8 Subconscious Behaviors That Stop People From Living Their Best Lives

You don't even realize you're sabotaging your own happiness.

woman with red hair staring Heitor Verdi / Pexels

So much of our inner turmoil is simply the result of conducting a life we don’t inherently agree with, because we have accepted an inner narrative of “normal” and “ideal” without even realizing it.

Simply, there are a few fundamentals of happiness, decision-making, instinct-following, and peace-finding that we don’t seem to understand. Luckily, you can identify the daily habits and subconscious behaviors that stop you from living your best life.


Here are 8 subconscious behaviors that stop people from living the life they really want

1. You're psychologically incapable of being able to predict what will make you happy

Though you believe that creating your best possible life is a matter of deciding what you want and then going after it, your brain can only perceive what it’s known. So, when you choose what you want for the future, you’re actually just re-creating a solution or an ideal of the past.

Ironically, when said ideas don’t come to fruition (things never look the way we think they will), you suffer because you think you’ve failed when, really, you’re most likely experiencing something better than you could have chosen for yourself at the time.


Moral of the story: Living in the moment isn’t a lofty ideal reserved for the zen and enlightened; it’s the only way to live a life that isn’t infiltrated with illusions; it’s the only thing your brain can actually comprehend.



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2. You're constantly trying to take a snapshot of your life and see if you can be happy yet

You anticipate the present moment because you believe that success is somewhere you "arrive," accidentally convincing yourself that any given moment is your life, when it's just a moment in your life.


Because we’re wired to believe that success is somewhere we get to — when goals are accomplished and things are completed — we’re constantly measuring our present moments by how “finished” they are, how good the story sounds, and how someone else would judge the summary.

If at any point you find yourself thinking: “Is this all there is?” you’re forgetting that everything is transitory. There is nowhere to “arrive.” The only thing you’re rushing toward is death.

Accomplishing goals is not a success. How much you learn and enjoy and expand in the process of doing them is.

3. You assume that when it comes to following your 'gut instincts,' happiness is 'good' while fear and pain are 'bad'

When you consider doing something that you truly love and are invested in, you're going to feel an influx of fear and pain, mostly because it will involve being vulnerable. But that's to be expected and is a normal part of life.


When it comes to making decisions, you have to know those bad feelings aren't deterrents. They are indicators that you want to do something, but it scares you, which means they are the things most worth doing!

Not wanting to do something would make you feel indifferent about it. Fear = interest.



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4. You needlessly create problems and crises because you're afraid of actually living your life

The pattern of unnecessarily creating a crisis in your life is actually an avoidance technique. It distracts you from actually having to be vulnerable or held accountable, or whatever it is you’re afraid of.

You’re never upset for the reason you think you are. At the core of your desire to create a problem is simply the fear of being who you are and living the life you want.

5. You think you have to adopt a new line of thinking to change your beliefs, rather than seeking experiences that make that thinking self-evident

A belief is what you know to be true because experience has made it evident to you.

If you want to change your life, change your beliefs. If you want to change your beliefs, go out and have experiences that make them real to you. Not the opposite way around.




6. You think 'problems' are roadblocks to achieving what you want, when they are really just pathways

If you haven’t heard it before, Marcus Aurelius sums this up well: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Ryan Holiday explains it with even greater grace and economy: “The obstacle is the way.”

Simply running into a “problem” forces you to take action to resolve it. That action leads you down the path you had ultimately intended to go anyway, as the only “problems” in your life come down to how you resist who you are and how your life naturally unfolds.

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7. You think your past defines you and is an unchangeable reality, when your perception of it actually changes as you do

Because experience is always multi-dimensional, there are a variety of memories, experiences, feelings, and “gists” you can choose to recall — and what you choose is indicative of your present state of mind.

So many people get caught up in allowing the past to define them, or haunt them, simply because they haven't evolved to the place of seeing how the past didn't prevent them from achieving the life they want. Rather, it facilitated it (see: the obstacle is the way).

This doesn’t mean disregarding or glossing over painful or traumatic events, but being able to recall them with acceptance, and to be able to place them in the storyline of your personal evolution.



8. You try to change other people, situations, and things when anger is just self-recognition

Most negative emotional reactions are you identifying a disassociated aspect of yourself.


Your “shadow selves” are the parts of you that, at some point, you were conditioned to believe were “not okay,” so you suppressed them and have done everything in your power not to acknowledge them. You don’t actually dislike these parts of yourself, though — you absolutely love them.

So when you see somebody else displaying one of these traits, it infuriates you — not because you inherently dislike it, but because you have to fight your desire to fully integrate it into your whole consciousness.

The things you love about others are the things you love about yourself. The things you hate about others are the things you cannot see in yourself.

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Brianna Wiest is a writer, editor, author, and regular contributor to publications such as Huffington Post, Forbes, Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, and many others. She's the author of '101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think,' and other collections of poetry and prose.