Smart Living What to Do If You Hate Your Life, According to the Experts
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It may seem cliché, but life is hard. From growing up and working to paying bills, balancing budgets, and having and raising kids, "adulting" can be difficult. And let’s face it: some days are tougher than others. Butand the sensation that you hate your life isn't a passing thing, brought on by a sudden circumstance? According to , a licensed psychotherapist in Boca Raton, Florida, before you can change your outlook, you need to admit something is wrong.
“The first step is to recognize that you're unhappy. Once you're self-aware enough to realize the problem, you can take action to make it better,” Marchena explains.
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Of course, the "action" depends on the source of your unhappiness. “If you, it's time to consider finding a new one,” Marchena says. “If you're , there are other measures to take,” and so on and so forth. “But either way, taking some action will help you improve your life and feel happier.” However, that is easier said than done, because, as we all know, change doesn't tend to come easily.
The good news is that there is hope. Following these steps can help you remove obstacles, alter your perception, and ideally, make you hate your life less.
Assess the basics.
While certain baseline behaviors may seem obvious, i.e. everyone knows the importance of eating healthily, exercising regularly, and, when it comes to improving your life and/or mood, these factors are often overlooked. So “before taking any drastic measures, assess how much balance you have in these various areas of your life,” , a licensed clinical psychologist in Chicago, says—and “make changes to your sleep, eating, exercise, or social life as needed.”
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Step back, pause, and reflect on your circumstances.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and for most, the age old adage is true. Situations and circumstances become clearer with time and distance. For that reason, Marchena suggestsbefore making any life altering decisions. “Taking time to pause, sit in silence, and reflect will help you process your feelings and thoughts.” You can also try writing, journaling, or confiding in a trusted loved one or friend.
Remove negative talk and change your phrasing.
Most people have an inner critic: a little voice in their head that tells them they are not good enough, smart enough, or doing enough—and that voice can cause considerable damage. “What we think and say can have harmful effects on us, if we're not careful,” psychotherapistsays. For that reason, Flippen suggests reframing your thoughts and changing your language. “For example, when someone says, ‘I’m depressed,’ it would be better for them to say, ‘I’m feeling depressed.’ The first is a final statement, a declaration. The latter is a statement of current feelings or behaviors, not an ultimate destination or claim that can’t be altered.” And Marchena agrees.
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“If you think, ‘I am a failure,' you will feel anger and sadness,” Marchena says. “But if you can say ‘just because things are not going well for me right now doesn't mean I am a failure, it just means I need to make some changes in my life, so I can be happier,’ you’ll be better off.”
Avoid comparative thinking.
They say comparison is the thief of joy, and for good reason. Comparing yourself to others can stall progress and set you up for failure. It is also an extremely discouraging habit. Instead, focus your attention on yourself and what you are good at. Make a list of successes or achievements and celebrate them—dailyare handy here—and avoid situations which trigger comparative thinking, like social media.
Explore your passions.
While everyone should do something that brings them joy on a daily basis, most of us don’t. Family, work, and life get in the way. However, the happiest individuals are the ones who, somehow,. “If there’s something that’s always interested you, that you haven’t taken the time to pursue—whether its traveling, mountain biking, cooking, or education—find others who are passionate about those things, and do it,” Nina Rifkind, a licensed clinical social work and anxiety, phobia, and OCD specialist at , says. “Being around folks who enjoy immersing themselves in life can be contagious and give you a greater sense of belonging and purpose.” Not sure where to start? You can try one of these which will pair you with people who share similar hobbies, or consider a .
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Another way to improve your outlook on life is to volunteer or help someone else. Why? Because “doing so takes the focus off what's wrong in your world and allows you to be a part of a solution to another problem,” Jackson says. However, “if this is the route you take, be sure you do not simply avoid your problems to tend to the problems of someone else.” The latter will only cause you further discomfort.
Develop and execute a plan.
If you find you are still dissatisfied with life after altering your thought patterns and behaviors, it’s time to make a plan. After all, there are countless reasons that may cause you to "hate your life," and many of these factors are external—like, the city you live in, etc. However, if “you find you need to change jobs, pals, locations, or whatever you choose, start small.” Flippen suggests setting a timeline and making a plan. You may also want to work with a therapist, , or related professional, as these individuals can offer both insight and perspective.
That said, it's important to note that sometimes severe self-loathing and dread are signs of a more serious issue. “If hating your life causes a complete loss of interest in things you’ve always enjoyed, if you have no motivation to do what’s necessary for day-to-day functioning, if you have had a dramatic change in your appetite and are losing or gaining weight, if you feel fatigued, or are unable to sleep, and/or if you become isolated from family and friends and have thoughts like, “it would just be simpler if I wasn’t around anymore,” you may be. In this case, Rifkind suggests seeking additional help.
“Any combination of these symptoms indicate you may have crossed over into clinical depression," Rifkind says. "Consider confiding in a trusted friend or family member and seek professional help.”
For more information about mental health programs and resources, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, call theat 1-800-273-8255, or text “START” to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.
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