MENTAL HEALTH: the best tips for being unhappy
BY Linda Hamilton
ARTICLES handing out advice on happiness cost ten percent and people often gloss over them, so let’s try a different approach – the first of two columns offering suggestions on how to be unhappy.
Relationship ended? Disappointing exam results? Are you losing those extra pounds? Well, be sure to criticize, blame, and put yourself down in the harshest way possible.
Routine self-criticism is psychologically devastating and is linked to, among other things, depression, multiple anxiety and personality disorders, and eating disorders.
Some people may try to persuade you that you are not useless and unkind, that you should become more compassionate, that you should view mistakes as learning opportunities, that your punitive opinions are unnecessary and wrong. They might recommend therapy or CBT books like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Dummies or Overcoming Low Self-Esteem by Melanie Fennell, but don’t listen to them. This article is about how to be unhappy, so that’s my best advice: remember that there’s no faster route to unhappiness than beating yourself up as often as you can.
Anxious to go to a social event? Do not go. Nervous about that office meeting? Call for the sick. Afraid to fly? Avoid airplanes. Think you deserve a raise but are afraid to ask your boss? Don’t ask him. Are you prone to panic attacks and afraid to panic in public places? Stay indoors. Do you like someone you know but are afraid to ask them out for fear of rejection? Don’t ask them.
Avoidance brings short-term relief but long-term pain. It saps your confidence, validates your fears, and makes you more anxious. It makes your world smaller and smaller, preventing you from living the life you want.
Tackling avoidance habits is usually the first thing I work on with clients, but whatever. If you want to be underconfident and unhappy, I can’t recommend avoidance enough.
Worry protects me, worry prepares me for the worst, it’s irresponsible not to worry – a mountain of research confirms that chronic worriers hold positive beliefs about worry, viewing it as a form of problem resolution. problems and emotional regulation. Worriers also hold negative beliefs about worry; they see worry as uncontrollable and therefore worry about worrying.
These beliefs are false. Worry is controllable and it does not protect you; it just makes you unhappy and, well, worried.
Likewise, most worries do not come true. And when they do, people almost invariably treat them better than they thought.
So most worries are just wasted time. It is a useless habit that robs you of happiness. So keep worrying, devoting as much time to it as you can.
Put away the positives
Did someone you know give you a compliment? They were just nice. People at work like you? They don’t know what you really look like. Have you won a sports competition? Fine, but you could still have done better. Someone said you did really well XYZ? Anyone could have done it.
CBT researchers describe low self-esteem as self-bias. Like any prejudice, you are quick to spot evidence that confirms your negative beliefs, but ignore evidence that contradicts them.
By regularly brushing aside the positives, you ensure that your self-esteem stays on the ground. It also keeps people trapped in a perfectionist cycle, where nothing is ever really good enough. If you’re looking to steal the joy of a good time, I highly recommend this mood-lowering strategy.
Active people are much less likely to be depressed. Exercise keeps us healthy, relieves stress and makes us feel better about ourselves. Even a simple walk in the evening can make you lose your head and lift your spirits quickly.
That said, when you’re tired after a long day, it can be tempting to say no to sports, to lounge in front of the TV for hours on end. The thing is, mindlessly flicking through TV channels or scrolling through your phone all too often dampens the mood. So make sure you do.
And while you’re at it, be sure to berate yourself for not exercising. Not exercising and at the same time fighting for not doing it – it’s a combination that guarantees that your mood gets worse and worse.