Getting out of the way

After a short break I pulled out The Happiness Code again this afternoon and started where I left off, reading about the sixth of Domonique Bertolucci’s ten keys to happiness.

“One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is, ‘How do I hold myself back?’
Once you know the answer you can get out of your way.”

Bertolucci lists the principle of ‘permission’ as the sixth in our quest for happiness. Something we must give ourselves, she says, for no one else can give it to us.

The notion that we would be preventing our own happiness, sabotaging our efforts in some way, or not permitting ourselves to be happy could be foreign to some people.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my ‘life coach’ Karen Anderson when I first received a redundancy from work and planned my sea change (and I’m reminded of this as I just responded to a comment on a previous post about the issue). I was excited about what was before me, but I felt unworthy; as if I didn’t deserve such an opportunity. “It doesn’t seem fair,” I said to her, “that I have this chance.”

I often talk about worth. In the same session with Karen I said I struggled to not feel guilty or undeserved when I had things others didn’t – even if I earned them through hard work or skill.

“Being happy is not a privilege – it is something everyone deserves,” says Bertolucci.

She talks about times in our lives where we seemingly have it all. On paper. And yet we’re still not happy.

“There is nothing wrong with wanting more. There is no reason why you shouldn’t get everything you want from life.”

She tells us to stop apologising for the things we want. “Give yourself permission to shine,” she says.

I had to stop reading at this point because I became quite upset. I had a similar meltdown during my Skype session with Karen yesterday. About the same thing. Kinda.

And it’s something I try not to write about. It may surprise you, but I have a line* I usually draw when it comes time to talking about personal stuff. But this post won’t make sense unless I do – despite how pathetic I may sound as a result.

In my other blog I’ve also written about this book, and – as I’ve done here on a number of occasions – I made a brief comment on the life I thought I’d have… complete with husband / partner and child. Etcetera. I’ve mentioned my singledom here on a number of occasions, including basically admitting that a relationship is something I’d really like.

Well, (shit, shit, shit!) I’ll go one step further. *Insert deep breath here.*

I would like to be in a relationship. In fact, I actually believe that it is the major thing that’s been missing from my life over the past 20-25 years.

Everybody deserves someone who'll make them look forward to tomorrow.There. I said it. It sounds pathetic to me to be so desperate. But, I also realise that I’m wrong in thinking that it’s a weakness to say I ‘need’ (or want?) someone in my life.

I’m reading another novel in which the author is a single woman (searching for happiness – sort of… a very different sort of book!) and she rolls her eyes at comments from her friends about their partners or loved ones and gags when she’s told that their lovers “complete” them.

I’d be eye rolling as well. On the outside. But on the inside I’d be ever-so-slightly envious.

I’ve never been one for c0-dependency. But, although I do see it as a weakness to ‘need’ someone else; I cannot imagine what it would be like to have someone in my life in the way a partner would be. (And yes, there’ll be people here who tell me I’m lucky to not have to fight over the TV remote control!)

To rid of ourselves of whatever’s holding us back, Bertolucci says, we need to challenge our assumptions and identify underlying beliefs. This can be incredibly empowering, she says, although at the same time noting that it takes a lot of practice and reinforcement. (Bugger!)

And I’ve circled back around to the issue of worth and being deserving. Am I saying I’m ‘unloveable’? Well, I know I have my good points but I can certainly understand why no one’s ever really wanted me or become enamoured.

So how is it that we ‘get in the way’ of our own happiness, consciously or unconsciously? Naturally self-sabotage is behind door one. Which for me is something of a cop-out.

“Although I don’t want to be fat and single forever and although I WANT to be attractive to the opposite sex, I overeat and binge-eat – making me fat. And single.” Ta da!

Self-sabotaging behaviour or just a lingo-laden excuse?! We sabotage our own efforts when we feel unworthy or don’t believe we can achieve the results we want, says Bertolucci.

“It’s only when your actions and words are aligned that you can achieve your true potential.”

If I continued with my own example I’d have to accept that my behaviour (over eating etc) does most certainly NOT align with what I say I want from life (to look like a normal person and be attractive to the opposite sex!). I know that some people will tell me I’m loveable DESPITE my weight and that I deserve love, no matter what. Yadda yadda yadda. And for some reason I just can’t go there. Best just to moan about needing to lose weight and do nothing in the interim!

And when the obstacles are real and not necessarily of our own making, Bertolucci tells us not to let them deter us, saying most are not insurmountable. When we use ‘but’ or ‘if only’ we are the ones getting in our own way, she says, rather than giving ourselves permission to get the most out of life.

Do you feel ‘worthy’ of happiness?
Do you get in your own way or self-sabotage?




  1. This post speaks to me. I’ve just begun to change what I put a the end of “I Am…” to change from a negative to a positive ending. 2013 is the year I stop feeling guilty for not working 18 hrs, 7 days a week. Life is too short to live without joy. I love what I do but I’m more than that.

    Thanks for a great read.

    • Thanks Maureen and thanks also for commenting! I’ve made a sea change in the last few months and NOT working full time has always been something I’ve aspired to – along with doing something in line with my interests.

      I’m finally doing that… although it’s stranger than I thought it would be! I feel quite unproductive sometimes. But… I have to stop myself and look around – taking time to smell the roses… and all that!

