If you want to feel better, you must first understand the REAL reason why you are feeling the way you are. In this episode, you will discover seven sneaky thought errors and what to do about them. When you get to the root of your dissatisfaction, you can take your power back regaining peace and joy.
Take this work and apply it in my cost-effective coaching group Clarity+Courage, where you will get live coaching, application tools, workshops, lessons, Scripture studies, and other tools that help you apply the concepts so you can create change. When you join, you get access to a whole vault of classes, tools, and coaching calls.
Learn more at https://www.myhappyvault.com.
Questions? Email Jill directly at Jill@thehappiestlives.com
You're listening to The Happiest Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard, episode number six.
Welcome back, everyone.
Today we are continuing our series on How To Have A Happy Life, and today we are looking at why you aren't happy. I want you to think of some aspect of your life where you feel dissatisfied. Maybe you're frustrated or disappointed. Maybe there's just a sense of discontentment.
Now I want you to identify why you think you feel this way. Many of us will point to the circumstance that we're experiencing.
My husband said words. Something happened in my childhood. I can't have kids.
In between your circumstance and the way you're feeling about it is your thought. This is how you're assessing the situation. What you're making it mean. Whatever that thought is, that is what's creating the feeling you're experiencing.
If you're feeling anxious, worried, or unhappy, it's because of your assessment of your situation.
This is really good news because while you may not be able to change your situation, you can change the thoughts that are running the show. Your current thought is optional.
No one can tell you what to think or feel. Only you can decide.
I love the example in the Bible of Paul. He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and locked in chains. We could say those are really bad circumstances, and you should feel terrible if you are in that situation. You're justified to feel awful about those things.
And yet, Paul considered it all joy.
How did he do this? Why wasn't he distraught? Why didn't he feel defeated or discouraged?
It was because of how he thought about the situation; what he made it mean. He was focused on God's faithfulness and the good that could happen because of and despite his circumstances.
Your circumstances don't define your life. What we believe about those circumstances- that is what sets the course for our life.
When we believe that we are at the effect of what is happening outside of us, we will constantly find ourselves in a state of despair because, at the core, we feel powerless.
We think that life is just happening to us. It hasn't occurred to us that we can change things even if the circumstance says the same. Instead of putting our energy into what we can't control, we shift to what we can.
You may have a circumstance where you've been diagnosed with clinical depression or anxiety. And so chemically, there can be things going on, which is creating an emotional state for you. But what are your thoughts about that? What you think about your diagnosis will impact how you respond to it.
If I am having physical sensations of being panicked or anxious, I might believe that I shouldn't leave my house. And so I don't. I create a result that reinforces that anxiety.
But if I recognize the thought I shouldn't leave my house is a thought error and that I could think something different about the sensations that I'm experiencing in my body, I would allow the anxiety to be there and take action anyway from a new thought.
Now, I am not saying our goal is to create a feeling of euphoria. You won't want to feel exuberant and excited about everything that comes your way. There's gonna be times you want to feel sad. If my husband or children die, I want to feel sad about that. It would be weird if I didn't. I want to have the full human experience of all the emotions.
However, if I spend the remainder of my life in this state of despair and let that fuel my days, I will have a pretty unhappy life. I just want to be conscious about what I'm feeling, and I want to take ownership of what thoughts I am choosing. That feels very different than believing the circumstance is happening to me and my emotions are against my will.
If you find that you're constantly in a state of despair and unhappiness or discontentment, then you may have some thought errors going on.
You may have some beliefs running your life that aren't serving you. So here are some common thought errors that can contribute to these feelings of unhappiness.
The first one is negative self-talk.
If you find that you have a negative internal dialogue, where you're constantly criticizing yourself, and beating yourself up, then you're going to have a lot of feelings of worthlessness and poor self-esteem, which is going to make you further obsess about yourself.
If this is a thought error you find yourself in, you can create a new thought habit where you declare who God says you are and invest in His truths. The very first episode of this podcast is Who do you think you are? and it's about this very topic. There I shared what God says about your identity. You can choose the lies that the devil would whisper to you, or you could choose truths that the Lord says about you.
Now, with all these different thought errors, this one included, old thoughts will offer themselves to you because those thoughts have become habits. You don't have to eliminate the thoughts offering themselves, just know they will offer themselves, and you don't have to answer.
You can just notice them and say, "Okay, I see you. I'm choosing not to think that way anymore." And then you gently shift your energy to what you're going to think instead.
So, in this situation with negative self-talk, you could choose not to criticize and beat yourself up ever again. When negative self-talk offers itself, you can have a list of what God says about you, making those thoughts easily accessible. Memorize them. Consciously choose those thoughts over the enemy's lies.
I also think shifting your focus onto the Lord and his worthiness, his goodness, his attributes, all the things he has done, and his faithfulness will keep you from obsessing over yourself. You can let a negative thought of self be your cue to worship God, who is always worthy of praise.
Another way we can approach our negative self-talk is to accept and relax around our imperfections. "Okay. I have a bald spot on my head, and that's okay." Rather than thinking something is wrong with you.
If you do something regretful, rather than getting fixated on your failures, take a biblical approach and turn toward the Lord. Confess your sins and be willing to accept his grace and move forward. When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A second common thought error is catastrophizing. This is where we assume the worst-case scenario in every situation, and you feel anxious and stressed.
To break the habit of catastrophizing, open your mind to the best-case scenario. What is the best thing that could happen in this situation? What if taking that risk turned out amazing? Then the worst case scenario is you don't take the risk to avoid what could go wrong, but you miss out on the amazing experience you would have had had you taken the risk.
