We often think about how we can make our lives happier (which is great) but what about the other side of things? Do you ever think about how you make yourself miserable? How often do you think about the behaviors that end up making you miserable and unhappy? To be happier and more content, it helps to get clear on the things that make us miserable and start working on eliminating those behaviors from our lives. By cutting out or greatly minimizing how we make ourselves miserable we can lead the way in having a more joyous life.
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Let’s dive into how you are making yourself miserable with these 15 misery-making behaviors.
It goes without saying that if you are making yourself miserable with these behaviors, there is a good chance you are making the people around you miserable as well. Something to think about!
1. Expecting everyone to think and act like you
Expecting people to think like you and act like you is a surefire way to may yourself miserable because we all have our own opinions, interests, habits, and values.
Even if you have a lot in common with a person, you’re still going to have different views on life, so managing your expectations are important.
Let’s look at a common example – doing things for other people. You might be doing things for other people but then expect them to do things for you in return. You give because you expect to get something back.
Because the other people might not think like you, you feel miserable because they didn’t act the way you wanted them to and give back the way you expected. Resentment and frustration set in and before you know it there is conflict in the relationship.
If you manage your expectations of other people and do not expect them to be like you, you’ll be a lot happier and less frustrated.
Related posts –
- 6 Mistakes We Make Interacting with Other People That Harm Our Relationships
- 5 Communication Mistakes That Can Mess With Your Life
- 12 Best Books on Having Better Conversations
2. Expecting everyone to do what you tell them to
Trying to control other people is a shortcut to misery. A quick shortcut at that!
This is one of those behaviors that makes you miserable but also makes everyone else around you miserable as well.
None of us like being controlled by someone, being constantly told what to do, or being bossed around.
If you are trying to control everyone around you, you are in for some misery and disappointment because ultimately people need to be in control of their own lives and they are not going to do everything you tell them to.
Make yourself happier and work on being less controlling.
3. Expecting people to change
People can change. Many people have changed their bad behaviors, dealt with their troubled past, and created positive new habits that have moved their lives forward.
But here is the kicker. People only change when THEY want to.
You can’t force people to change or expect them to change just because you want them to.
Expecting people to change because you want them to is how you make yourself miserable.
The problem is that people often tell us they are going to change and because we desperately want to believe them we go along for the ride.
Unfortunately, it’s usually us being taken for the ride.
The behavior of the person stays the same and we feel worse. We feel miserable and to add insult to injury, we feel stupid for believing in them in the first place.
Don’t expect people to change. By all means, work to improve yourself and change your own habits but don’t expect other people to change.
Related posts and resources to start working on your own habits (because they are the behaviors you can change!) –
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (book) This is a brilliant, bestselling book on habits which I have read and highly recommend. I loved the section on identity, it really hit home for me!
- Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries and Daily Upgrade You Need to Make Them Stick by Jen Sincero (book)
- 10 Best Books on Habits – Learn How to Break Bad Habits and Create New Ones
4. Blaming other people for your problems
When you constantly blame other people for your problems, it shifts responsibility for your behaviors and actions and
places them onto someone else.
Or at least it feels that way.
By blaming, it feels like you can dump responsibility for yourself into someone else’s lap. Then it’s all their fault when things go wrong or your life isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.
Making it someone else’s fault means it’s not your problem to deal with, which gets you off the hook.
By not feeling responsible or in control of your own life, you can keep using your lame excuses over and over again.
But guess what – you’re still miserable.
Because now you’re stuck. You feel you have no control and other people are calling the shots.
Own your problems. Take responsibility and get back in control of your life. Stop blaming other people and work to turn things around.
Related posts and books –
- What to Do When You Feel Trapped
- 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin (book)
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz (book)
5. Not admitting you are wrong
If you have ever had the experience of dealing with someone who can never admit they are wrong then you will know how this ‘charming’ trait can make us miserable (not to mention infuriate everyone else).
We all make mistakes and we are all wrong at times but it becomes a problem when we can’t admit to being wrong. When we don’t acknowledge our own mistakes we limit our chance of personal growth. If you always think that you are right, you never get the chance to challenge yourself or your assumptions.
It’s only by being able to admit to being wrong that we can fix a problem or situation.