      But, as I said in the post – even now when my life should be nearing perfection, I still feel like there’s something missing!

  2. There is absolutely nothing wrong or desperate about saying you want a partner. NOTHING WRONG AT ALL. In fact, it is SO RIGHT. I feel like we live in a culture (at least in America) where hooking up is supposed to fill one’s soul and friendship is supposed to provide companionship. I feel like our culture tells us if women ask for love, it will scare off all potential partners. That is crap! When I was single, I read the book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” The few things I really took from the book were that 1) if you don’t ask for what you want in a relationship you will never be happy in the relationship and 2) you DESERVE to be in a happy healthy relationship.

    I am so proud of you for saying you want love “out loud” or “out blog.” You deserve to love yourself, and to find a partner that loves you, too. Sometimes you start self-acceptance, a love comes around and that love helps you love yourself even more. Whatever the case, now you can be honest with us about your desire to find love, and maybe that small step will help you stop masking your true feelings with corn chips and chocolate koalas.

    Bravo, Deb!

  3. I agree with Julia…Nothing wrong with wanting a partner to share your life with! This post touched on so many things with me.
    1. going through my treatment..I kept repeating i’m unlovable…then during a group exercise..(wish I could find my copy right now) there was a sentence about worthiness. I questioned something and the instructor said, Perhaps its not unlovable you feel but unworthy of love… from yourself
    Bing Bang Boom. Nail on head. It wasn’t so much unworthy as a whole but unworthy of love FROM me.
    2. Co-dependency isn’t about needing someone it is about needing to TAKE CARE of another BEFORE yourself…. just wanted to clarify that wanting, needing a relationship is natural AND healthy.
    3. I went years without a relationship. I wrote out affirmations and descriptions of the person I wanted as a partner. What my relationship would look like. and when I finally started just focusing on me, I met him. In a place that was the most unlikely place.
    as you know with all the hard work you are doing right now our thoughts guide our actions.
    Admitting it is the first step to moving forward….AWESOME job

  4. Hi Deb,
    I have to echo the others’ comments about wanting a relationship. That is quite normal and natural.
    I’m enjoying all of your happiness related posts. I’m not saying too much, but digesting all of the questions you raise.

  5. Deb there is nothing at all wrong with wanting to be in a relationship. Most people do! Being independent is important and that should ALWAYS be maintained. But it is wonderful to have someone to share things with (including the remote) 🙂

    • Hee hee. Yes Neen, when some of my friends tell me I’m lucky I’m single I remember back to the lengths they went to in order to meet someone in the first place!


  6. Hi Deb,
    I agree with everyone that there isn’t a single thing wrong with wanting a relationship.

    Have you considered that maybe a guy is only one piece of the puzzle? No matter who the guy is, they do not “complete” a woman–and you even mention this point. I only got truly happy when I realized that and supplemented my husband with my own women friends who I could talk to about breast cancer scares, feeling fat, stupid people at the gym, fashion and sales, vents… It was the women friends who made me feel like I am a likeable person just as I am this very moment. This fun sort of happiness only happened to me at age 39.

    My mother never really had fun with woman friends outside our family, and I always felt bad for her because she was lonely during my childhood. She missed out on so much laughing with friends. Many married women are lonely. So, married or not, we’re all looking for the big picture of a set of people (and possibly an adorable little dog like Keebler who always thinks I’m cute and never criticizes) who support and encourage us.

    🙂 Marion

    • I think I’d definitely have to balance a partner out with friends Marion! I’d struggle to be with someone if they didn’t allow me a lot of freedom (to have time to myself – given I’ve been single for all of my life! – and get the nourishment I need from friends / family!).

      As for the dog… well, not so much! 😉

  7. I will tell you that you are loveable despite being overweight. But until you believe that, you’re unlikely to open up enough to allow anyone to get close enough. Or put yourself in a position to meet them.

    There are plenty of skinny miserable people out there!

    I think you’re fab, despite only knowing you a short amount of time so far.


  8. We are ALL worthy of happiness. Am reminded of this:

    A man once told the Buddha, “I want happiness.” The Buddha replied, “First remove ‘I’, that’s ego. Then remove ‘want’, that’s desire. And now you’re left with happiness.”

    And when we want what we already have, we open the door to receive so much more.

  9. I love this post, Deb!

    It is interesting in how people are different in what are hot button issues to them. I think I wouldn’t feel guilty if I was in your postition but I don’t really know that.

    And I don’t think there is anything pathetic about wanting to have a man in your life, though I don’t admit that it’s something I want much in my life. I suspect that 13 years ago I unconsciously decided I’m not going to date anyone, because that would require revealing all my shameful secrets.

    And I haven’t.

    • Oh Satu, I thought it was just me who’d kind of ‘accepted’ that I would have to be single forever.

      I’m intrigued by your decision / thoughts / secrets you’d hate to share.

      Most of my concerns are re the physical me and my body – but having said that… I can be a bit obsessive and neurotic (and possibly a b*tch) so not sure how someone would cope with that!


  10. I’m really hoping that Mr Lucky just pops up in your new life somewhere. You deserve it and I’m glad you put it out there, out to the universe. You would make a wonderful partner!

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