|Photo courtesy D. Sharon Pruitt, Pink Sherbet Photography|
Comparisons. I can be feeling perfectly fine about myself and suddenly crash and burn because I started comparing myself to someone else…my neighbor, a fellow freelancer, a friend, even my husband! I look at my personality and accomplishments and feel inferior. How does she achieve so much in the same time I have? It sure looks like he is having a great time while I’m over here tongue-tied and sweating. You get the picture.
This is where my shaky self-esteem reveals itself. I tend to denigrate what I’ve done—“Oh, it’s not that hard to do such-and-such (because if I’m able to do it, anyone can)”—or compare what I perceive to be my weakness with someone else’s strength.
Comparisons in which I come out ahead can be dangerous, too. I become less empathetic—because, once again, if I can do it, anyone can! It’s easy to become critical of others when you “compare down.”
Guilt. I must have some sort of overactive guilt gene, because I fight guilt feelings all the time. Even when I’m occupied in something “productive” I find myself feeling guilty about not doing something else that’s productive. Crazy, huh? And the guilt alarm bells really go off when I do something just for me, which I do quite frequently despite the guilt. I may do whatever-it-is, but the guilty feelings shadow my happiness. It’s far too easy to let guilt become too large a part of the emotional landscape.
“What people think.” How many times do we do things—or avoid doing them—because of what other people think? Women especially have a hard time with this because we’re often raised to be people-pleasers. We want to be liked and we want to fit in. That’s not bad unless it causes us to give up essential dreams and parts of ourselves to do so.
I wish I could say I’ve conquered these happiness busters, but I’m still working on it. At least I’ve learned to recognize when they appear, and sometimes I even manage to banish them. It helps when I remember my belief that we’re basically all doing the best we can. Sure, we fail and make mistakes, but we’re human. At times, failures and mistakes are the best we can do while we stretch outside our comfort zones.
What are some of your happiness busters? How do you handle them?