Do you ever wonder if things will get better? Not just financially, but when you’re sitting at home alone at the end of a long work day, do you ever stop and think to yourself: My god, is this all there is in my life? Will I ever learn how to be happy?
The feelings of unhappiness and loneliness are painful when you’re single, but can persist even when you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship. Sometimes, despite being in the same house, you still find yourself dining alone.
You keep these thoughts to yourself. You get ready in the morning and go to work. You do what you have to do. At least you have work and even friends, but deep down when they head out to do their thing on the weekend, you feel alone.
You know you have what it takes, but it’s as though it’s a hidden truth you just can’t seem to find. You’ve been happy before, and you just want to know how to get back to that place of self-assuredness. Happiness can’t be that hard to find, can it?
There are plenty of women (and men) who, because of life changes and events, find themselves caught in an emotional rut. You’re not alone in feeling sad and lost when your kids grow up and leave for college, or feeling unfulfilled in your friendships, or like you wish something would change in your marriage.
These are important problems that Andrea Miller addresses in her book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love. She explores the formula not only for personal happiness but how you can really learn to love yourself and others in an all-encompassing way.
She advises that you don’t have to settle for what you don’t want and learn to be happy; rather, you have to learn how to accept yourself, and then watch happiness unfurl as you learn to radically love and accept whatever it is that holds you back from experiencing unconditional love.
And if you’ve been looking for your partner to make you happy, there’s one change you can make today to improve things by using the exact unhappiness you feel to relearn how to be happy.
In Radical Acceptance, Andrea explains: “While partnering with someone and hoping to change them is a recipe for disaster, you must be willing to change yourself. Practicing Radical Acceptance, and learning to love his unloveable parts, means you’re going to change yourself in positive, powerful ways. You are going to stretch and grow big time.”unloveable parts, means you’re going to change yourself in positive, powerful ways. You are going to stretch and grow big time.”
No doubt, learning to love yourself unconditionally is really hard. We asked our our YourTango Experts to share how you can learn how to love yourself and achieve the kind of happiness that lasts. Here’s what they said:
1. Forget the standard advice.
“Forget about finding your passion and focus on finding what’s right for you right now. There’s a huge myth going on right now, that in order to be happy and fulfilled you have to find your passion and do what you love.
The problem with passion is that it takes years to figure out what’s going to move and motivate you enough to push through the hard times, persevere under stress and do it all with a sense of elation and purpose. Passion is the end result of a multi-year, multi-decade process.
It involves understanding what you’re good at, what you enjoy and practicing it in a context that works for you. So I say, forget finding your passion. Work on understanding what’s right for you right now and develop the patience to hone that into a skill, then a talent and finally, with experience, practice and time, a passion.”
Dr. Alessandra Wall is a clinical psychologist, coach, lifestyle designer and the founder of Life in Focus Coaching.
2. You have the power.
“Just by living it, you are the author of your own life. No matter what’s happening (or not) in your current chapter, you always have the power and the right to choose the events, improve the storyline, and even recast the characters to create a ‘true-life story’ worth living.”
Barbara Schiffman is a Life&Soul Synergy Coach, creativity expert, and author. Watch her videos on Life Balance and Relationships or visit her website.
3. Stop struggling.
“When we resist, deny, or avoid, we delay the opportunity for happiness. What we accept and face we conquer, and begin to move toward happiness again. When we can accept, rather than expect, we have fewer disappointments.
With acceptance, we create the courage to alter our perception, belief, and attitude regarding difficult life experiences. Acceptance begins the way to alter one’s life toward inner happiness and peace. It’s an act of love and a forward moving energy. Acceptance expands the mind to different possibilities and opens the heart to make possibilities our reality.”
David Schroeder provides guidance with learning and experiencing the power and transforming effects of acceptance. Visit his website for help.
4. Appreciate the now.
“’Remember: the present is perfect.’ I love that phrase — not because it always feels that way, but because it reminds me to take a deep breath, broaden my perspective, and find the lessons and hidden gems that exist even in the toughest times.
Accepting yourself and your life as it is right now — the good, the bad and the ugly — doesn’t mean you throw up your hands saying ‘too bad, that’s just the way it is’ and give up on your commitment to self-improvement or changing the world. Instead, it allows you to push the mute button on your snarky inner critic (the sworn enemy of self-acceptance) so you can re-focus on what’s right and positive and “perfect” in your life.”
Deborah Roth is a Life Design Specialist and Interfaith Minister who loves helping overwhelmed, under-nurtured women reclaim their sanity and their soul-selves. Visit her website.
5. Find your gratitude.
“Find the silver lining that helps you focus on all the positive things on a daily basis. When we have an approach/attitude of appreciation:
- our unconscious mind attracts more of whatever we are grateful for
- our mental and emotional health improves
- our thought patterns become more positive leading to living healthier lives
This leaves you open minded, flexible, and ready to ‘play the cards’ life dealt you.”
Elsa Cronje is a Master NLP Practitioner and Transformation Coach at Take a Leap Coaching.
6. Give yourself a break.
“Embracing yourself as you are while becoming your best self is essential to feeling good about where you’re at while taking steps towards what you most want. In that space is where you’ll love your life since you’ll be more resourceful, approach things in an easeful manner, and get better results.
So here’s a 3-step approach you can take when you’re not loving your life: (1) be compassionate with yourself; (2) focus on something you can accept and love now; and (3) make choices in favor of your desires. By taking that approach, the life you desire will come to fruition and fleeting happiness will make way for real and lasting joy.”
Janet Ong Zimmerman is the founder of Love for Successful Women.
7. The grass is not always greener.
“Remember, no matter how messed up you think you are, someone is watching your life. They’re thinking ‘If I just had her looks, or income, or husband or family, or job, or confidence, or education (get the idea) my world would rock!’ From their outside view, you are doing it all so much better than they are.”
Jennifer Hunt is a Certified Holistic Life Coach who helps women find the missing pieces of living an authentic, abundant and joyful life. Visit Sisters of Earth and Sky for exploration, inspiration, and playfulness.
8. Find peace from your core self.
“My path to acceptance is paved by the trust. Trust that there is something far greater than me, which guides me to the perfect experiences and relationships that bring growth and healing.
On this journey, I am guided to return to my core wisdom, that non-judgmental and compassionate part of me that can simply love and be at peace. Only from this core can I fully accept my life situation, others, and myself, and this brings with it deep contentment and happiness.”
9. Remember who is the most influential over your happiness.
“Happiness is a process you can ignite within yourself ─ where you have the most influence. With so much in flux around you, use your values, choices, and actions to create a secure base for sustaining real happiness that lasts. Your powers of insight and intuition will clarify your hopes and dreams.
Also, attend to cues from people you trust and make mistakes and detours sources for learning. Enjoy exploring and integrating these suggestions and new possibilities while using your authentic voice. Then you’ll have keys for improving what makes you happy today and to carrying that creatively forward into a life you continue to love.”