The literary work Instructions to Make Yourself Unhappy secured international recognition for Paul Watzlawick, a key figure in psychology for his contribution to communication theory and psychotherapy.
It is a self-help book in which the author makes a collection of attitudes or behaviors that we often carry out unconsciously and that damage our life.
The purpose of the work Instructions to make yourself unhappy is to invite the reader to detect the aspects of their daily life that they may incur, as the author points out, unknowingly and that hinder us, slowing down our personal growth.
In short, it is necessary to try to detect certain behaviors so as to change them, because, as Watzlawick says, some unconscious attitudes make our life bitter. In this article we highlight important aspects of his work.
First and foremost, be true to yourself
In this chapter of his work, Watzlawick places particular emphasis on the importance of being true to yourself: doing what you want in tune with what you think and feel about it.
As the author states, being true to oneself basically consists in the belief that there is only one right opinion: one’s own.
In this sense, being true to yourself means taking responsibility for the decisions you make by listening to your inner voice ; pursue one’s dreams and goals regardless of what others may think.
It is worth asking: What do we need to achieve our well-being? What are our dreams? Do we really have our life or was it chosen for us?
Self-fulfilling prophecy to make you unhappy
The self-fulfilling prophecy, according to Watzlawick, creates a certain reality as if by magic, because prophecy (the belief about an event) leads exactly to the occurrence of the same.
For example, if I believe I will fail an exam, my behavior will likely be modified by this belief. In other words, if you believe that something will happen, it probably will.
Such an attitude is a world to make yourself unhappy, as you anticipate and worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.
Watzlawick states that pretending that something is spontaneously remembered or forgotten, wanting a gift and feeling frustrated in receiving it just for having expressed that desire, pretending to love a person out of obligation.
In particular, trying to provoke a response through the effort of the will makes what one tries impossible: do we make life bitter in an attempt to achieve behavior that does not appear spontaneously?
In other words, exacerbating a conduct and / or an emotion that must be spontaneous makes it artificial, losing part of its nature and its consequences precisely because it is demanded.
Wouldn’t it be easier to let it arise naturally without demanding something else of ourselves? For the author, this imposition is a clear way of making oneself unhappy.
Making yourself unhappy: If someone loves me, they’re not sane
The author states in his work: “Since we are talking about love, let’s start with an important warning. Dostoevsky said that the biblical commandment love your neighbor as yourself should surely be understood in reverse: you can only love your neighbor when you love yourself. “
In other words, we often make our life bitter by focusing on the love of a person or doubting that someone can love us without realizing that to love someone else it is necessary to start with self-love, the basis of all love.
How can I avoid doubting that a person loves me if I don’t love myself first? When will I find the reasons why the other loves me if I don’t find reasons to love myself?
There are endless ways to make yourself unhappy. Most likely, many of these go unnoticed. To this we owe the emphasis placed by Paul Watzlawick, who provides a different view on the daily situations that embitter us, slowing down our personal growth and development.
What if we stop souring our lives with certain negative attitudes and beliefs and focus on what’s truly important and beneficial to our well-being?