We are all different, but if there is one thing I have learned in the time I have been working in the clinic, it is that some things are generalised to almost all human beings. Scratching a little, the reasons for suffering tend to coincide in a high percentage.
That is why it has occurred to me to summarize here what are the main causes of suffering that I observe in therapy, which make us feel bad for longer than we should and with more intensity.
How to avoid unnecessary discomfort
At this point, almost everyone knows that this journey is not a bed of roses, but with some guidelines, perhaps we can have as much fun as necessary, no more.
Here is a list of psychological self-care behaviors that will facilitate the proper or less painful management of this so-called life:
1. Learning to forgive
Forgiveness is not always meant for the other person. I believe, that it is more destined to ourselves . If we forgive, let go, free ourselves from emotions such as hatred, resentment, frustration … it does not have to be linked to regaining the relationship with the person in question. It is more a process of inner peace.
2. Ask yourself: what is this for?
Every time we find ourselves thinking about something that hurts us, we can ask ourselves: What is this good for me? If the answer is focused on being worse and not finding any solution, it would be good to change that thought for another one that helps us to be more productive or leads us to be able to solve the problem in some way.
3. Things are as they are, not as I want them to be
An important reason why we sometimes strive to change things that are not in our power. As much as I want to, there are things that are as they are, not as I would like them to be. You have to learn to separate what you can change from what you can’t . Acting on the former, and accepting the latter.
4. Do not dramatize
This is where I’d go into relativity. Giving things the right importance, being objective and not drowning in a glass of water. To stop and think if what is happening is as important as what we are giving it.
5. Accepting that not everything can be explained
Going round and round something that we will never understand, either because the answer is in someone else who doesn’t want to give it to us, either because it is not in our hands, or because it has happened as í (for example a death in an accident). Accept that we are not going to understand everything. And learn to live with it.
6. Do not anticipate a catastrophic outcome
Most of the time we suffer for things that in the end don’t happen. But our head has already invented a very tragic ending , sometimes the worst possible one, and we have lived it as if it were real, forgetting that all this suffering, even if it is imaginary, hurts us. And sometimes a lot. We should learn to deal with it when it comes, if it comes at all, and stop worrying so much.
7. Letting go: letting go of whatever wants to go
Throw away what no longer works. Make room. From time to time it is basic to look around and realize what is left over . This is the only way we can remove stones from the backpack we carry on the hill, and the less weight we carry, the freer we will be when we walk. Practice detachment from things, situations and people.
8. Accepting oneself
Carl Rogers said that only when I accept myself, I can change. To be able to carry out this point, an exercise of introspection is necessary, which is to know oneself, how we think, how we feel, how we act. Only by knowing who I am, and accepting it, will I be able to change what I do not want in my life.
9. Not wanting to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you
Many times, the source of suffering comes from striving to be with someone who doesn’t love you. Here, accepting that others have other feelings that although we would like to, are not the same as ours, lightens and shortens the mourning process.
10. Set realistic goals
Set achievable and possible goals, to avoid the frustration generated when we don’t get where we want to go.
Understand that there is no such thing as a perfect person or anything perfect. That we are all special and different, and that as long as our goal is perfection, we are not going to enjoy the process and we are going to fall apart every time something doesn’t turn out the way we think it should.
12. Don’t guess what others think
Acting in the belief that what we believe others believe is an absolute truth, without valuing that we may be confused and others do not think as we believe they do.
13. Do not procrastinate
Putting off what you can take off, makes your mind busy thinking that you have something to do , and that you can’t enjoy 100% of what you’re doing.
14. Don’t take everything personally
Not to think that the whole world revolves around your belly button and that all the decisions that others make have to do with you. If someone is laughing at the next table, maybe it’s because something was funny to them, they don’t have to be laughing at me. When we think that everything is against us, maybe we are the ones who are.
15. Developing empathy
Knowing how to put yourself in the other’s place and see their reality through their eyes, not ours. This helps us to understand others and facilitates personal relationships.
Darwin said that the most intelligent being is the one best suited to the environment. Being able to understand situations and live them in the best possible way within our possibilities, saves a lot of suffering.
17. Taking care of the way we treat each other
Realize the way we talk to each other. Language is very important when it comes to valuing ourselves, and many times the verbalizations we make towards ourselves are far from being loving, tolerant and realistic. Self-criticism is good as long as the result is an attempt to improve , not a constant self-criticism from which nothing productive comes out.
18. Don’t expect others to act as you would
Many times we see ourselves saying “I wouldn’t do it like that”, as if others had to do it the same way we would.
19. Ability to transform
Realize the power we have to transform the lives of others and therefore our own. To be aware of how important small gestures are and their impact.
