How to Be Happy For Others When You're Feeling Stuck
One of the hardest things to do when you’re feeling stuck: Show up for others who do seem to have it all together.
The friend who just got engaged.
The co-worker who scored a promotion.
The partner who’s successfully pursuing their dream career.
It’s easy to know when we aren’t showing up for people. To the receiver, it hurts when people cannot step outside of their story to be happy for you. But on the flip side: It can be tough to show up with joy and excitement for someone else when you’re not in the best mental space.
When you’re not exactly where you want to be, it can hurt to:
●︎ See others in happy relationships
●︎ Watch people travel
●︎ Browse social media and see people having fun
●︎ See your friends doing things with people besides you
The good news: It is possible to genuinely cheer for others when you’re not where you want to be.
Here, a few tips to help you out.
1. Step Outside Yourself
People who compare themselves to others are fixated on what they’re not doing or how they could be or should be doing something. Stepping outside of yourself makes it easier to not compare your story to someone else’s.
If you find yourself not being able to be happy for others, take steps to work through your issues by considering the following:
●︎ What’s going on in my life that’s causing me to feel this way?
●︎ What about this situation seems the most difficult part to accept?
●︎ What can I do to show my support for this other person?
Also: Challenge yourself to notice what you are doing or do have. This will remind you that even if you don’t have that thing you envy in someone else, you have other things you’re grateful for.
2. Name How You’re Feeling
While it might feel easier to pretend it doesn’t bother you that, say, your best friend just got engaged, acknowledging how you feel is key.
When your underlying feeling is addressed, such as “I feel jealous when___,” you can move with the emotion and begin the healing process.
Naming the emotion itself can help defuse it—it allows you to decide how you want to respond to your emotions.
Some key emotions that might be at play:
Is it Jealousy? Perhaps you’re jealous. Jealousy is one of the most difficult emotions to admit feeling because we think of it as a bad feeling.
Jealousy sounds like: “Why aren’t you always doing something great?” “I wish that was happening for me.”
Is it Self-Pity? If you’re engaging in self-pity, you might find yourself showing up with lower energy than usual.
Self-Pity sounds like: “Good for you. Those sort of things never happens to me.” “I wish I could do things like that, but I can’t.”
Is it depression? One of the main symptoms of depression is no longer having the energy to do things you once enjoyed.
Depression sounds like: “I would love to be able to do that, too, but I don’t have the energy.” “I used to have the energy to do that. Now, I can barely stay on top of my daily tasks.”
Are you anxious? When you’re anxious, the idea of having goals and not achieving them is scary.
Anxiety sounds like: “I would like to try that, but I fear...” “I don’t think I’d be able to do that."
3. Identify Areas In Your Life That You Want To Improve
It can be hard to cheer for someone else going after their goals when your own goals feel unclear.
If you’re not clear about your goals, challenge yourself to write them down—yes, on real paper with a pen. For each goal, create a 3-step action plan so you know how to get started.
Then, give yourself a reasonable deadline. “Reasonable” means taking into account what you have going on in other areas of your life and what you are personally capable of doing.
By knowing your goals and clear action steps to get there, you can cheer people on authentically.
4. Congratulate Others Even When It’s Tough
Even when it’s tough, tell people, “Congrats.” I know, it can feel difficult. But there are a few ways to say it: “That sounds great, tell me more.” “That’s amazing.” “You’ve worked hard and it’s paying off.” “Let’s celebrate.” “How can I support you?”
Cheering people on actually improves your relationship with other people, and it can help you flip your own mental script of seeing their win as something to inspire you—not send you into a comparison spiral.
You would want the same behavior in return. Practice a few ways to congratulate others such as “That’s great, that’s amazing, or you’re great at___.”
5. Talk to People About Their Success
If thoughts like “How are they crushing it, and why aren’t I?” pop up, see that as an entry point for you to get curious and find out.
Are you clear about the path to success? If not, ask your successful friend about what it took for them to get to where they are. I’m sure along the way they experienced some bumps in the road.
Or: Spend some time listening to the non-linear journeys other people took to reach their goals. Without Fail and Entrepreneur On Fire are two of my favorite podcasts where people are open about their failures. It helps to hear that people are not always winning and that you can win then fail than win again.
6. Change the Way You Talk To Yourself
The way you talk to yourself might be your biggest hurdle. Speak to yourself kindly. The voice in your head should reflect motivation and inspiration, not doubt and fear.
Try writing down “I am” statements, following it up with something positive. For example: “I am successful in my career.” “I am capable of making progress.”
Also, define your terms. For example: If you want to be successful in your career, consider what your idea of success is. Your idea of success may look different than someone else’s.
7. Address What Holds You Back From Being a Better Version of Yourself
If you’re feeling stuck, dig into why.
●︎ What people, thoughts, and things are holding you back?
●︎ Are you spending too much time with negative people?
●︎ Do you believe in yourself?
●︎ Are you spending your time browsing social media looking at other people achieving their goals?
Despite how things appear for others, real success takes work—and it requires knowing what you want that work to be and connecting deeply with why you want to do it.
Be kind to yourself if you fall into the comparison trap, but know you’re capable of climbing out of it. Even better: You can use it to help you grow into the person you want to be on your own terms.
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