Advice Column: If everything is so great, why am I unhappy?

Advice Column: If everything is so great, why am I unhappy?

Question:

My birthday is next week – the same week that I’m going to be finishing my law degree. I’m told I am at the best possible place anyone could be in life. I am standing on the cusp of completing this huge milestone, which I loved every minute of, and have a great job waiting for me as I cross into my career.

I have had the opportunity to travel the world (and am doing so as we speak), to be educated, to be free. I present myself as a confident, attractive and intelligent woman. I have a family who loves me dearly and supportive friends.

So why do I feel so dissatisfied and afraid of the decisions I’ve made? Why am I so terrified of everything that lies ahead? And why am I feeling so lonely? As a caveat, I am fairly certain that it’s not that I’ve made some wrong decision. It’s more like of every decision would have felt wrong. Everything I don’t have is more important than everything I do. Why?

Answer:

First I’d like to say that I personally, don’t think you are at the best place in your life. I think that you are at a very scary and unknown place, and so, I’m not surprised that you are feeling afraid and dissatisfied. You have dedicated many years to this moment, and I assume have spent many thousands of dollars investing in this future. And it all hangs on this moment, doesn’t it? Will this life that you have chosen for yourself be everything that you expect/wish/hope it would be?

That is a big question, and here is a bigger one – What would it mean to you, personally if this path was not what you had hoped it would be? What would it mean to your loving family, and supportive friends, and how would their impressions impact you?

Here is another way to get to the bottom of it – As you envision your future, what body sensations are you noticing coming up inside your body? Do you feel a heaviness in your chest? A sense of panic in your gut? Observe these sensations gently – they are your biggest clues into what is really going on for you.

Once you have accessed what you are most afraid of, ask yourself – Is it as bad as I make it? Is it black-or-white, or is there a grey area here? If there is a grey area – what is it? Perhaps the grey is that this job is not THE job, but rather A job on your way to exploring and defining your area of expertise (which may have not shown itself as of yet). Or perhaps the grey is that as a person, you always continue to learn and so, this next step is just one of many opportunities for you to grow and evolve – an opportunity that is full of successes AND failures. And maybe the grey is that this career path that you have chosen will not fulfill you on its own. Perhaps you will need to explore additional passions and endeavours to reach full satisfaction in life – what would that be like?

The reason that we often feel dissatisfied once we have reached our goals is because those are the times when it becomes clear to us that we are more than the roles that we play in life.

We often go through life under the false assumption that these roles ARE us, as opposed to something we DO, or SHOW to the world. We became so attached to these descriptions of ourselves (and the people around us become attached to them as well) that we spend our whole lives trying to succeed in these roles, but once we succeed and we still don’t feel the relief we expected to feel, it gets confusing. So we think that maybe we need to succeed even more – more money, more degrees, more recognition – but once we achieve all of that, we find ourselves even more dissatisfied.

What would it be like if this career wasn’t the YOU that is front and centre in the world? What would it be like to present yourself as someone other than the “confident, attractive, and intelligent” lawyer woman? Would you be good enough as a human being if you were stripped of those descriptors? Whatever fear you feel when you take off that suit of armour (of a confident, attractive, intelligent professional woman) is your deepest wound – it’s what you carry with you no matter how successful you become.

Connecting with, and releasing your deepest wound:

1. Sit comfortably, take a few deep belly breaths until you feel yourself relaxing.

2. Let the last exhale lead you to the place in your body where you feel your deepest wound (the one you discover when you take off all of the descriptors you have worked so hard to build and perfect).

3. What word or couple of words describe the wound just right?

4. Imagine yourself drawing a line around it, so you know where it begins and where it ends.

5. Look at it gently as if it was a hurt animal. Ask it “What’s wrong?”, and notice what it says.

6. Ask it: “What do you need?”, and notice what it says.

7. Ask it “How can I help?”, and notice what it says.

8. Notice the shift inside your body.

9. Breathe WISDOM and COMPASSION into it.

10. When you feel done, pat yourself on the back. You are now one step closer to being truly happy.

Finally here are a few more questions to ask yourself:

1. What is missing from my life right now? How does my deepest wound/fear impact that which is missing from my life?

2. What would need to change in my attitudes or responses for me to function at my best in the midst of this, even if the circumstances don’t change?

3. What am I tolerating in my life? What am I putting up with that maybe I haven’t even thought about taking action on until now?

4. How well does the way I spend my time and energy align with my heart? What is one thing I can do to align these better?

One last thing: as you look around and think about how happy and fulfilled everyone else is, try to remember that everyone suffers, questions, and doubts their choices in life, especially in times of transition.

Take care, and happy birthday! :)

Tami

Tamar (Tami) Amit, M.A. RCC

About Tamar (Tami) Amit, M.A. RCC