The Three Emotional Errors That Limit Your Happiness

July 24, 2018

Well-being, like inner peace, isn’t something that changes on its own as time does. Emotions can alter our quality of life, and they also impact the quality of our choices. Therefore, it’s important to familiarize ourselves with three emotional errors that limit our happiness.

Daniel Goleman stated in his book How to be a Leader that at least 80% of the successes we achieve in our life depend on our ability to manage emotions. However, the word “success” doesn’t only refer to climbing the ladder at work. Nor does it refer to our ability to become a genius or guru in particular subjects.

In essence, we’re talking about one of the most simple things: being happy. Happiness isn’t something that just appears on our doorstep or in our mail one day. Happiness is an inner state that must be tended to daily like a delicate garden. You have to pull the weeds, plant particular seeds, prune some branches and leave others, and you have to know how to add adequate nutrients to the soil.

Being competent in emotional intelligence can light up many paths for us. However, sometimes we act as if we have no emotional intelligence and we act on pure instinct. 

leaf with heart

Three emotional errors that limit your happiness: denial

I see something’s wrong, how do you feel, are you sure you’re okay? / Are you sure you’re not angry? / Are you sure nothing happened to you? / Can you promise me that whatever happened to you isn’t important? / Was it right that this event happened? 

These are just a few examples of the wide range of questions that we can face on a daily basis. We usually respond to these questions in the same way: nothing happened and everything is fine. Hiding or denying our feelings is an almost automatic reaction for many of us. However, this is one of the worst emotional errors that limit our ability to be happy.

It’s clear, however, that we can’t always be completely transparent with others. Think of practicing emotional assertiveness as being similar to our principles of personal hygiene. Suppressing or disguising whatever’s causing us pain won’t make us stronger or smarter. Rather, it will break us little by little. Remember that we’re humans, we’re not like the sea and its waves that break every day without complaint. As humans, we have the right and responsibility to show what hurts, to complain, and to be honest.

girl with butterflies

Escape uncomfortable feelings

There are emotions that we don’t like. We tend to leave feelings that make us uncomfortable aside because we don’t want to tolerate them in our life. The anger, frustration, disappointment, anguish… How unpleasant can they become? Of course. For that reason, we chose to stick them in a corner because we don’t know what else to do with them.

We forget something that Antonio Damasio, the famous neurologist, points out very often. We’re emotional beings. One day we learned how to think. We’re not like machines who realized that we could feel. Therefore, the act of giving space to our emotions and letting them flow through our lives is a way of accepting ourselves. To validate our feelings, we should invest in our mental health.

I have to be happy!

The third emotional error is a result of the way we think today: the obsession with being happy. We pursue happiness like someone who embarks on a journey without a destination. How can you go shopping without knowing what you want to buy? How can someone feel an immense emptiness without knowing what they’re missing? That anguish, that feeling that something is missing, frequently leads us to nourish ourselves with a substitute for happiness that doesn’t please us. Rather, it only brings us more frustration and greater unhappiness.

Let’s stop for a moment. Just take a moment to breathe and reflect. Too often we become satisfied with simple rewards without investing in a real project, and, in this case, that real project is ourselves. Few emotional mistakes are as serious as looking outside for happiness when it can be found within. Knowing and understanding that principle will allow us to avoid great suffering.

man searching for happiness

Let’s work daily on that delicate building inside us where vital projects like self-esteem, self-love, assertiveness, and passion are enshrined. When our lives have meaning, we come closer to achieving happiness. All of the emotional errors we made in the past can be amended and corrected today if we set our mind on it.