How do people feel happy?


How do people feel happy? This is a question I often hear from my clients. In fact, I think it’s a question many of us have. We look around at others and think their lives are so different from ours. They are happy, and we are not. What have they figured out that we haven’t?

One thing that consistently impedes our ability to be happy is what we call the inner critic. Many of us, along the way, have fed and nurtured a voice in our head that says harmful things to us. You know the voice that tells you others are better than you, or you can’t do something because you aren’t smart enough, or that even the good things you have you don’t deserve and they could vanish at any moment?

“It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.” Sally Kempton

The judge that lives in our head comes from childhood. Usually it began as messages that we either heard directly or indirectly, from the people around us. As a child you are fully dependent on your parents for love and acceptance, and you will do anything to get that. We believe what our parents tell us about ourselves is true; we internalize the way they treat us as the way we deserve to be treated. That often becomes the source of that voice in our head that shames, criticizes and judges us.

How do people feel happy with this constant and persistent criticism going on? If you have thoughts that are devaluing, negative, and abusive, and you believe them, you cannot be happy. If you don’t believe them, you can be. Learn more about self compassion here.

How do people feel happy with a self critic in their head?

Step One

Know Your Critic’s Patterns

One skill you need have to combat these thoughts is mindfulness. learn more about mindfulness here. Becoming aware of your own personal self critic’s patterns helps you to separate from it. Most clients tell me they know on some level that many of the thoughts they have aren’t true. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware of the thoughts when we are having them. Rather than being able to distinguish them as patterns without validity, they take us over and rule our lives.

If you don’t ascribe value to your thoughts then they have no value. If you do they can rule your life. Conscious and intentional work on understanding your patterns is the first step to silencing the inner critic. It will help you to create a space between your thoughts, beliefs and behavior effectively giving you more choice over how you respond. This is how you start to challenge old scripts and patterns that are keeping you from enjoying life.

Use Journaling to Gain Insight

One good way to start becoming aware of your patterns is to journal. Journaling about what you are thinking and how it impacts the choices you make brings unconscious patterns into awareness. Once you have awareness you are free to challenge those thoughts.

How do people feel happy with a self critic in their head?

Step Two

Separate your Thoughts from You

After you become aware of the patterns, you can catch yourself in the midst of them. Labeling the patterns as the critic or the judging thoughts (or whatever you like) gives you distance from your thoughts and will create the space necessary to make change. Recognize that you are lost in critical or judging thoughts and step back. You can use your journal to do this, but soon it will become something you do in your head as this process is happening.

How do people feel happy with a self critic in their head?

Step Three

Challenge the critic’s ideas

The critic is almost always wrong. Develop a process of challenging the statements the critic makes. Work on this first in your journal and later it will become an automatic process linked to the steps above.

To learn more about how to be happy, click the links below.

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