“I have no right to be unhappy, I really have such a great life — so many people in the world are suffering and have much bigger problems than me.”
I used to find myself saying that … and my clients often say it. I learned to start sessions by telling my clients that I know that there are people who have a rougher life than you and that you shouldn’t complain, but this is a space where all of your pain, suffering, and sadness matters.
It’s hard for us to let go of the story we carry that because we live in a nice home, have healthy kids, and a “great” life, we “should” be happy.
But maybe it’s not enough. Maybe what we believe “should” make us happy isn’t what really does make us happy.
Do you ever beat yourself up saying things like “my life is great, what is wrong with me? why can’t I just be happy?” and “why can’t I just be grateful and enjoy my life?”
The longing doesn’t go away. We ache for something more. Perhaps you wonder if there is anything else – maybe this is it? Maybe you should just accept your life as it is — it’s not that bad, right?
Listen to your heart’s call to you.
Being a mom is such an honor and a gift, but it’s hard work and often feels like a thankless job. We’re under-appreciated, over-touched, tirelessly needed, and it’s exhausting. It’s okay to admit that you feel a little alone, empty, unfulfilled, and uninspired. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, it simply makes you human.
It’s only when you surrender to the truth – that living in a nice community, being “mom”, having material things, and living a ‘great’ life is all good…but something else is missing, you aren’t as happy as you want to be.
Resisting how you feel causes us to suffer more – we’re arguing with reality.
I believe that what’s usually missing is YOU – along the path of motherhood, you’ve sacrificed yourself, your feelings, your needs, your spark – in a bid to make your kids’ lives better. And it’s time to bring all of you back and remember that you matter.
The Four Things You Must Stop Doing To Find Happiness
1- Stop thinking of happiness as the absence of pain and sadness
I don’t think most of us are longing for the always smiley, superficial, facade of happiness; rather a sense of self-contentment, inner peace, and a feeling of being at home in life. I think we are looking for a feeling of being truly alive and fulfilled.
But I do think that many of us resist what we think is bad or sad in life. Unfortunately, when we resist parts of our experience, we end up living a half-lived life. There’s no ability to turn down the feeling of pain without turning down the feeling of happiness and joy. When we believe that sadness and pain are the enemy of feeling happy, we put on a facade – pretending we are happy when we are crying inside – and the facade moves us further from what we want most.
When we sit in the darkness, we can then experience and appreciate the light. Feel the feels!
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~Eckhart Tolle
2- Stop comparing and minimizing your “unhappiness”
Comparing your life to others or more specifically comparing your sadness, level of pain, or happiness to others is a waste of time.
Comparison is a happiness killer.
Trust yourself. If you’re not happy, it’s okay, it’s a great place to start. You deserve to “feel” good inside and no one can tell you whether you do or don’t or whether you should or shouldn’t. We have to stop living our lives in comparison to others if we really want to find deep and sustainable happiness. Your inner experience is unique to you.
Feelings are inarguable – they aren’t right or wrong, they just are.
“I am convinced that the deepest desire within each of us is to be liberated from the controlling influences of our own psychic madness or patterns of fear. All other things–the disdain of ordinary life, the need to control others rather than be controlled, the craving for material goods as a means of security and protection against the winds of chaos–are external props that serve as substitutes for the real battle, which is the one waged within the individual soul.” ~ Caroline Myss
3- Stop sweeping the “bad stuff” under the carpet in an effort to make everything seem okay (aka denial)
We do this with the best of intentions – we want to create a good life for our kids, we want to stay married, we want it all to be okay because we are committed to our families. And in many ways we are happy — our kids bring us great joy.
And we don’t want to be a downer.
So we become masters at rationalizing. We tell ourselves that things are “good enough” and that things will get better. “Raising (young) kids is hard” so we are able to convince ourselves that it’s just a phase. It’s not that it’s not true, but we don’t want to wake up 18 years later and discover it was never “just a phase”.
We tell ourselves we aren’t that unhappy. We suppress our feelings. And it seems like the easier path.
But at some point, we realize that we’re deluding ourselves. And we realize that the easy path is not getting us what we desire.
When we show up more vulnerably, admitting that we aren’t happy, we begin to see that we aren’t alone – and feeling less alone is a small step towards feeling better.
At some point, we have to admit where we really ARE so we can start to do what it takes to be where we want to BE.
4- Stop looking for happiness in the wrong places
We look outside of ourselves for happiness – buying stuff, self-medicating, fantasizing, eating, etc. But it’s not there.
When we have a good day, we feel “happy” and when we have a bad day, we feel “low” or “down”.
When we aren’t happy, we wonder – do I need to go back to work? do I need to quit my job? maybe things would be better if we moved…
We blame our life circumstances, experiences, and people for our unhappiness.
Deep down we know it’s not true – that we are in control of our happiness.
But where do we find this thing called happiness?
It’s inside of you, right now. Finding happiness is an inside job. Nothing you buy, no one you marry, no kids or trips or drugs will give you true, sustainable happiness. Only you can find it.
So, not a shocker, right? If you have read Oprah magazine or watched OWN, I’ll bet you saw at least one article or show saying something similar.
But you keep looking outside of yourself because we’ve never been taught another way.
Happiness is an inside job.
Search inward for the unexpected path to healing and true happiness.
So what can you do to start today?
- Slow down your pace. If you find yourself needing to respond to all of the needs of others and are caught up in the crisis of the moment, notice that. See where you can free up some space in your day. Remember to take a few deeper breaths throughout the day. Start to say no more often.
- Take care of yourself. You matter and in fact, you are the hub of your family. I know you believe that because that is why you think you need to keep it all together and respond to all of the needs of others. But there is a paradox in all of this – without you stepping away from all that you believe you need to carry on your shoulders, you cannot continue to carry it. Your kids need a mom who is taking care of herself and her inner world. They need a mom who has the energy and presence to really and truly be there for them physically and emotionally.
- Feel the feels. Allow yourself to feel your feelings fully – when you suppress them, they get stuck and stay with you. Next time you feel sad, go into the sadness and feel it. Feelings are like waves, they come and then they go. Trust that to be true. NOTE: you don’t have to verbalize your feelings to feel them – try feeling them in your body.
- Start a gratitude journal. Begin to write down that which you are grateful for. Do it for a week and notice if anything changes in your life. Download my free gratitude journal right now if you’d like!
If you’re curious about how to find true happiness, schedule a call to chat with me.
And please post below if you any questions or want to share your experience. I know not everyone can relate to this, perhaps you’re the one with the “bigger problems” that we compare to. Please share, we are all in this together and all of us just want to feel connected, loved, and alive.