Many of us believe we have to be happy or joyful all the time, and if we aren’t, then we are doing this life thing wrong. We feel like sadness makes us deficient. We judge our feelings and ourselves for having them. When we try to feel good all the time we avoid deeper connections with others. This approach to life, “trying so hard to feel good all the time,” comes at a price. We end up wanting more. The more we crave is realness. It comes down to authenticity and being real with ourselves so we can connect with others. We tell ourselves lies that keep us stuck.

We can slowly disengage from the stories. When we do, we begin to move from being numb to life to feeling more accepting of our circumstances. When we are stuck in the stories, it’s common to compare ourselves to others. We look at others and we think that we are worse off, which makes our pain even more difficult to bear. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, our circumstances, and the world are very real to us, but it is all an illusion. I want to help you step away from fear and step into a place of understanding. Consider that perhaps each situation in your life can be looked at in a new way. This will help you move into a place of possibilities rather than stay stuck in fear, denial, and shame.

In order to efficiently move past our stories, we need to identify the main ones holding us back. What do you tell yourself about yourself, and what do you say to yourself about life? Remember, these stories may seem very real to you and they likely have created your reality. For example, if you believe men are cheaters, then you may attract men who cheat on you. If you believe it’s impossible to lose weight and you are doomed to be overweight forever, then it will be extremely hard to see the scale move. You have to tap into an unshakable confidence within yourself. When we believe in ourselves, we know we deserve and can have what we really want. Instead of thinking it’s not going to work out for you, believe with every fiber of your body that life is working out in your favor, and you will soon see radical results.

The things we think become our lens through which we see the world. The thoughts we have are extremely important. They are powerful. The thoughts running through your mind can help to create the life of your dreams, or put you smack-dab in the middle of living some of your greatest fears. Whatever we think about or focus on consistently, we move toward.

One of the easiest ways to clear up your thoughts is to get clear about the stories you’ve been replaying and relying on to get you through life. I’ve gathered a list of the top stories we tell ourselves that are preventing us from moving forward into a more joyful life

The 5 big stories we tell ourselves that keep us stuck—and how to transform them

Story 1: We need to feel good all the time 

So many of us feel like something is wrong if we aren’t happy. The pursuit of happiness can make us feel less than when we don’t live up to its impossible standard. If you believe you should be happy all the time, then when you don’t feel great, you will feel like a failure. But all feelings are part of the rich tapestry of life, and running away from any of them is not embracing life fully.

The fix: When you are sad and frustrated, recognize that they are valid feelings and just focus on being present. Let yourself exist with your feelings. When you can appreciate what is, you will move through it more efficiently. 

Story 2: It’s selfish to go after what we want 

So many of us feel it is selfish to go for what we want; meanwhile we stay stuck, unhappy, and miserable. Think about the fact that the number one regret of the dying is, “I wish I had led a life more true to myself instead of what others wanted for me.” Take steps now to be more true to yourself. 

The fix: By actively pursuing your dreams, you not only lift up yourself but you help lift up the entire world. Because being authentic and living your truth is the only way you can fulfill your divine purpose. 

Story 3: Life is supposed to look a certain way. I’ll be happy when . . . 

Everywhere we look, people seem to have more, be more, and look so much happier than we are. In our digital age, illusionary social media accounts make us feel bad about ourselves and pressure us to live up to their standards. We pretend to be better than we feel; we put a smile on our face; we overbuy, overeat, overwork, all in an effort to fit in. Meanwhile we are hurting inside, we are lonely, and we crave a deeper connection. We feel like our life is supposed to look a certain way, and if it doesn’t match our vision, we feel off track and behind. 

This story goes: Life is okay now, but it could be so much better, when you get the new car, lose the weight, get out of debt, get the new position, meet your soul mate—the list goes on and on. So many of us think when we get to the next level of our life, when we have the thing we think we need, only then can we be happy. This is a clever trick your ego plays on you to keep you safe and small. But your life isn’t when something happens. It is happening right now. 

The fix: Focus on the journey and all the amazing things happening in your life today. It’s nice to have goals, but don’t block yourself from living in the moment. Instead, celebrate your life today and be happy you are working toward more fulfillment. 

Furthermore, instead of pretending that things are okay, be honest with yourself and share your true self. Be where you are instead of where you think you need to be. By being more true to yourself, you will feel better. 

Story 4: What others think about me matters 

So many of us make choices based on what other people think, say and do. We walk around feeling unworthy and trying to fit in, but we sacrifice ourselves and hide pieces of us in order to do this. We care so much about what others think; yet we don’t stop to ask ourselves what we really think. 

The fix:Realize that other peoples opinion of you doesn’t really matter, what matters most is your relationship with you. Practice self-love and self-compassion and take your attention off of needing others approval, instead approve of yourself. 

Story 5: Giving up is failure 

In my retreats and workshops people ask me what the difference is between giving up and failing. Most of us think that giving up is failure and we hold on to situations, people, expenses, beliefs, and habits that don’t serve us anymore. Believing that giving up is a bad thing is one habit that could be preventing you from feeling better. 

The fix:Instead, shift your perception to see that we are always changing and growing. And often we outgrow what we once needed to grow into. You no longer need to be in the position, or with the person, or in the situation that is hurting your soul. Instead, give yourself permission let go and move on. When you do, something more beautiful can emerge in its place. 

Look at this list of stories and identify the ones that have been keeping you stuck. Focus on the fix and trust that the stories you believe can be transformed into a more loving and positive focus. 

When you transform the limiting stories that you believe, you transform your life.