Are We Allowing Ourselves To Be Happy?
Recently I’ve been thinking about happiness.
Obviously, there is some level of conscious control involved:
- We can choose to focus our attention on either the positive or negative around us.
- We can choose how much time we spend thinking about crappy events.
- We can choose (mostly) the kinds of people we surround ourselves with.
Additionally, if we choose to be loving, that’s the quickest path to feeling deeply happy in any given moment or interaction.
The weird thing I’ve noticed is that despite years of healing, I’m not particularly happy.
These days I’m incredibly peaceful, centred, content and mostly pretty calm – which for me are HUGE steps forward. I just haven’t felt any noticeable level of deep happiness.
Joy? Hell yes, just not consistent happiness.
So what’s been going on?
Eventually, I’ve realised that I’ve had a whole list of conditions that had to be met before I would allow myself to be happy.
- I could only be happy when I was in a fulfilling, supportive relationship.
- I could only be happy when my finances were sorted out
- I could only be happy when I had the respect of my peers (obviously, wanting approval)
- I could only be happy when my business was “successful” (whatever that means)
- I could only be happy if I got what I wanted
While consciously I may have been choosing to be happy (and taking appropriate steps), subconsciously I simply wasn’t allowing it to occur.
I WASN’T ALLOWING MYSELF TO BE HAPPY.
So, what next?
I got a piece of paper and wrote at the top “I’ll be happy when…” then made a giant list. All the conditions, all the expectations that had to be met before I was “allowed” to be happy.
(and yes, the alert among you will have noticed I’ve written about this before – but then, as with so many things, it’s not about knowing them intellectually, it’s about living them every day, in our hearts. Reminders are good, even for me. Especially for me. Also, there’s been a subtle shift. Before when I was doing this exercise it was to “get” something. Now it’s just to remove all limitations. Ie, for the sake of the exercise itself.)
All these conditions are, of course, utterly ridiculous. But then, this is just how our brains work half (all?) the damn time – against us.
Once I had the list, it was pretty straightforward (and as usual, quick) to just take each item back to wanting approval, wanting control or wanting safety, and simply let it go.
Of course, this isn’t going to be a one-off task. As we peel back layers of the onion we’ll see deeper and deeper into ourselves. We’ll be able to identify more and more subtle limitations.
The good news is, it’s a super quick exercise, and really, once you’ve got the hang of it, you could do it anywhere. While sitting at a bus stop. In the shower. While having a sandwich. In the shower with a sandwich! Just say to yourself “I’ll be happy when…” and see what your brain fills in for you.
All these conditions are standing between you and happiness. The more you let go of, the easier it gets to make that simple choice. To actually be happy. To feel happy.
To be honest, while I wouldn’t say I am now deliriously happy, I do feel as if several huge weights have lifted off me. I’m no longer dragging myself around quite as heavily. My soul is lighter and genuine smiles are closer and easier to reach.
I just need to keep doing this exercise. Keep working my way down through the layers till there’s nothing left.
Of course as with all of life, it’s a journey, not a destination. Today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be even better. What more can I ask?
Some additional phrases that might help you dig to the bottom of what’s holding you back:
- I won’t be happy unless…
- I can’t be happy because…
- I can’t be happy until…