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Ten Sure-Fire Ways To Feel Miserable About Yourself And Life – Simplifying Life

Written by: Marc de Bruin, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As a counsellor and coach, I mainly speak about ways to improve our lives and find more effective ways of dealing with our mental health issues. Today, I thought I’d try a different counselling tack, and provide you with 10 sure-fire ways to feel and keep feeling absolutely miserable for the majority of your life. This article will be split into two parts. This is part 1: the First Five.

Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed out in an office
“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” ‒ John Stuart Mill

Why do I want to write about this? Well, because many counselling clients and other people regularly seem to keep arguing for their limitations, trying to convince me that ‘nothing’ is going to change (even though they came to counselling for change). These arguments often take the form of ‘yes-buts’; ‘it doesn’t works’; ‘I’ve tried thats’; or ‘you don’t understand’. I actually DO understand (I’ve been in plenty of similar mindsets and circumstances myself, over time), yet also know that life CAN change for the better; and often does.

Nevertheless, to validate Debbie Downers and Donnie Dooms (counsellors need to validate their clients’ concerns), I have decided to provide you with ten ways to ensure you will not feel much better, and will most likely feel worse over time. I have plenty more than ten tips available, and will probably look at those in other articles.

Check the below (and part 2) out and see if they work for you. Unless you want to live a more meaningful and effective life, and stop arguing for your case. Then please stop reading here, and leave part 2 alone.

If you’re looking to maintain your negative mood and feeling, here are the First Five Ways to do so.

Don’t take responsibility for your actions or events in life

This is one of the best tips I can give you. If you are serious about consistently feeling miserable, then disavow your words and actions, and blame others or other events. Deny any responsibility for your emotions and behaviours ‒ it wasn’t you who caused you to be angry; it was other people and put the cause of what happened in the hands of other people or circumstances. It was the economy; it was your parents; it was the alcohol; it’s because s/he said something; it’s because I got treated badly; someone else started it; reasoning like that. Keep pointing fingers elsewhere. All very good ways to offload personal responsibility, and to also keep your happiness and well-being dependent on other people’s behaviour and uncontrollable life events ‒ which generally means very little happiness will come your way.

Compare all you are, do and have achieved to everything and everyone.

There will always be someone who is (or has) more than you, or has (or is) less than you. The best way to apply this tip to feel bad, is to first compare UP. Comparing yourself with people who have achieved more, are in better circumstances, or seem to be what you desire to be will no doubt make you feel discontentment, jealousy and envy. Even better though, it will make you feel shame: the sense of not ‘being’ enough. You’re not a good human. You have failed in some way, shape or form. At least life has failed you.

Comparing DOWN works well, too (especially after comparing UP). Looking at how other people are worse off, and how your life is actually immeasurably better, will guaranteed ‒ bring on feelings of guilt, shame and entitlement, along the lines of “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”, or “I shouldn’t be complaining”. Be careful with this one, though, as it could bring on feelings of gratitude and appreciation as well, which might offset your gains in feeling shame and guilt.

Listen, and I mean REALLY listen, to your inner critical voice, and to the advice and comments of other people, especially pessimists.

If you want to lose all your optimism quick-smart, try and see the world the way pessimists do. Follow their advice and tips to prepare yourself for short-term or long-term danger, and to make arrangements to deal with the trouble that is surely lying ahead. Also link in with their complaints and gossip, and their ideas about how things “used to be better”. Allow them to drain you of valuable life force energy by looking at things negatively. Also, best used in combination with the former, abide by the rules set by your inner critical voice. Don’t ever go against its instructions, even though these are mostly contradictory (it will often tell you to do something, and then scold you for having done so or not good enough). Contradiction is the whole point, as you want to feel as conflicted and powerless as you can by your inner voice’s advice. You’ll feel totally miserable within no time.

Try and please everyone. And rely on validation from others to feel good.

This one works well, too. Trying to please everyone will undoubtedly lead you to situations where you will have to disappoint one to please another (e.g., saying yes to 2 social engagements with close friends ‒same day, similar time and then having to cancel one of them). It will also allow you to feel quite stressed and overwhelmed at work, (e.g., by saying “yes” to any task or request that is heaped upon you). Ultimately, you will have to cut corners or leave things unfinished, which will bring up guilt, self-criticism, disappointment (from you and your superiors), and potentially ramifications for your career. Combine this with being more sensitive to approval from others for your sense of self-worth (rather than sensing your own inner worth), and you will be sure to feel stressed and miserable in most aspects of life.

Spend all your time in the past and the future.

The best way to become and stay – depressed and disillusioned with life is to pile loads of regret and resentment onto circumstances and events that did not happen but should have happened (and v.v.!!). Look back with regret, resentment and shame for your own life so far, and towards the people who played a role in it. Keep living in the past to pass judgement on your present life. This way, today’s life will look very undesirable, as in: “it should have been so much better”. You can then cast a line out into the future, forecasting that “things cannot improve anymore” because of past events. You also want to hold on to unrealistic expectations and impossible desires around the future. That way, you can produce anxiety about what will happen, now that your past has screwed things up for your future, and things won’t get better. Keep comparing the two (past and future), and by all means: do NOT live in the present moment or in body awareness. Keep the “temporal jumps” happening in your narrative, and stay in your head.

So, there you have it. The First Five.

Give these First Five ways to live a miserable life a good go, and please ask if you need any counselling assistance with this. I can speak from experience for all of them, and they work! Guaranteed. You know where to find me.

If you’re interested in more ‒ maybe because these ones didn’t do the trick, and you actually felt better, go to Part Two of this article to find Five More Tips to feel miserable. You should be successful after that.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Marc de Bruin, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marc is a Registered International Counsellor, Supervisor and Educator "with a twist". If you're looking for a run-of-the-mill mental health professional, feel free to contact one of his very capable colleagues. Marc looks at life through a different lens, with a transpersonal, even "spiritual" filter. Expect to discuss your life from a bigger perspective, while still being very practical (Marc is an ex-litigation lawyer, too, so very solution-focused); and expect to work from the inside out: YOU will change before your circumstances will. In order for things to change, you'll be the one to change some things. If that sounds like something you are up for, Marc is ready for you.



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