6. Not dealing with your emotions and pain
Gosh, the misery we inflict on ourselves by not dealing with our pain.
We make ourselves miserable by trying to not deal with and process our emotions. Most specifically our pain.
A good chunk of our self-sabotaging behavior is based on our wanting to not feel pain or discomfort or basically anything unpleasant.
Some people are experts at sweeping their pain under the rug (so to speak). Most of the time, however, the under rug sweepers are the most miserable, even if it doesn’t always show on the surface.
When we shop too much with money we don’t have, do drugs, drink too much, binge watch too much television, eat too much junk food, and get involved with people that we shouldn’t, it’s often because we are trying to drown out pain or an emotion that we are uncomfortable with.
We do it because (no spoiler alert here) pain hurts. It’s hard to dig into our own pain.
But digging into our pain is essential because ultimately that pain is coming out (or most likely acting out) somehow, so it’s better to have an element of control over it when it does because if you dive headlong into addictive or harmful behavior to avoid pain, it makes your life and your misery so much worse. It also hurts the people around you.
Related posts and books that can help deal with your pain –
- How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back From Happiness by Andrew Owen (book). This is one of my favorite self-help books. I learned a lot from this book that I can apply to my life and I highly recommend it!
- Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again by Lysa Terkeurst (book)
- Know your Emotional Trigger Words and How to Deal with Them
7. Overthinking everything
We all need to think about things, no doubt about that. But what about when we overthink. More to the point, what about when we overthink every little thing!
What happens is we make ourselves miserable. Right up there with our misery is feeling anxiety, suffering from insomnia, and feeling stressed.
I used to be an overthinker myself but focusing my thoughts, practicing mindfulness and journaling has helped me a lot.
I wrote a post specifically for how to stop overthinking so make sure you have a look –
8. Comparing yourself to other people
I admit I did think of leaving this one off the list because it is mentioned so often and talked about a lot. But then for that very reason, I realized I had to include it because even though we know we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves, many of us keep doing it!
We make ourselves miserable comparing ourselves to other people.
Comparing ourselves might involve small occasional chips away at our confidence or it could mean being bogged down constantly comparing yourself to other people either online or in-person. Both can do damage over the long term.
To stop comparing yourself, start with strengthening your sense of self-worth and getting focused on your goals and how you are going to achieve them (instead of what everyone else is doing).
Related posts and resources that can help –
- Comparisonitis: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Be Genuinely Happy by Melissa Ambrosini (book)
- How to Stop Comparing Yourself to People on Social Media
- 14 Ways to Deal with Being Compared to Other People
9. Feeling guilty all the time
Want to make yourself miserable? Feeling guilty all the time will do the trick.
For the purpose of this particular post, we’ll be looking at two types of guilt.
First up we have our guilt trips. This type of guilt is when other people try to make us feel bad when we are not doing something they want. Think along the lines of parents trying to make their adult children feel guilty for something so they will do a particular thing.
Then there is the guilt for us just living our lives. We are not hurting anyone but we feel guilty because we are doing something that we know someone doesn’t like. Think along the lines of wanting to move out of home but your family doesn’t want you to, so they make you feel guilty about it.
In both situations, people will try to use guilt to manipulate you to do what they want. But here’s an important thing to remember when it comes to guilt.
Guilt only works when you let it.
We get to control what guilt trips we go on and which ones we say – Nope, that’s not happening.
Choose wisely and increase your happiness.
Related posts on guilt –
10. Not thinking you are good enough
This is the big winner for how to make yourself miserable.
When you feel not good enough, constantly criticize yourself, and struggle with self-doubt you will make yourself miserable.
On the outside, you might come across as confident but deep down there is this nagging voice in your head saying awful things.
Some examples are –
- You’re not good enough
- You’re not worth it
- You’re a loser
- You’re an idiot
- You suck
- You’re fat
- You’re ugly
- What’s the hell is wrong with you?
If you struggle with not feeling good enough, I wrote an in-depth post on this topic, so make sure you have a read.
Resources that can help with your self-love and self-worth –
- Self-Love Workbook for Women – Release Self-Doubt, Build Self-Compassion and Embrace Who You Are by Megan Logan MSW LCSW (book)
- How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence – by Mel Robbins (online course). I took this course myself and got a lot out of it. You can read my course review here.
