How to Stop Living a Life You Don't Want

By Romance Recovery's Johanna Lyman for

Don't Live a Life You Don't WantDon't Live a Life You Don't WantDo you know someone who likes to pretend that they're an ostrich? They spend their lives feeling miserable and trying to hide that fact. The truth is -- everyone sees right through them. They're actually trying to hide their unhappiness from themselves.

Putting your head in the sand and ignoring the things that are making your life miserable aren't effective coping strategies in the long run. We've all done it at some point in our lives; maybe we stayed in a relationship long after we knew it should end, or maybe we stuck it out in a dead end job, hoping things would change. But eventually, unless you want to stay suspended for the rest of your life, you have to pull your head out of the sand and take a long, hard look at what's really happening.

It can be frightening to really take stock of what's going on. But I think what's most scary is the fear of the unknown. Once you assess your situation and make a plan to change it, the fear becomes manageable. No matter how anxious you think you are, the very act of taking charge and actually doing something is tremendously liberating. The fear begins to turn to exhilaration as you take responsibility for your life.

Related: What Do You Do When the Attraction Fades?

One key thing that keeps people stuck, whether in relationships or other areas of their life, is the belief that you don't deserve to be outrageously happy. It's not true! You are not supposed to put up with a job you don't love, you're not meant to live in a part of the world that doesn't thrill you, and you're not intended to maintain relationships that aren't supportive and nurturing.

This is not a dress rehearsal, it's your life. Each of us has unique gifts, and we're meant to share those gifts with others in a way that has a positive impact on everyone.

1. Choose an area of your live that's needs improvement (Let's pick dating).

2. Make a list of what you want for yourself. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, start with a list of what you don't want, then determine what the opposites of your "don't wants" are.

3. Find a friend who can be unconditionally supportive. Share your list of wants with them. Ask them if they can see you having all the things you want. Because this is your unconditionally supportive friend, they will say "yes!" If they don't say "yes!", find someone else.

Ask yourself this question: "If I believed I really deserved these things, how would I behave?" For example, if you want a fit and athletic partner, you'd probably want to be fit and athletic yourself.

5. Start "acting as if." Commit to behaving the way you would behave if you really believed you deserve the things you want. Find an accountability partner-- a friend who also does this exercise, or a life coach, and report in every week. Share your successes as well as your relapses.

Related: 3 Steps to Create a Supportive Community in Your Life

6. Have compassion for yourself as you begin making these changes. One of the biggest obstacles to change is that we set the bar too high, then we don't give ourselves credit for what we do accomplish. We try to change every aspect of our lives at once, and it's overwhelming. Pick one thing and work on it until you see a change.

7. Be clear about where you're starting from. One of the ways we can be like ostriches is by refusing to recognize habitual patterns we have. For example, if you want a partner with integrity, you need have integrity. Are there areas in your life where you're not acting with integrity? 'Fess up to yourself and work on getting into alignment.

Don't forget to celebrate every success, even if it seems small. This will help you maintain momentum for massive change in the long run.

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