7 steps to a happier life!

7 steps to a happier life!

Live the happy life you deserve!

Talking yourself down all the time makes life harder and hinders you in achieving your goals. It’s time to break up with your inner critic and focus on the positive!

Negative habits, such as speaking to ourselves unkindly and constantly putting ourselves down, often become deeply entrenched, so it can take some time and effort to change. These strategies will help you take a step back,
re-evaluate your worth, and like (perhaps even love!) yourself more…

1. Take stock

Accept that you’ll never be completely confident in your skills or appearance. Freeing up time spent worrying about what you’re not, and forgetting about what might go wrong, allows you to focus on tackling a task or changing things within your control to improve your prospects.

Appreciate the aspects of your personality, looks and principles that you do like. In terms of performance, research shows that sportsmen and -women who experience a little selfdoubt outperform those who are super confident.

2. Be aware

When you find yourself in a stressful state, describe it to yourself, says Brodie Welch (Life in Balance Strategies Brodiewelch.com). ‘Wow, I’m really struggling (frustrated/ ashamed/stressed/hurt) right now. This is hard!’ (Identify it as one of those times when you might be tempted to beat yourself up – but DON’T!) She advises you to ‘make peace with your vicious inner critic… and soften into a kinder inner relationship with “your wife”.’ (You, that is!) Taking the stance of a witness/observer can totally alter your experience of feeling unsure.

3. Keep your emotions in check

Monitor how your emotions control your thinking and behaviour. Feeling anxious feeds doubtful thoughts and impacts your performance negatively, unless you actively regulate it.

‘Pay attention to how your emotions influence your choices. If your anxiety skyrockets, calm your body and your mind by taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or distracting yourself with mundane tasks. Don’t allow short-term discomfort to convince you to bail out, give up, or cave in.’ – Amy Morin, Psychologytoday.com

4. Where’s the evidence?

When you encounter serious self-doubt try to establish the grounds for it. Is there any truth behind your
perceptions/misconceptions? Make lists – write down the ‘proof’ that makes you think you CAN and CAN’T do
something. You might see things in a more realistic light when it’s down on paper. Your self-doubt may not
disappear instantly, but you’ll be able to reduce your insecurities to a level you can manage, making you feel
less overwhelmed.

5. Stay in the present

Whether you’re presenting to a crowd of strangers or – finally! – taking away your tween’s smartphone after threatening to do so several times, telling yourself ‘I’m going to embarrass myself’ or wondering whether you’re doing the right thing will only distract you. Ignore that inner voice and stay focused.

Give yourself a quick pep talk before acting… Saying ‘All I can do is my best’ is a reminder that you don’t need
to be perfect. This way your energy will be where it needs to be – on your performance or staying resolved in
order to discipline your child effectively, instead of vacillating between thinking and acting.

Remind yourself: ‘It’s okay – everyone feels like this sometimes.’ You’re still worthy of love, care, and forgiveness, like the rest of humanity; you’re also not perfect.

6. What’s the worst that can happen?

Our catastrophic predictions make us masters of exaggeration. So what if you make a mistake – is it really so bad? Even if things go badly, they’re unlikely to be life-altering! Remind yourself that in a few months and years from now, a few errors in judgement or failing to get that promotion probably won’t matter that much. In fact, good things might come from a change of fate. Keeping perspective will help calm your nerves.

7. We all suffer sometimes

Never think your tough times are unique to you. Grief, shame, loss, stress, fear and regret are all part of life. It might conflict with your superhuman standards at first, but join the human race – letting yourself off the hook sometimes doesn’t mean you’ll deviate to the opposite end of the scale! Everyone makes mistakes; you shouldn’t have to be perfect. ‘Recognising your “common humanity” is a key component of self-compassion,’ writes Kristin Neff, author
of Self-Compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself.

Why it’s so hard for a loved one to love you if you don’t love yourself:

  • You look to him to ‘fill your gap’, which translates into excessive neediness and makes him feel loved for what he does for you and not for who he is.
  • You project your inadequacies onto him. Communication might break down from you reading the worst into what he says, going so far as not believing him when he offers compliments. Your continuous rejection of his support will wear him down.
  • You feel you’re not worthy of him, or reject and accept him in different circumstances. Your inconsistency is confusing and hard to live with.
  • You tear yourself down as quickly as he tries to build you up. When his well-meaning efforts amount to nothing, over time this will start to affect his wellbeing. When his needs are neglected or suppressed,
    something needs to change. Your happiness isn’t his responsibility – it’s yours.

Don’t beat yourself up

When you’ve lost your temper with your partner, forgotten something important or let someone down unintentionally, what good will it do to flog yourself with self-recrimination and shaming self-talk? It changes nothing, and you’ll doubly regret drowning your sorrows with a bar of chocolate (or cigarettes, alcohol, overspending, or whatever your
comfort demon is.)

‘Be a good friend to yourself even when you’ve missed the mark and fallen short of your own


Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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