Have you ever uttered the phrase “my life sucks”? How about this one: “I hate my life!”
I get it. What else can we say when it feels like the entire universe is conspiring to make life as difficult and depressing as possible?
If you’re wondering “why does my life suck so much” and you’re ready for a change, settle in and take notes.
We’re going to look at six of the biggest reasons that make us feel “my life sucks” and ways we can start turning that into “I love my life!”
BAD DAY OR BAD LIFE?
We all have those dark days when joy is nowhere to be found.
A flat tire in the middle of a thunderstorm, the boss calling a last-minute meeting when all we want to do is go home early and finally getting home only to find that the last slice of cake we were saving has “gone missing”.
Yea, those days.
Here’s the thing...even as we sigh deeply and proclaim “my life is miserable” - we know these are temporary situations.
We aren’t really going to throw the whole relationship away because our partner ate the last slice of cake. We aren’t going to quit our job because of a late meeting or abandon our car on the freeway because of a flat tire.
The truth is, apart from the occasional bad day, most of us don’t really hate our lives. In fact, even when life is stressing us, we usually feel that - overall - life is pretty okay.
So, If you’re reading this because you’ve just had a random bad day - go make a cup of tea, put on a funny movie, take a warm bubble bath, hit the bed early and wake up ready to reclaim your joy.
But, if you’re feeling like your life is a train wreck and when you say "I hate my life", it’s not just a bad day talking, keep reading!
We're going to take a close look at the six big reasons your life feels like you are stuck in a big pile of "meh". Even better, we're going to start working our way out!
#1 TRYING TO CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE
Ironically, one of the very first things we want to change when we are unhappy in our own lives is the thoughts and actions of others.
We may want a demanding boss to reward our hard work. We may want an uncommunicative partner to show emotional support. We may want an inconsiderate family member to respect our time. We may want a non-supportive friend to have our back.
That's a lot of changes we want other folks to do before we can get on with improving our lives. And guess what? It's probably not going to happen.
It's easy to think that we are stuck in our present situation until other people begin to change their behavior. So we focus all our time, energy and attention on trying to change others.
But, that’s not how it works.
A giant step in getting “unstuck” is simply accepting that we can't control the behavior or thoughts of other adults.
We simply can’t.
Whether it’s a spouse, a co-worker, a family member, a boss or a friend – we may influence, but we do not have the ability to force, cajole or convince them to change.
That's just reality.
SHIFT THE FOCUS
When we shift focus entirely on what we – and we alone – can do differently, we start to clearly see the wealth of possibilities.
Perhaps we need to pursue a new job or a complete change of career. Maybe we need to return to school to complete a degree or acquire a new skill set.
Maybe the change needed is to expand our social circle, get in better shape or walk away from a toxic relationship.
But, we don't know, and can't turn our full attention to making those changes, until we stop trying to change how other people think and act.
#2 NEGATIVITY OVERLOAD
We have access to the latest information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
That’s A LOT of news coming our way.
As a political news junkie myself, I understand the desire to always be informed of the latest events. But, staying informed does not mean feasting on a constant diet of negativity.
It’s human nature to pay closer attention to and/or seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs. That’s why negative news reinforces - or even increases - our negative perception of life.
If we are in a mental space that says “life sucks” we are more likely to gravitate to the news sources that feed into that belief.
And there are plenty of them. After all, scandal, tragedy, natural disaster, and crime make good copy and alluring headlines.
IN SEARCH OF POSITIVITY
But, there are also wonderful, happy, positive things happening every single moment all over the world - and right in our backyards. We need to consciously seek out these type of positive and uplifting news stories.
Making a conscious effort to seek this type of information has a circular benefit. We are shifting our worldview away from a dour outlook of “life is generally miserable” to a “life is generally happy” perspective.
In fact, we are literally training our brains to focus on and pay attention to the positive things that make us happy.
As we start viewing the world as a happier and more positive place, we unconsciously start seeking out positive events that confirm that bias.
#3 SOCIAL MEDIA
Whether it’s a hefty daily dose of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest or following our favorite YouTube vloggers, we can spend a lot of time seeing snippets of seemingly picture-perfect lives.
That’s a problem.
Social media bombards us with images of people doing the things we want to do, enjoying the lives we want to live, achieving the successes we want to achieve. It’s easy to forget, especially when we are dissatisfied with our own lives, that many of the perfect lives we are focused on are heavily edited for public consumption.
There’s a reason that the more social media we consume the more depressed we can feel.
Even when we recognize that we’re only seeing an illusion, on some level we are still emotionally processing it as reality.
Naturally, we can be tempted to respond to this onslaught of perfection by creating our own flawless on-line portrait. Afterall, no one wants to look like a “loser” in a world of “winners”. It’s easy to slap some happy paint over our own lives and present it as reality on social media.
