Do you ever feel like you’re always putting others before yourself? Or like you’re just going through the motions without feeling truly fulfilled?
If your answer is yes, it might be time to focus on your own happiness. Sometimes, when we’re in too deep trying to meet our obligations, we can let each day pass by without noticing we’re running low.
Fortunately, there are some signs that can point this out to us. In this article, I’ll discuss ten red flags that indicate a need for you to focus more on your happiness.
Let’s get started!
1) Saying “yes” when you really mean “no”
Have you ever found yourself saying agreeing to things you really don’t want to do?
I know I have. There was a time when I would say yes to every invitation and every favor asked of me.
At first, I could make myself feel better about it by thinking it felt good to be able to please or help out people. But it wasn’t long before I felt worn and stretched out.
Eventually, I made the decision to just say “no” when I didn’t want to do something.
And you know what? That tiny decision turned out to give me huge rewards in the way of happiness. I felt so much freer and in charge of my life!
If this sounds familiar to you, here’s a bit of advice – you have the right to say “no” sometimes. You’re not a pushover. Your time and energy are valuable, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
And, as I’ll show you in the next section, you don’t have to feel guilty!
2) Feeling guilty when you take time for yourself
Guilt is such a heavy burden to carry, and it’s not something you should entertain in the pursuit of your own happiness.
The way I think about it is, why should I feel guilty about my me-time? I deserve just as much attention and energy as I give to other people, don’t I?
So if you’re resting and recharging but feeling like you’re being lazy or selfish, ditch that thought.
In a way, you’re doing everyone else a favor by taking time away for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as they say. When you constantly put other people’s needs before yours, you’re bound to feel drained in the long run.
But when you’re rested and doing what makes you happy, you’ll also have tons of energy to deal with the demands of everyday life.
3) Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
Speaking of the demands of daily life, another sign to watch out for is this – you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Whether it’s work-related stress or personal issues, it’s important to pause and think about what’s causing these feelings. Maybe you need to set better boundaries or seek support from friends or a therapist.
The point is, you just can’t keep operating under such a high level of stress. Even if you trick your mind into thinking you’re okay, your body will speak up and tell you, no, you’re not okay!
4) Apologizing for everything
Do you find yourself constantly apologizing, even when you haven’t done anything wrong?
Maybe you apologize for speaking up in a meeting or for asking a question. Maybe you always start your sentences with “Sorry, but I’d just like to…”
That’s a red flag that you aren’t placing much worth on yourself. Throwing in an apologetic word when it’s not warranted diminishes your statement.
Here’s what you need to know – your thoughts and feelings are valid, and you have a right to express them. You shouldn’t need to apologize for being yourself!
5) Seeking validation from others
Consider these questions:
- Do you ever find yourself seeking approval from others?
- Do you always check social media to see how many likes your latest post has?
- Do you feel like you need your partner’s constant reassurance?
If you answered yes to any of these, I’ve got a gentle reminder for you. Your worth isn’t determined by others’ opinions of you. You are inherently valuable, no matter what anyone else thinks.
6) Comparing yourself to others
See, the danger of seeking validation from others is that it leads to another happiness-sucking habit – comparison.
We live in a world where it’s easy to compare ourselves to others all the time. Whether it’s on social media, at work, or in our personal lives, it’s natural to look around and see how we measure up.
But the truth is, everyone has their own journey and their own struggles. You don’t really know what people are going through behind closed doors.
So constantly comparing yourself to others won’t do you any good. It will simply keep you feeling like you’re never enough and that you’re failing at life. That definitely takes away from your happiness!
7) Seeking external validation
This is similar to seeking approval from others, but it’s specifically about looking for validation outside of yourself. Maybe you feel like you need a certain job or relationship to feel happy.and fulfilled.
I’ve been guilty of this. I admit to being a competitive person, and in my younger days, I would do things because I wanted the rewards that came with them – awards, recognition, promotions, and so on.
But then I noticed something. Once the high of winning died down, I would feel lost and empty. It got to a point where I was asking myself, who was I without all those trappings of success?
That led me to realize that happiness comes from within. Once I let go of the idea that those perks defined me and focused on accepting myself no matter what, I felt so much more fulfilled. It meant I could go on loving myself even if I wasn’t winning anything!
8) Not doing things that make you happy
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing what we think we “should” do, rather than what actually brings us joy.
Case in point: my story in the previous section. I was doing things not because I liked doing them, but because I wanted the glory that came with succeeding.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Well, don’t let society dictate what you should and shouldn’t do.
If you want to take a dance class even if you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s…go ahead. If you want to learn painting, make time for it.
Whatever makes you happy, do it, even if it doesn’t seem practical or productive. Life is too short to spend time on things that don’t fill us with joy!
9) Feeling stuck in a rut
Not doing things that make us joyful leads to this next thing. You’ll be feeling stuck in life.
Have you ever felt like you’re just on autopilot, not really feeling fulfilled? Do you wake up in the mornings and struggle to get out of bed?
Maybe you’re not sure what your purpose is, or you’re not making progress toward your goals. Maybe your life looks like an endless cycle of tasks and responsibilities that leave you feeling empty.
Well, I’m happy to tell you, it’s never too late to make a change. Sometimes, all it takes is a dose of newness – new hobbies or career paths or new relationships.
Be brave enough to step outside your comfort zone and see what else the world has to offer.
10) Feeling like you’re not in control
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the importance of owning your life.
All too often, we let life happen to us, and we merely go along with the flow. To a certain extent, going along with the flow makes for easy living.
But too much of it will leave you feeling like you’re not in control. It can be really easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair.
This happens when you’re only reacting…instead of acting.
What’s the difference?
Well, reacting means you simply respond to external factors – you’re at the mercy of these factors. You have no control at all.
But acting gives you ownership. When you’re proactive about your life, you make your own choices; no one does it for you. You have concrete goals that you decided for yourself, so you have a clear sense of where you’re going in life.
What to do
If you’ve noticed any of these red flags in your life, don’t worry – you’re not alone. It’s easy to fall into patterns that don’t serve us, but the good thing is that you have the power to change them.
Here are a few tips for focusing on your own happiness:
Treat and talk to yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend. Instead of beating yourself up for mistakes or shortcomings, try to offer yourself encouragement and support.
Be clear about what you will and won’t tolerate in your life. Maybe it’s saying “no” to a work request that you don’t have time for, or telling a friend that you need some space. Boundaries are crucial for protecting our time and energy.
Make time for the things that fill you up, whether it’s exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Self-care looks different for everyone, so it’s important to find what works for you.
Focus on what’s good in your life, even when things feel tough. Take a little time each day to write down things you’re grateful for, or express gratitude to loved ones. I know that when I started gratitude journaling, I could see the good things in my life much more clearly!
There’s no shame in asking for support. It can truly make all the difference when you’re going through a tough time. So reach out to friends, family, or a therapist when you need help. You don’t have go through life alone!