How I changed my mindset to find happiness

Thanks to Erika Kind

While there is no single definition of happiness, experts generally consider it a feeling of satisfaction and satisfaction with life.

External factors, such as material things and experiences, can provide a temporary sense of happiness, but feeling truly happy comes from within — a lesson author Erika Kind learned the hard way.

Here Kind tells how she went from feeling anxious and insecure to finally happiness.

A lack of self-confidence in childhood

Ever since I was a kid, I never had much confidence. I barely had my own opinion. Having what was considered the “wrong opinion” became one of my biggest fears. I’ve learned that if I want to ‘make it’, I have to develop a specific personality – and that wasn’t something that came naturally to me.

The dominant people in my life, like my father, made it clear that I could do things their way or not at all. When what I thought didn’t fit how others wanted me to think, I was judged, humiliated, and insulted. Soon my brain started asking “what am I supposed to think?” instead of “what am I thinking?” to prevent problems.

I was convinced that thinking or acting differently meant that there was something wrong with me. When I was around people like my father, I was afraid to speak, afraid to share my own thoughts. It didn’t leave much room for a child to develop her own personality.

Losing myself in my teenage years

As a teenager I started to lose myself more and more. I isolated myself from my family and tried to protect the small, vulnerable part of myself that I felt was really me. I built a wall around that part of myself so I could pretend to be the person I was supposed to be, which was incredibly difficult. It felt like I was cheating myself.

I buried my emotional side and only let it go when I was alone or with friends. Luckily I had great friends – my best friend from that time is still my best friend today. But around my family I became quiet and withdrawn. I didn’t want to risk my feelings being trampled underfoot.

Growing up shy, insecure and anxious

I grew up as a shy, insecure and anxious child who struggled to trust people. As hard as I tried to be private, I was never authentic. This convinced me that I wasn’t even good enough to be accepted by myself.

I felt helpless and like an alien, so different that no one could understand me. My destiny was to be insecure and afraid, I thought. I didn’t even think I could be different from what I was.

I didn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through, see doctors, or look for a therapist. Weakness was never an option. But as I grew up, the hidden “I” I had walled in so long ago began to revolt. She was tired of being trapped and wanted to come out.

Harnessing the power of my thoughts

One day I just stopped and said to myself, “This isn’t who you are or who you want to be. But who are you?” That was the beginning of my journey back to myself.

I had always been interested in psychology and spirituality, although I had never developed these interests. But as the urge to be my true self grew, I reconsidered the topics. I wanted to learn more about myself and about people in general.

So I did some research. I read many books, the most life-changing of which were those of Dr. Wayne Dyer, who was an expert on self-development and spiritual growth. I studied things like energetic healing and aromatherapy, and learned how to read tarot cards. I attended seminars, workshops, and lectures, including one with Dr. Dyer himself, feeling embraced by his peaceful energy.

Then came the most important thing: applying the things I’ve learned to my own life. The most impactful action I took was to harness the power of my thoughts. I paid attention to my thoughts, noticed how often I judged myself negatively for having them, then worked to change the negative energy around my thoughts, my actions, and my life in general.

Learning to love myself

In September 2009, I attended a conference in Laguna Beach, California. A few days later I was sitting on the beach watching and listening to the crashing of the waves when I suddenly felt different.

For the first time in my life I felt a real and loving connection to who I was as a person. I felt liberated and I knew that as long as I listened to the voice of my soul – the voice I had kept locked up – everything would be fine. I was already starting to feel this way, but that day it felt like the last veil had been lifted and I knew I had nothing and no one to fear.

Going home with a new look

I returned home armed with my new, more powerful vision. No more blaming others for my difficulties – I started taking responsibility for my own happiness. Whenever I had a thought that I recognized as destructive, I actively exchanged it for a constructive one.

For example, driving to activities with my three kids every afternoon would always put me in a bad mood. I would think, “Here we go again. Driving all afternoon with no time for anything else. I hate it.” I traded that for, “I’m so grateful that I can take the time to get my kids where they need to go. What a blessing to make it possible for them and see their joy.”

Making this change took constant attention at first, but it got easier after about a week. And after a month or two I noticed that most of my thoughts were constructive. And the benefits were astounding. My feelings changed from resistance, impatience and irritability to awareness and appreciation. It made me braver, more tolerant and more able to see the beauty in everything I experienced.

Another strategy I used was to make a list of all my fears. Once I did, it was time to face every fear. If one of them showed up in my daily life – say, if I felt I was wrong for no reason – I didn’t flinch, but immediately tackled it. I knew these were the things that were holding me back, and I had no excuse to face them.

Erika Kind02

Thanks to Erika Kind

Discovering a new purpose in life

Today I feel I have laid a foundation for happiness as a natural state of being. I still experience sadness and frustration, but I no longer let those emotions control me. My fears now offer an opportunity to grow. They show me that I’m at the door of another breakthrough, and I can’t get enough of those breakthrough moments.

Looking back, that’s how I see my past experiences. I don’t blame my father for how he was – he was overwhelmed and molded by his own difficult childhood. He was in no way a bad person; if you needed him, you could rely on him 100 percent. He did what he thought was right and probably wasn’t aware of how it made me feel. The experience was a necessary part of my journey to see myself more clearly.

I’ve also discovered a new purpose: to share what I’ve been through in the hope that others can be inspired to change their lives for the better. I have written five books, including: I’m Free: Awareness of who you are by discovering who you are not, gave lectures, seminars and workshops, and founded a therapy practice. I have also participated in book signings, which has given so much meaning to my life.

I was unhappy, but I was able to change my mindset. We are not unwilling victims to be programmed by those around us. We are our programmers!

— As told to Alyssa Sybertz

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