What to Do If You Hate Your Life

By: Kimberly Zapata

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. But what should you do if you’re feeling hopeless and the sensation that you hate your life isn’t a passing thing, brought on by a sudden circumstance?  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.

Of course, the “action” depends on the source of your unhappiness. “If you loathe your job, it’s time to consider finding a new one.  If you’re miserable in a relationship, 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 getting enough sleep, 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,” Catherine Jackson, a licensed clinical psychologist in Chicago, says—and “make changes to your sleep, eating, exercise, or social life as needed.”

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, practicing mindfulness or meditating before 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,” psychotherapist Flip Flippen says. 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.”

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—daily affirmations are 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, somehowpractice self-care. 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.  Being around folks who enjoy immersing themselves in life can be contagious and give you a greater sense of belonging and purpose.

If you find you are still dissatisfied with life after altering your thought patterns and behaviors, it’s time to make a plan.

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