Your Beliefs and How They Can Make You Unhappy (2)
By: Beth McHugh 2007
Ever wondered why some people are happier than others? Most of us tend to put it down to the fact that these happy people have more money, better jobs, better behaved children, no children, close family, etc, etc.
Sure, these factors do play a huge part in how happy a person has the potential to be. But they are not the controlling factor. It is what we believe about ourselves and the world we live it that largely determines how happy or otherwise our lives are.
We have all heard the stories of the wealthy yet unhappy socialites, so it is not money that makes us happy. There are countless people who suffer serious illnesses who are happy, so it is not necessarily good health either that guarantees happiness.
So it basically comes back to our belief systems. This belief is a particularly destructive, yet relatively common one, to hold:
My feelings and behavior today will continue to be strongly influenced by what has happened to me in the past.
Hanging onto this belief is a recipe for lifelong unhappiness. Yet so many of us live by it. How many times do you think to yourself: If only Dad hadn’t been an alcoholic, I might not have started drinking myself.
Or: If only I’d had an opportunity to go to college, I wouldn’t be in this dead-end job. My parents just couldn’t get it together for me.
Or: If my husband had a more demonstrative personality, I would feel less insecure.
Or: If only my uncle hadn’t molested me. Things would be different.
None of these past events were the ideal scenario for a child, teenager or adult to experience. Especially the last one. However the point is that despite all of the negative events that might have happened to you in the past, it is your belief about them in the present that influences your quality of life today.
Sometimes we can just make a decision that we are not going to focus on the things that happened to us in the past. Each time they pop into our minds, we consistently move on to another, more positive thought.
However, some events are too painful and too traumatic to be able to work through them this way, and we may need the help of a professional counselor. Once we can be at peace with what happened to us in the past, and this does not mean forgetting what happened and in some cases, even forgiving the perpetrator, it is possible to live much more in the present and not in the past.
Our feelings and behaviors are not cast in stone by the things that happened to us in the past. Working to deactivate the power of these beliefs is the key to your present and future happiness.