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (book). This is another one of my favorite books. It’s uplifting, funny, and gives you a much-needed loveable kick!
11. Staying in a toxic relationship
Whether it’s a spouse we are not compatible with, living with a family member that we don’t like or even a friendship that has turned toxic, staying in a bad relationship will make us miserable.
Leaving relationships is not easy. I know that from experience myself. When I was younger I stayed in far too many bad relationships for far too long. Staying in bad relationships comes at a price and it can lead to misery and regret.
Working on your self-worth can help you make the break. Read why having a high sense of self-worth is so important – 10 Ways High Self-Worth and Self-Esteem Has a Huge Impact on Your Life
Since this is such a diverse and complicated topic and I certainly can’t cover it in one paragraph, I have listed some books that may help (depending on your situation naturally).
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist by Ramani Durvasula Ph.D. (book)
- Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall (book)
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (book)
12. Making misery a competition
Wanting to win the misery competition is going to make your life a big pile of misery. No big surprise there really!
I think sometimes when we are going through a tough time, we can unintentionally end up in this place. We feel sad, overwhelmed, and miserable. When someone starts talking about their problems, we tell them about ours, often making sure our problem sounds worse than theirs.
When people add an awful detail to their misery story, we one-up them with a worse one of our own. Before you know it, there’s a misery competition going on and in this competition, everyone loses!
To win, don’t play in the first place.
Related posts –
- Do We Talk Too Much about Our Problems? Time to Talk About Our Joys
- Do People Care About Your Problems?
13. Living someone else’s life or values instead of your own
When you live someone else’s life or values instead of your own, it’s a recipe for misery and unhappiness.
You might be working hard, achieving everything on your to-do list, and working through your goals but still be unhappy.
You are unhappy because you are living someone else’s life or living someone else’s values. Being truly content means living your own life by your own values.
Work out what YOU want and go after it.
14. Dreaming big without actually doing anything
I am all about dreaming and goals and doing amazing, wonderful things. I’m all for personal growth and fulfilling your incredible potential.
But if you want to be miserable here is a surefire way of making that happen.
Constantly talk about all the things you want to do with your life and then do absolutely NOTHING to make them actually happen.
Yep, that will do it.
Instead, stop talking and start doing. Make a start. Do the work and make things happen instead of just dreaming about it. Start right now (I’ll forgive you for not finishing the post if you get started right this second!)
Related posts –
15. Not seeking help when you need it
We might not realize this one makes us miserable because what it really does is keep us stuck.
When we stay stuck in the same place, feeling crappy but not doing anything about it, we may up feeling miserable, angry, resentful, frustrated, disappointed, and a whole bunch of other not-so-fun emotions.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
By reaching out for help we can turn our lives around. The assistance you need might be talking to a medical professional, seeing a trained counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, or working with a life coach.
There is no shame in asking for help. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and courage.
Personally, I have reached out for help from counselors on several occasions in my life and it has always helped me. Counseling has helped me move forward when I was bogged down and stuck.
One of the most positive turning points in my life was working with a personal coach.
If you need help, please reach out, it could be a positive turning point for your life as well.
Stop making yourself miserable
Reading through this list highlights one of the main things that make us miserable.
So what’s this big thing, that affects all the behaviors above – it’s our thoughts.
Our thoughts can help make us miserable. You might think I’m going to tell you to think positive thoughts and avoid negative ones. But I’m not going to say that.
We all have negative thoughts. The key is not letting them stick around and take over. Think of your thoughts as buses moving through a busy station. Some stop and drop things off, some go straight through without stopping and some break down on the platform and wreck the joint!
You want your negative thoughts to be like the bus that passes straight through the station. It’s gone, doesn’t drop anything off and you quickly forget all about it. Instead, you focus on the joyful, inspiring, creative, motivated bus that just dropped a lot of great things off for you. (I do realize things aren’t quite this simple but it’s a good first step!)
The choice is yours, you can work towards making yourself happier or you can continue with behaviors that make you miserable. It’s up to you.
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Read Next – 10 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem and Self-Worth