You've done something with your life. You got the job. You found the spouse. You had the kids. You pay your bills (mostly) on time. You know what an RRSP and an RESP are. You take a lovely vacation every year, you like your house and you even like your dog.
So...why do you still feel stuck and miserable? Why do you secretly dream of a better, more fulfilling life? You are not even really sure what that means but you can't get rid of the thought. Are you weird? Broken? An alien? Why can't you just be happy with your great life?
You might be feeling really alone and like everybody but you seems to have their dream life. First of all, you are not alone. There are others feeling the same way you are. Secondly, you are doing just fine. Even more than fine. There is nothing wrong with you.
So, how do you rid yourself of this feeling in your gut that there is potentially more to be had for your career, life or relationships? Well, unfortunately I can't tell you exactly how to get rid of it here but here are fifteen things to consider:
1. Just because you think it or feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Thoughts and feelings are just that. THOUGHTS and FEELINGS. They are not always a mirror of our reality and are not always good or bad. Sometimes they just are. Practice feeling the feels and thinking the thoughts and sending them on their way.
2. Do you take time to just “be”? If you feel like you aren't completely happy with your life, don’t spend day and night trying to figure out what's missing like there is a deadline. There isn’t. Take the pressure off. Just like you can’t force a sneeze, and you can’t pull a flower from its bud. You need to resist the urge to try to change everything all at once and let your unhappiness consume you. Take a breathe. Starting paying attention to your life. I call this "Gentle Awareness". Gently take note of when this feeling is the strongest. What exactly is it that feels "off". Practice letting life unfold and pay attention.
3. Do you regularly do things that bring you joy? When we feel stuck we tend to spin our wheels, become very serious and can spiral into negativity. We can forget how to have fun and experience joy. Practice reminding your brain what it feels like to experience something beyond hopelessness, negativity, boredom, frustration etc. Do you like gardening? Find one to work in. Enjoy animals? Figure out how to be around them. Like to paint? Dance? Wine taste? Play Bingo? Doesn’t matter. Do IT! Even if you don’t feel like it. ESPECIALLY if you don’t feel like it!
4. Do NOT compare yourself to others. You’ve heard all the cliches. You don’t know what battle other people are facing. You don’t know their life, their demons, their struggles. If this is an area of weakness for you, maybe it’s time to take a break from Pinterest for a while and get out into nature. Practice not focusing on others all the time and take a break from overthinking what you perceive as your own inadequacies. Sheesh, you have enough on your plate attending to your own basic hygienic needs, paying your bills, getting some daily exercise, managing your stress (ie: laughing, meditating, exercising, participating in a hobby, being with others etc.), giving your body the sleep it needs, healthy food and adequate hydration each day. AND if you are actually doing all of these things…I’d say you are doing a-okay. If you truly feel there is room for more “self-love” in your life, then start taking some small steps towards caring for yourself better. Some might even say you simply have no business worrying about others when you need to be taking care of yourself. Believe me, nothing will bring you down faster than avoiding your own problems by overly consuming yourself with the problems of others.
5. Be grateful for what you’ve got. Think about and even write down things you are grateful for. Yes, it sounds cheesy. I don’t care.
6. Practice being you. Practice saying what you are thinking and feeling instead of what you think others expect you to say and feel. Start doing things you want to do even if you are the only one doing them and other people think they are stupid. Seriously, what others think of you really isn’t any of your business.
7. Stop focusing on the barriers, obstacles and blockages and believing they can’t be overcome. Some of these are excuses. They might be your mind’s misguided attempts to keep you safely bubble wrapped (our minds do this). You have to trust me on this. You are a smart and capable person who can figure stuff out. Google it, start asking people, read books, get professional help. Figure. It. Out. Practice not defaulting to self sabotage and rationalizing all the reasons why you can’t do things. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to find your way through most things within your control. You are just deciding not to. If you can’t control something, practice letting it go.
