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The 4 Traits of People Who Set Themselves Up for Misery

by Kate Feathers 5 days ago in humanity

How to start living a life you actually like

Photo by Rafael Barros from Pexels

I used to be miserable.

Just two years ago, I spent all my time working a job I hated just so I had enough money to pay rent in a city I had wished to live in for 6 years. I always wanted to move to a foreign country, study at a prestigious university and work any job that would enable me to live this dream — yet when I finally reached that final destination after years of dreaming, it wasn’t enough.

My dream crumbled underneath me. I got everything I wanted, and I still wasn’t satisfied.

Fast-forward to now — I have a job I love, I’m surrounded by people who bring out the best in me, I spend my days engaging in activities I enjoy and after a very long time, I feel content with the way I live my life.

However, there are still many people who struggle to turn their lives around and who always feel miserable but have no clue how to escape that reality. What follows are the traits of people who set themselves up for misery — it’s not the universe that makes life hard for them, but rather their own mindset.

They Procrastinate on Progress

If there’s something I pride myself on, it’s my self-discipline and motivation. These traits enable me to take concrete steps to make my dreams come true, and they are the exact thing I lacked during the times when I was deeply dissatisfied with the way I lived my life.

I know many people who have so much potential to achieve great things — they want to be amazing physicists, famous stand-up comedians or artistic musicians. Yet none of that has come true, and the years keep passing by.

I’ve noticed a common theme with people who find it hard to find success in their lives when it comes to both their mental well-being and the way they earn their living — they’re procrastinators.

They procrastinate by doing dozens of different activities that drag their focus away from their ultimate dream. They procrastinate by watching TV shows day in and day out, which only dampens their motivation the longer they lie in bed. They procrastinate by never stepping out of their comfort zone and always trying to find some excuse for refusing to grow both personally and professionally.

They procrastinate on the life they want and cry about the life they have.

I’ve been there too — and the only way I managed to get out of that rut was by forcing myself to remind myself of my priorities every single day and acting on that until it became a habit.

“I want to write. I’m a writer. Writing is my number one priority.” I repeated this to myself as the months passed by, and writing has slowly become my routine. It’s my job now.

“With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.”— James Clear

They Gatekeep Imagination from Entering Reality

I’ve always been a huge dreamer. I used to talk to my former friend about our dreams and goals all the time, discussing what our perfect lives would look like and how happy we’d be when it all came true.

The difference between us was that I believed these dreams could be fulfilled. I believed that even though the world was a scary place, I would always find a way to make it, to achieve anything I ever set out to do — and I always worked hard for it.

My friend preferred the dreams to the actual reality most of the time. Her head was in the clouds while her body was stuck in a life with little money, a cleaning job and a degree that she disliked studying for most of the time. I was in the same position as her for a long time and I hated every second of it.

We complained together, we tried to get through it, we discussed how we could change our lives — but when it came down to it, she often insisted that the world was much more difficult and complex than I made it out to be. I was too naïve, too innocent. I thought I had no limits when in fact, following my dreams would always be incredibly hard for me. That’s how she made it sound at least.

Ever since we stopped being friends, I’ve focused my energy on looking for opportunities and on working hard to make it as a writer, something I’ve been very successful in so far.

She thought her reality couldn’t accommodate the limitlessness of her dreams because she inherently believed that the real world was too hard a place to be.

People who set themselves up for misery don’t trust in their ability to change their lives because they think that it can’t be that easy. It’s a failure of the imagination. Everything that’s created by humans on planet Earth has its root in somebody's mind, and that’s where people often fail.

They refuse to invite their dreams into reality.

As soon as I set myself a goal and started manifesting my wishes in the real world, my life improved a thousand-fold. I believed in myself. I believed in my dreams. And I believed that I existed in a universe where anything was possible.

Once you start putting the work in what you believe, it turns out that improving your life actually isn’t that hard after all.

“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.” — Roy T. Bennett

They Always Chase the Perfect Ideal

Every single time my dad finds a new girlfriend, he thinks she’s “the right one” after two days of knowing her. As the weeks pass by and he slowly begins to realise that she’s an imperfect human being like any other, he ends up disappointed and moves on to date somebody else.

It’s a nightmare.

He’s never satisfied, always complaining about how he’s just terribly unlucky with women because all of them are horrid. Well, I’d say the reality looks more like this: “All of the women are real, and that’s not good enough for me.”

Deep down, my dad is a hopeless romantic. He wants a love story with a happy ending, he wants the perfect romance that lasts a lifetime. Instead, he ruins all his relationships and ends up bitter and alone before he tries again, never losing hope that this time, it will work out. This time, he’ll catch the ideal version of happiness. This time, he’ll run faster.

Miserable people chase something they can’t ever catch without realising that they’re ruining themselves in the process. They only want the perfect things, the perfect people, the perfect life story.

They want an incredible outcome and they ignore the wonderful imperfection of their journey. And that’s the ultimate mistake — expecting your life to be an outcome is an unachievable goal since the only way you can experience life is through seeing it as a journey with only one destination. Death.

If you don’t enjoy the ride, you’ll be so disappointed by the end of it that the destination won’t even matter anymore.

The only way to live a happy life is to make your peace with the fact that life is imperfect, life is complicated, life has a twisted sense of humour.

Imperfections are the only thing we have so we might as well open our eyes to their beauty.

They Don’t Think They Deserve Happiness

There’s one central thing at the core of many issues people face, and that’s the fact that we inherently believe we’re unlovable and undeserving.

If we achieve some sort of success, we automatically think we’re a fraud and we aren’t qualified enough to receive what’s been given to us. If someone loves us unconditionally, we find it hard to accept that somebody would actually tolerate our dark side.

I used to struggle with this too until I finally came to the conclusion that self-love is the only way forward.

If you don’t believe you deserve nice things, you’ll never try hard enough to get them, and you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what if. If you don’t believe you’re lovable, you’ll attract toxic relationships into your life, or you’ll sabotage the good ones you have.

It all begins with your empathy and love towards your own self. There’s a line in a TV show Sex Education that really stuck with me:

“It’s hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves.”

So give yourself love. Hug yourself, learn to think positively about yourself, be your best friend. You will only ever receive the love you believe you truly deserve.

If you don’t trust you have an inherent right to be happy, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable life.


There’s a way out of making your life harder than it needs to be.

If you commit to doing the following things, you’ll have a much bigger chance at making progress on your path of self-growth:

Stop procrastinating on progress and develop habits that make you take concrete steps towards your goals.

Realise that there are no limits to what you can realistically achieve in this world.

Stop chasing perfection and choose to enjoy the journey instead.

Start believing that you deserve to achieve everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Once I began to manifest my dreams into the real world, amazing things started happening.

Misery is a feeling that swallows us whole — it’s time for you to climb your way out of it and piece yourself together again.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung


Kate Feathers

Student of Literature & Languages, I write about relationships, self-improvement, feminism, writing and mental health. Contact me: [email protected]

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