Misery for dummies

Most of us don't need any help in creating misery in our life. We do pretty well all by ourselves. But here are a few tips if you would like to really excel in this area. Misery, like happiness, tends to come about through thousands of choices that we make over time. So, it is important that you make decisions that are completely at odds with what you really want for your life.

Alternatively, you can set yourself a miserable or unachievable goal and make sure all your efforts are taking you in this direction. You might have to think about your choices at first, but over time they will come fairly automatically. Maybe you would like to be in a more satisfying job or relationship, but make sure you resist all impulses to do something different. You can help by telling yourself it is too hard or you have tried before and nothing has changed.

Ignore those pesky positive people who tell you that anything worth achieving requires persistent effort. Resist any temptation to learn from prior attempts and refine your plans. Sure you might be miserable, but at least your circumstances are familiar and require little effort. Don't listen to those people who tell you to get some professional help. Reassure yourself by thinking it is only other people or your circumstances which has to change. If you must act, consider only unhelpful courses of action - nervous breakdown, drinking heavily, suicide, making yourself sick - you get the idea.

You can't be really unhappy unless you also have miserable relationships. Some good ideas are to engage in as much blaming, criticising, exploding, complaining and not talking as possible. You might have to practise these for some time until the desired result is achieved. I suggest targeting your partner's hot buttons or sensitivities, but when they react, refuse to take any responsibility for your part. Instead of controlling your own responses, try to control other people's behaviour by pointing out what you find annoying. I assure you that if you look hard enough, you will find something.

Try not to cut people any slack or find a better way or time to talk to them. With a bit of effort you can increase the tension nicely by imposing what you want on others or giving in and getting resentful. Be careful, as agreeing to disagree or working towards a compromise, will only undermine your efforts.

What else? Live your life completely out of balance. Ignore connecting with family and friends. Who wants fun and relaxation? Just work, work, work! Ignore any warning signs your body or others may give you and keep going regardless. Over time, the full benefits will kick in – perhaps depression, anxiety, problematic drinking, health concerns, explosive anger, out-of-character behaviour, etc. Alternatively, go to the other extreme by putting your needs above those of others. Sure your partner might be complaining about your drinking, affairs, or lack of time with the children. But, hey, you've got needs and your needs have to come first.

One of the hidden benefits of misery is that the longer it continues the easier it is to maintain. After a while, you get used to it and it almost feels normal - at least for you. You can also use your history to excuse yourself from taking any action to help yourself. So, when you get tired of blaming others, you can diversify and blame your past more generally. Just make sure you don't bring attention to those thousands of decisions you made during that time. Keep the focus on the parts that were out of your control rather than what you could have done to help yourself. With a bit of extra effort you can turn misery into a game everyone around you can play!

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