I also like to consciously look at the worst-case scenario and lean into it rather than pretending things will only go as I want them to go. I like to imagine what I think is the worst-case scenario and go there, seeing myself being okay in that situation-- relaxing into it. I imagine in that situation, that the Lord is still faithful, he would still be good. And I know this is true because I have heard testimonies of people who have experienced tragic things and still testify about the Lord’s goodness.
If I got a call that one of my kids was in a car accident and died, I would be devastated. You would probably find me curled up in the fetal position. I would want to be sad about this. But I also want to imagine myself experiencing that grief, opening myself up to the presence of the Lord. In this way, I relax into my greatest fear knowing even in the darkest pit, God is there. His grace is greater still, and I do not have to fear.
If I leave my job and start a business and it didn't work out, and I didn't have any income, maybe the worst-case scenario is I lose my house. Okay, that's all right. I'd figure something else out. I remind myself that no situation is the end of the story. It's just a part of the story that leads to the next chapter.
A third type of thought error is perfectionism.
If you have unrealistic expectations of yourself or other people, then you're going to feel disappointed and frustrated when things don't go as you planned. I like to think that everyone will let me down, and that's okay. When a friend doesn't meet my expectations, I don't have to be devastated, as that is part of life here on earth.
I also like to think that my husband wasn't meant to meet my deepest longings. Only God can occupy that place. In this way, I don't have perfectionistic standards for how he needs to show up.
I, too, will let myself down. I know that is an expected part of life and that, once again, God's grace is always sufficient.
In this case of perfectionism, we may have a rigid way of looking at how things should be. The antidote to perfectionism is making room for other perspectives of reality.
A fourth thought error is comparing ourselves to others.
If you're constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling like you don't measure up, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Notice your tendency to compare yourself and gently shift your attention to a new thought.
I like to think it's none of my business what's going on in somebody else's life, and that God can bless and use whoever he wants in whatever way he wants. God gives all of us different seasons. He gives us all of us different roles.
I also like the reminder that I'm part of a unit where each person has a part. I just want to do the best at whatever he's called me to do and know that my best is enough and I don't have to worry about a role or giftings God has given another person.
Others may assess your gifts, your personality, and ways God has blessed you using it against themselves and you, and yet they don't have the bigger picture of your life story. They don't know the valleys you have walked through. When we compare, we despair.
I like the verse, "You have assigned me my portion in my cup; my lot is secure in you." It reminds me that I have all I need, and I don't need to worry if someone has something I don't seem to have.
A fifth thought error is rumination.
This is when you dwell on negative thoughts or past events, leading to feelings of sadness, regret, and hopelessness. The past no longer exists. The only place the past exists is in our minds.
We perpetuate the past by bringing those thoughts into the present and the future. We will keep finding the evidence to keep those thoughts alive if we aren’t willing to believe something new.
You may have had some thoughts about your life that served you at one point, but they're not serving you now. Maybe you had some trauma in your childhood and latched onto some thoughts that kept you safe then; however, those thoughts aren't keeping you safe now. They are actually hurting you.
We must be willing to let the past go and set our eyes on new things to move into a hope-filled future. To leave the past behind and run the race, we must cast off all that hinders us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
To let the past go, find a way to tell your story, where it's not a story of brokenness but rather one of redemption. Complete the thought, "Because of my past or despite my past, this (FILL IN THE BLANK) exists today."
Or you can look for evidence of the thought, "I am grateful to be the person I am today because of my past" This result, of course, is due to your thoughts and finding new ways to assess your story in a way that serves you.
A sixth thought error is fear of the unknown.
If you're constantly worrying about the future and what might happen, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. You can use your imagination to create terrible things that are to come, or you can use your imagination to create good things in our future. Reminding yourself that God holds the future can help you move into the unknown with confidence.
The last thought error I want to address today is a lack of gratitude.
If you don't appreciate what you have in life, it can lead to feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction. We have to be intentional to stir up gratitude in our hearts.
To counter this, you can intentionally count your blessings or keep a gratitude journal. Reminisce on all the ways God has been faithful to you. For every fault, criticism, or complaint you find, look for five praises.
It is normal for us to want more as we long for our heavenly home. In this life, we will be filled with desires, longings, and yearnings. Isn't that what prayer is? It is making requests and turning toward the Lord with our heart's desires. But as you make requests, you want to do so with praise and thanksgiving, knowing you have all you need.
When we want from a place of lack, we feel desperate and fear disappointment. We get clingy. But when we desire and want from a place of having all we need already, knowing that the Lord takes good care of us, we will appreciate our abundance even as we make petitions. In this way, our hearts are full of gratitude whether we get what we ask for or not because we don't need it to feel blessed.
So I have given you 7 thought error habits that may steal your joy.
In summary, the reason you are not happy is not because of what you are making the circumstances mean. Be aware of what you're thinking about your circumstance and quit blaming your situation if you aren't happy. Other people and situations don't define your life.
Start looking at what other thoughts are possible for your life. If you believe happiness is just for others and not you, know that is a thought. And it's optional.
You are not at the effect of your circumstances. You're not at the effect of other people. God is greater than our circumstances, and he promises to renew our minds when we allow his truth to wash over us.
We always have hope. We always have a reason to rejoice.
Thank you all for listening today.
And don’t forget, I am here to help you take this work and apply it in my coaching groups. That is where we make real change…when we apply what we learned and look at very specific ways, this plays out in our lives.
I have got more for you on this topic of happiness. It's gonna be good..you won’t want to miss it.
Can’t wait to talk to you again next week.