20. Not acting when we want to wait for others to act
To wait for third parties to make decisions for us, without thinking that we have the power of our lives to act . For example, not calling a person, hoping that they will take the first step. With this, I keep my life on hold and lose power over it.
21. Do not punish yourself
Be more fair and tolerant with yourself and allow yourself to fail without making a mess, without extreme self-demands . In this kind of thing I always ask “if it had happened to a friend of yours, would you be so harsh”, and the answer is almost always a resounding no. If you wouldn’t treat anyone so cruelly, why would you?
22. Select the battles to be fought
Many times we get into trouble from which we will get nothing and which only leads to a mental burnout that we can avoid. There are arguments that we know from afar that are not worthwhile. As they say, sometimes it is better to have peace than to be right .
23. Making decisions
Sometimes we don’t take them, either for fear of making a mistake or for fear of the consequences. Making decisions gives us power over our lives and makes us feel that way.
24. Running away from prison from what they will say
That our life revolves around what others can say about us gives power to others over our life. Therefore, anyone can hurt us. Accepting that whatever we do, there will always be those who criticize us, and staying true to ourselves promotes self-esteem, security and confidence.
- You may be interested in: “The 50 Best Sentences on Self-Esteem”
25. Taking error as learning
Understanding mistakes as a way of learning, rather than as a model of defeat, which makes us value ourselves negatively and globally on the basis of that failure.
26. Knowing how to leave on time
We have the wrong idea that to withdraw is to lose, when sometimes knowing how to see when we have to leave and say goodbye, is the greatest of victories . To stay where we are no longer happy or where we are not wanted is to prolong the agony.
27. Setting limits
Learn to tell others how far they can go into our personal space. Knowing how to say “this far”, “enough”, and above all, learning how to say “no”, without this leading to feelings of guilt.
28. Appreciating the present
Learning to live in the here and now, since it is the only thing that really exists. We cannot change the past and the future may never come , and spending our days in one or the other makes us lose what really matters: what is happening.
29. Managing Fears
To understand that being afraid is normal and adaptive, but that letting ourselves be paralyzed by it takes away our freedom and makes us live a life we do not want to live. The fear of the unknown, of failure, of change, of loneliness makes us stay without moving in a place where we are not really happy .
- You may be interested in: “The 16 Types of Fear and Their Characteristics”
30. Do not strive to go where you cannot
As much as we want to, sometimes we have to be aware that there are things, situations or people we cannot do more with.
On many occasions we believe that others have characteristics that we have put in them and that they have to act in that way. When this does not happen, we feel disappointed. A source of liberation is to accept others as they are.
32. Saying what we think or feel
Everything that we keep quiet and hurts, stays inside, accumulates, and ends up blowing up in some way that stains everything in the form of: depression, anxiety, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to defend ourselves against injustices , to express our criteria or what we are feeling.
33. Knowing how to accept a no
Understand that not everyone has to be at our disposal and that as free beings we all have the right to be able to say no. And this goes in all directions. Many times, we find it difficult to understand that we are rejected, we feel hurt and we get into an internal struggle to be able to fit in. Accepting the decisions of others, even if they are not what we want , is another way of showing respect.
34. Knowing that you can’t be happy forever
Happiness is not something we can always control. Sometimes, it’s time to suffer. Life brings us situations that we might never want to live, but it is what we have to live with. Therefore, understanding that sometimes, there is no other way than learning to manage negative emotions makes it easier for us to deal with bad moments in the best possible way .
Knowing that they will pass, just like the good ones (that’s why it’s advisable that when we are well, we are aware that we are well so that we can enjoy it as much as possible). And try to develop resilience (ability to come out stronger from adverse situations).
35. Do not put others first
To believe that others are more important than us, to always be thinking about how to please by putting ourselves in the background, to feel guilty when we think about ourselves because we think someone might think it’s wrong, to give explanations to everyone about what we do or don’t do giving them power over our lives and allowing them to get into our intimacy and privacy , makes our self-esteem diminish.
36. Do not leave our happiness in the hands of others
Believing that we’ll be happy when someone listens to us, for example. Not understanding that happiness is not outside, but inside. Obviously, I’ll be better off if I get the things I want to get, but thinking that others are responsible for making me better off makes me unaware.
37. Not focusing on what you lack instead of what you have
Comparing us, losing out most of the time. Never being satisfied. Not allowing ourselves to enjoy what surrounds us, because we look for what is not there .
Learning to care for oneself
I advise, from time to time, to review the list so that we can see where we have improved and where we still have work to do. And expand it with anything we can think of that is taking away our freedom.