The Path to Passionate Happiness

Insights from Positive Psychology

How to Overcome Your Worst Enemy

Your worst enemy is actually you yourself.

When was the last time you celebrated reaching a milestone, a small goal, or even completing a challenging task? How did you celebrate? Maybe you smiled for about 5 seconds, shared it on your Facebook status to inspire others, or simply gave it a quick nod and moved on. The reality is we are far too self-critical of ourselves which means we often forget to appreciate who we are and what we achieve. If you truly want to succeed in life and find ultimate fulfilment, you need to learn to overcome your worst enemy: YOU.

How to overcome your worst enemy

It's often your fears, hesitations and limiting beliefs which hold you back from truly flourishing in your life. These are the things you need to overcome, especially if you want to create more positive change. Learning to love yourself doesn't mean self-indulging but actually embracing the real you (both the good and bad sides!).

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If you learn to be compassionate towards yourself, you'll feel more empowered, energised and strong. The thoughts you'll hear in your head will be much more beneficial to your productivity, and you'll be more resilient in times of stress. You'll be able to bounce back quicker from failures, and persist longer even when the going is tough. You will find a sense of self acceptance, which in turn will lead to a healthy sense of wellbeing and happiness.

All these things will help you develope more compassion towards others as well. John Lennon illustrated this beautifully with his words:

"We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create."

In fact research has shown that when you improve your compassion towards yourself, you connect better with people and you're better able to build positive relationships with them. You're also more likely to create more positive impact around you because you're confident enough to use your skills to help others.

So how do you get started on overcoming your worst enemy through self-compassion? There are three simple exercises which can put you on the right path.

  1. Write down your negative self-talk & reflect on it. Would you say these things to a friend? High chances are you wouldn't. When you become more aware of this, you're more likely to stop it when it happens.
  2. Write yourself a letter as if you were writing it to a friend. Imagine what a compassionate friend would write in the letter if they were sending it to you. Write it all down, keep it safe, and read it whenever you're feeling rough.
  3. Engage in compassion meditation. Contemplation and relaxation can help us reduce how self-critical we are. Kristin Neff's work on this has been very popular and powerful - she even has some free meditations on her website for you to try.

With that I encourage you to overcome the self-critical voice inside of you - it's doing nothing other than holding you back.

"A moment of self compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life." ~ Christopher Germer

This post originally appeared on the Happyologist business blog.

Susanna Halonen, MAPP, runs the Happyologist business and blog, which helps you find your happiest, most passionate, best performing you.

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