Identifying When You’re Unhappy And Making A Change

It’s funny, but sometimes you don’t realize how unhappy you are with something/someone until you remove it/them from your life. Like what? A job, friends, significant others, weight, substance abuse, other bad habits, where you live, belongings, etc.

There have been quite a few times in my life when A. I was really unhappy but was in denial about the unhappiness and B. finally admitted to myself that I was unhappy but stayed in the unhappiness for way too long.

The most recent was a job, the most difficult was a long-term relationship, and there are countless examples in between. For the bigger life picture circumstances (where I lived, where I worked, who I was surrounding myself with), I tend to go through the same behavioral pattern where I try to convince myself that I’m happy. I blame the unhappiness on everything else but the actual problem, make excuses, rationalize, try to find the positive, hold onto the good moments and keep hoping for change.

The truth is, as Albert Einstein so famously said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I usually cross the happiness-unhappiness threshold when I’m starting to really compromise my sanity, my life.

Having made a recent change that exponentially impacted my happiness, something I knew I should have done a really long time ago, I’m working on being much more mindful of recognizing when someone/something is truly effecting my happiness. And once identified, not letting it linger for more than it needs to by taking action and making a change. Especially situations in which I take on the unhappiness out of fear of letting down others.

Anywayyy, I wanted to talk about this here because I know I’m not alone when it come to unhappiness denial and staying in the unhappiness-for-too-long camp. Even though being unhappy sounds obvious, sometimes accepting it is really hard and making the change is even harder. Here’s a list to keep in mind if you’re struggling with happiness in different areas of your life:

Some signs of unhappiness:
Trying to convince yourself that you’re happy with something/someone
Trying to convince others that you’re happy with something/someone
Feel anxious everyday about something/someone
Avoiding something/someone
Dreaming/thinking about the future without someone/something in it
Complaining about something/someone often
Projecting unhappiness on everything but the actual problem (ex: you hate your job but blame the commute, surrounding lunch options, room temperature)
Feel hopeless, defeated, disappointed in yourself or depressed
Have physical symptoms like fatigue, weight gain or loss, acne, etc.
Numb the unhappiness with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, television, or excessive busyness
Seeing changes in your personality and confidence

Does anyone else struggle with identifying unhappiness and making a change?




You may also like


  1. I so needed to hear this today, thank you. I’m really unhappy at work and keep rationalizing it away by thinking how annoying it is to change jobs, how they pay me well, how a new job could be just as bad, etc. I really just need to take the plunge and get out of here!

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I’ve fallen into unhappiness denial quite recently and thought moving across the country to LA would alleviate those emotions. While moving definitely didn’t solve the problem I had with letting go of someone who wasn’t fulfilling my happiness, I do think it gave me the courage to finally sever all ties with them. Happy to report that it made a huge and positive difference, but I do agree that it’s hard to identify when it’s happening and even harder to actually make it happen.

  3. I get this so much, and there’s a certain aspect of I just have to stick it out and it will get better as well, which is sometimes true but I feel like I’m trying to teach myself that I don’t have to settle for that if I don’t want to

    – Natalie

  4. I’m definitely in this spot right now with work.. I think the difference is that I know it but I don’t know what to do about it because it’s not just my job but the overall career choice.

    Also my current living situation, but hopeful that that will be changing soon!

  5. I’ve just ended a 17 year relationship. 17 years! It feel me strange to write these words & to look at them. I kept thinking I was in it too long to give up; “keep trying!” But ultimately I just compromised on myself. I gave up on me & all the things I wanted & deserved. I hope the universe rewards my bravery. I remain hopeful : )

  6. I just resigned from a job that I no longer believe in. I started to feel unhappy one year in, but I chose to soothe the urge to quit with the little things that did make me happy (fantastic friends at work, the 2/10 times I’d feel proud about an output, the salary). I still don’t know what exactly I’ll be doing next, but I now feel relieved at the idea of having one less stressor in my life.

  7. Every beginning of year I choose a word that I try to pursue, related to something that made me unhappy during the previous year. I started doing this after realizing I was for 4 years in a job I didn’t like (I only liked the salary, close distance to home and flexible hours). That year I chose ‘change’ as my word, I quit my job, started a master and did changes in my life. Next year I chose ‘love’, then ‘planning’. It’s been my way to eliminate things that make me unhappy without any unachievable goals.

    1. This is a really great mindset. I never thought about focusing on one specific word for my yearly goal. It seems easier to focus on and break what you want into easy steps. Congrats on working on your Masters that is awesome!

  8. Denial about unhappiness is something that is quite ubiquitous with people i believe because it is easier to stay with what is familiar than to take a risk and make a change that you believe will make you happy. I think it is one of those things where after you go through the denial and maybe the hurt or fear with admitting that something isn’t working for you, looking back in hindsight, you will realised how happy you are that you took the chance and made the change.

    Emily |

  9. Really needed this, thank you. The last one was huge for me recently – “Seeing changes in your personality and confidence.”

  10. Hi, I’m new here in the comments but always follow the blog. I suffered from depression when I was finishing my post grad course. It took me long 6 months to admit that I needed help and that it was not ok to feel that way. And the worst part in the denial I believe is the following thought: Have everything, a good family, a good job, a not so bad salary, a handsome boyfriend…what is wrong with me?”. And the truth is that if these things are not making you happy, if your job is too much pressure, if your handsome boyfriend don’t appreciate you, they are not good. But it’s really hard to admit. Sorry for the big lines… Just a confession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *