The unhappy personality

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If you always need to be right, puff yourself up, and expect empathy from others… don’t be surprised if you’re unhappy.

Are you unhappy?  Persistently unhappy?  If so, you might want to check whether you have the following behavioural traits.

These traits seem to be characteristic of what we might call ‘the unhappy personality’ (UP for short).

NEEDING TO BE RIGHT

In every situation, you have a choice.  You can either enforce your own rightness, or make friends.

UPs spend far more time proving their own rightness, than they do making friends.  In most situations, they simply can’t resist pushing their own point of view.  They find it very hard to back down.

This makes them very unhappy.  UPs do not properly understand the loop of consultation, whereby humans check what others think, and adapt accordingly.  Other people will tend to walk away, leaving the UP isolated and with few friends.

FRAGILE CONFIDENCE

To every situation, you bring a sense of self.  You can either hold yourself lightly, or you can be heavily self-protective.

UPs spend a lot more time protecting their sense of self, than they do accepting themselves.  In most situations, they are driven by a need to justify themselves, and when this fragile sense of self is threatened, they melt down.

This makes them very unhappy.  UPs fundamentally lack self-acceptance.  Because they don’t accept themselves, they build a fragile shell of self-protection around them.  This shell is designed to stop them being exposed to a loss of reputation.  The shell can be a false way of talking, a way of presenting oneself, etc.  Periodically, events will happen to break the shell, and at those times the meltdowns will happen.

ONE-WAY EMPATHY EXPECTATIONS

In every situation, there is an emotional motorway between you and others.  You affect them, and they affect you.

UPs have a huge capacity to see how others affect them, but very little capacity to see how they affect others.  In most situations, they focus on the emotional impact of others on them, but ignore the emotional impact they have on others.

This makes them very unhappy.  UPs are, essentially, blind to other people’s welfare.  They expect others to look after themselves emotionally, but also expect those same others to look after them emotionally.  Others eventually become exhausted, and move away.

AN EXERCISE

The next time you interact with people, try the following:

  1. Be friendly.  You don’t need to prove your rightness, or others’ wrongness.
  2. Be genuine.  You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone.  You’re fine as you are.
  3. Empathise.  If you can show an appreciation of others’ position in every situation, you’re doing well.
You can still be assertive, but in a friendly, genuine, empathic way.

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SUMMARY

Certain behavioural traits seem characteristic of unhappy people:

  1. Preferring to be right, rather than friendly, leading to loneliness
  2. Preferring to project a falsely pumped-up self, rather than being genuine, leading to exhausted meltdowns
  3. Demanding to be empathised with, rather than empathising with others, leading to isolation
In contrast, being friendly, genuine, and empathic, seem to promote individual happiness.
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