This type of posturing for social media might feel good in the moment, but it’s also part of the overall problem.
TAKE A STEP BACK & GET REAL
Social media allows us to temporarily step outside of our own unhappy reality into a virtual reality where our faux happiness is validated by likes and clicks and hearts and cute emojis. But you can’t concentrate on creating a real life you truly love when you are too busy creating a fake life for public consumption.
A relationship that you only see in carefully staged moments, does not, and should not be your #goals. And you lose the very real potential of improving, or even finding, your own great relationship when you're busy faking it instead of working on it.
Treat social media like it’s an expensive bottle of wine or a box of chocolate covered truffles. It’s great to have around as an occasional indulgence, but only really bad for you in large amounts.
#4 PEER ENVY
We don't always need social media to bring out the green-eyed monster of envy. We all have that one friend, relative, coworker, neighbor who seems to effortlessly manage the very things we struggle with.
Unlike the folks we view through social media, who we may not ever encounter in our daily lives, these are the people we interact with on a daily basis.
We may truly love and value the relationship, but we can still find ourselves questioning "Why not me?" when our best friend calls to tell us about her latest promotion while we are trudging off to our dead end job.
Comparing ourselves to our more successful peers is perfectly natural.
But, that type of envy can lead down a dangerous trail of negative self-talk. Even worse, that envy can seep into our interactions and damage our relationships, leaving us feeling even more isolated and unhappy.
“I need help with my life”
Too often we are so focused on solving the little problems that we aren’t seeing the bigger problems that are really creating our unhappiness. Sometimes we have to simply ask for help. Who better to seek advice from than the very people who are succeeding in the areas where we are failing?
Instead of wasting time unfavorably comparing ourselves to others and envying their success we can tuck away our pride and ask for help and advice.
Unless we are willing to open ourselves up, we completely miss the opportunity to learn important lessons from their success. Whether it’s personal or professional, the three key areas to focus on are:
- "What steps has this person taken that I can adapt to my own life to achieve similar results?"
- "What sacrifices has this person made and am I willing to make similar sacrifices?"
- "What resources did/does this person have and how do I gain access to the same or similar resources?"
# 5 EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES
There are people who will try to “steal your joy”. You know who they are.
The friends, relatives, co-workers, even partners who will downplay your accomplishments, point out the flaws in something you are happy to have completed and naysay your dreams.
These are the people close to us who manage to always move our emotional needle from feeling “wow, I feel great about myself” to “I could be doing much better”.
Maybe these people are just unhappy themselves and seeking companionship for their own misery.
Maybe they are genuinely concerned and want to shield you from disappointment.
But, friend or foe, when someone is successful in preventing you from feeling or expressing happiness, their intentions are irrelevant.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO CELEBRATE YOU
Are you surrounding yourself with people who enhance your life or subtract from it? That's an important question, and one we sometimes fail to ask. After all, don't our friends want us to be happy?
Let's answer that question with a little story time here.
When I’m in a good mood or something exciting happens, I react like a typical 2-year-old. I make up a little song, do a little dance, maybe even clap my hands. Don’t judge.
I once had a close, probably well-meaning, friend who remarked: “boy, if you only knew how silly you looked when you did that!” Not only was I crushed in the moment, I found myself increasingly self-conscious about how I expressed myself whenever I was happy about something. And, inevitably, I became a less happy person when we spent time together.
Fortunately, I had another friend who said: “you are so cute when you get excited”. And, one day I realized that I was always happier spending time with the friend who not only accepted my quirks but embraced them.
The lesson learned? Sometimes you have to declutter your life by chucking out the people who drain your happiness.
We all need friends - none of us need frenemies.
#6 THE ILLUSION OF BEING HELPLESS
Most of the time when we have that “I hate my life” feeling it’s not because of the problems we face, but because we feel there is no real solution to these problems.
When we feel helpless, it can seem as though we are at the bottom of a deep hole with no way to climb out. But, that feeling is an illusion.
I’m going to tell you something important: No matter how helpless you might feel, you are not powerless.
That’s not a “feel good” statement - that’s a fact. Let it really sink in.
While it’s true that you might lack all of the tools and the resources you need, it’s also true that you have the ability to gain these needed assets. That’s because we have a power we forget about when we are feeling helpless. We have the power of change.
CLAIM YOUR POWER
The power of change is our biggest asset. It’s not always an easy or quick process, but, when we remember we have that power, we can start looking for, and finding, ways to use it.
Our lives are fluid, not carved in stone. That means we get the awesome opportunity to create a new, improved version every single day.
The next time you find yourself feeling that your life sucks, simply change the narrative and frame your question in the context of power instead of helplessness.
Instead of asking yourself “why do I hate my life?”, ask yourself “what can I do to change my life?”