8. If you decide to make some changes, start with small ones. Go slow but don’t stop. Don’t try to change your entire life in one day. Small incremental steps over time, done with love will take you where you need to be.
9. Should you decide to make some changes to your life, please remember that it's ok if you don't hit your target all the time. Some days you will feel on top of the world, and other days you might feel like a complete failure. It will probably be hard. You might be scared and filled with doubt. Figure out a way to hang on through the shit storms. You need at lease one supportive person in your life who is trustworthy. A buddy who can talk you down from the proverbial ledge or pass you a paper bag when you are hyperventilating. They will also tell you if you are truly being ridiculous for no other reason than you actually are. Not because they want to keep you safe, or the same, or down. Please don’t share your hopes and dreams with anybody you know who will not be supportive or will turn into Judgy McJudgerson. This will simply cause you more pain and fill you with more doubt.
10. Quit blaming others for things you might be unhappy about in your life. This is about you. Plain and simple. End of story.
11. If you feel stuck, don’t keep doing what you’re doing. It’s not working. Again, I’m not saying you need a complete life overhaul or that you are doing anything wrong but if you aren't happy, consider what I'm about to say next. Practice simple things like mixing up your routines, who you associate with and talk to, what you read, what you think about etc. You can’t change your perspective by doing the same things you have been. Also, when trying to make some changes in your life, think about why you haven't made these changes before or why they seem so darn difficult to start or maintain. What are the actual reasons you haven't been beginning or following through? Example: you want to begin exercising. You join a gym. You tell yourself you will go every day for 1 hour. It turns out it takes you 20 minutes from your house to the gym treadmill. An hour long workout means you need to take one hour and 40 minutes out of your day to exercise. Do this 7 days and it takes a big chunk out of your week that already feels overwhelming and too busy. It might be completely doable but it might not be or it might be better as something you work up to. Also, you hate the treadmill. You feel like everybody is looking at your bum when you jog, you don't like the florescent lighting and the room usually smells like fart. So, what is it about this exactly that makes you want to jump out of bed and hit the gym? STOP TORTURING YOURSELF!! Adding exercise to your life is a great goal but does it need to be so painful? Some people are energized by the gym. They love the social aspect, the cutting edge machines, the classes, the music, they can walk there in 5 minutes etc. There is something that compels them to go there. There is an actual reason. If you don't have a reason is it really a surprise that you aren't following through on your commitment? If there is zero enthusiasm, there will be zero lasting change. Period. I'm not saying you will always be enthusiastic about everything all the time but do a simple cost-benefit analysis here. If you want to begin exercising, how about starting a little slower? Maybe 2 days per week for 30 minutes? Love walking with headphones pumping the Rocky theme into your ears and running up a set of stairs a few times? Do that instead. Find something you can drum up at least an ounce of enthusiasm for. Please.
12. Work on putting the past behind you and letting the future unfold. Constant overthinking, ruminating, beating ourselves up and trying to control every aspect of life is futile. This is not to be confused with healthy habits, routines, plans and intentionally learning from our past mistakes. All potentially good things. I'm also not saying we have zero control over our life because we certainly do but maybe stop pushing so hard. I’m saying to work on being aware of opportunities presenting themselves NOW. Practice being present and mindful. Don’t miss what IS because of what WAS or what COULD be.
13. Where do your values, passions and gifts intersect? This is your sweet spot. If you don’t know what falls into this space, it’s time to figure it out. AND when you do, don’t just file the info. away. Know your values and live by them. Understand your passions and seek them out. Identify your gifts and then use them. Seek work and hobbies that fulfill your sweet spot. If you feel stuck after reading this, reread point #7.
14. Have faith. Open yourself up to possibility.
15. You are enough, just as you are. Sure, maybe there is room for improvement but even if you NEVER change a thing…you are worthy of good things, of respect and of love.
Ready to make a move and want some support to make it easier and more successful? I can help!