I have a couple of dear friends who are deathly afraid of being alone. They worry about it. They cry—hard—when they think about it. The source of this fear started when they were very young; their parents were not loving and literally made them feel worthless. That feeling of worthlessness stayed with them into adulthood, and affected all of their decisions and relationships.
What does this have to do with “learning more to earn more”? A lot.
If you are happy with yourself, and happy to be alone, all sorts of things are possible. You can move through this adventure called life with confidence and joy. Each new experience—even the really difficult ones—can be enlightening, encouraging, and even inspiring. Setbacks are seen as learning experiences, not barriers to success.
If you are not happy with yourself, life can get pretty depressing. Your own feelings of worthlessness come into play when bad things happen. Bad things happen to everyone, but when you don’t like yourself, and something bad happens, you feel as if you are somehow singled out, that you are especially unlucky and hopeless. Once a loser, always a loser, is what your mind keeps telling your heart. You feel as if you are always climbing the same mountain and you will never, ever get to the top. Little things seem like big things; being late or losing an earring or breaking your screwdriver can ruin your whole day—or even a whole week.
It is possible to leave this sad place, though, and to live a happy life. But first you have to make one decision.
You have to decide you’re not going to beat yourself up anymore.
Have you ever truly paid attention to your self talk? If you make even a small mistake, do you say things like, “You are an idiot. There you go again. I can’t believe that you did that.” Or, “You’re going to be late, and you won’t be dressed correctly, and everyone will think you’re useless.” We talk to ourselves in ways we would never dream of talking to others.
What happens when we do this? We are telling ourselves a story about ourselves. We are telling ourselves that we are stupid, clumsy, and inept. Our body, the same body that lifts a finger when we ask it to lift a finger, takes this line of thinking as a truth. Our body starts to agree. Our body starts to give up. Why bother fighting to be healthy, if no one cares? What’s the point?
Make no mistake: Our body is fighting to survive, 24/7. Our immune systems have disease-fighting cells, such as T-cells. Here’s a great illustration of some T-Cells going after a cancer cell (courtesy of Nature magazine, Eye of Science / SPL):
We are either helping our bodies do this, or doing just the opposite. We are either encouraging ourselves to keep trying, saying the kinds of things we would say to a friend (“Don’t worry, you’ll get through this. You are strong, and kind, and persistent. You’ve gotten through other things like this in the past, and you’re going to do it this time.”)
Talking like this tells our body, “You don’t have to be afraid. We’ve got this.” Instead of shifting into fight or flight mode, which will only make things worse, your body can go on about its business, helping you do what needs to be done without overstressing your nervous and glandular systems.
This all boils down to comforting yourself. Personally, I don’t think there is enough comfort in the world right now. Most of what we get through various media is fearful, gossipy, angry, confrontational, and demeaning.
You can’t imagine now how much different your life will be once you start to realize the terrible things you’re telling yourself. Even saying, “It’s alright. It’s alright.” over and over as you work on some tasks can be helpful.
Comfort provides hope. Hope generates increased energy. Energy leads to accomplishments. Accomplishments lead to satisfaction. Satisfaction is a nice solid form of happiness. Happiness due to satisfaction increases our confidence. And increased confidence helps us stay calm the next time we are faced with a challenge.
Kind people often think of self-confidence as a narcissistic lie. They assume that it’s selfish to be self-confident. But that isn’t true. Confidence enables us to go after the next task with gusto, knowing that we can and will figure out how to make it work. It’s not a bragging kind of thing, it’s a tool that we use to help our bodies and minds work their hardest on the problem.
When you find yourself saying terrible things to yourself, start comforting yourself instead. “It’s alright. You are running a little late, but just stay calm. You may even get there on time, if you only focus on getting dressed right now.” Be that loving, encouraging, calming voice in your head.
Now you can be happy with yourself
Once you’ve developed this new habit, you will find that you are much more comfortable with yourself, and you will start to be happier when you are by yourself. For the first time in your life, you will have a friend, with you, 24/7. Someone who understands you, sympathizes with you, encourages you, and just generally makes you feel better. Someone who is patient and forgiving. You will start to learn to laugh at yourself, in a good, healthy way, and not worry so much about your mistakes.
You will be calmer. Ironically, more people will want to be around you, because you are comfortable with yourself. You won’t be asking them to give you what you should already be giving yourself. They won’t feel neediness emanating from you; they will feel a calm, attractive confidence.
You will be able to enjoy every moment of your life, no matter what you’re doing or where you are, alone or with others.
One last shortcut
Thankfulness is another shortcut to happiness. We tend to focus on (or even obsess about) what we don’t have, rather than being thankful for what we do have. That’s another destructive thought pattern. The opposite is being thankful even for the little things.
If you find yourself playing some negative tape in your head, look down at what you’re doing and be thankful for what is right in front of you: “Thank you for hands I can wash the dishes with. Thank you for warm running water. Thank you for feet I can stand on and eyes I can see with.”
Keep this up, and the negative thoughts start to lose their power, until one day you realize they have left you all together.
All you have to do is exchange one thought pattern for another, and you will be on your way to building a very happy life.