, and how lonely it felt to fall out of favor with my parents. I never thought about what I wanted from life, only what would make others want to have me around.
The ultimate price I paid was my self worth, which I now know is fundamental to a truly satisfying and fulfilling life. Not only is authenticity vital for your relationships with others, but more importantly for your relationship with yourself.
Isn’t it funny how the strategies we use to protect ourselves from our deepest fears are often the exact same strategies that manifest our fears into reality?
Anywho I want to share with you three of the most important principles that I’ve learned about authentic happiness. I hope they inspired you:
1. We live the feeling of our thinking.
As William Shakespeare famously wrote, “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Being authentically happy starts with the realization that you are both the source and the cause of your own well-being.
We never get to experience the world as it really is; we only get to experience our thoughts about the world. It wasn’t actually other people’s disapproval that made me unhappy; it was my mistaken belief that happiness is something that comes from outside of me in the form of approval. Even when it looks as though your emotional state is being dictated by your circumstances, that is never true. Your thoughts are the root of your emotions. Just get curious and ask yourself, “If I weren’t thinking this way, how might I feel differently?”
2. Everything good is inside.
We each walk around with two versions of ourselves. One is our unconditioned self, which is innocent, flawless, and untouched by any trauma, criticism, or injustice we may have faced in life. The other is a learned self, more commonly known as the ego.
The primary role of the ego is to separate you from the truth of who you really are—a human being who is already complete, whole, and mentally and spiritually healthy. The ego believes that happiness is attained through material success, achievement, striving, earning, and deserving. I’ve often heard it described as “everything good outside.”
But your unconditioned self is the much bigger, wiser you. It already knows that you are what you seek; that real happiness is what naturally happens when you dare to show up unedited.
All the happiness you have been looking for outside of you can finally be yours when you stop chasing and start choosing.
3. Our relationship with ourselves determines our relationship with everything else.
One of the standout moments on my journey of self-discovery was hearing Dr. Robert Holden say, “No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”
Think about it…
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