I’ve been at my most miserable when my life is out of whack. Work-life balance, miserable relationship-rest of life balance, worrying about what everyone else wants (family, friends, strangers, colleagues etc) or what they think of me – rest of life balance including what I think of myself, and even all at the same time, which was when my health hit rock bottom. When so much of your energy, emotion and esteem is taken up by one or even a number of things, It becomes like a vicious cycle with good patches and then back on the hamster wheel.
When your life is out of whack, your fears, unhealthy beliefs, doubts, insecurities, and habits, plus at times, shady/draining people – lead weights – end up eclipsing your ability to be happy and get the most out of your life. You get overtaken by it, you may become convinced that when the imbalance takes care of itself, that you will feel better, but may not recognise that you will have to be an active part of taking care of that balance.
You convince yourself that these ‘life suckers’ are super-important because if for instance, you finally turn around a relationship situation that’s making you miserable, you reason that you’ll be happy, or at least happier.
You may be devoting your life to extricating yourself out of a relationship but battling with your own feelings (and theirs) and putting so much energy into trying to avoid contact, dealing with your super-busy ruminating, if not damn near obsessing mind, that next thing you look up and months or even a year or so has gone by. The seasons have done their cycle, you’ve not quite realised how much has been going on in your family and friends lives, and your hobbies, interests and aspirations have nosedived while you’ve been ‘firefighting’. When it feels like you haven’t got much of you left, it can seem all the more important to put your energy on the breakup.
The job and the career are super-important because it might be a difficult job market, you may feel that it’s too late to start somewhere else or ‘too hard’, your esteem may be very tied up in your job performance or how you’re perceived by your colleagues, you may have busted your tail to study for this career and even if it’s not what you want anymore, you don’t feel like you could leave or retrain.
It may be that your value is very much tied to what ‘everyone’ appears to think of you (which incidentally may be your skewed perception), or how much you give and do in the hope of getting some love back. If you’re experiencing a lot of drama and dissatisfaction, it’s not too great a leap for you to make the misguided assumption that the universe is sending you a message that something is ‘wrong’ with you, which in turn will cause you to seek more validation.
Relying on your colleagues to change, for work to let up, to hopefully be noticed by the ‘right’ people, for the miserable relationship to become less miserable by you developing a ‘thicker skin’ (read compromising, ignoring, and even abusing yourself) and / or waiting for the other party to change or ‘release’ you out of the relationship, isn’t going to do much for your happiness.
Neither is hoping that one day you’ll spontaneously combust into someone who doesn’t overvalue the opinions of others to the detriment of yourself or that ‘everyone’ will validate you and that you’ll have an ‘opening’ to do something for yourself when you’re not being the Patron Saint Of Giving and Doing with a Ph.D in fixing/healing/helping and analysing the crappola out of people.
Something has to give.
, do you know what we’ll choose to ‘give’ on? The side where we’re already greatly compromised – it can seem easier to focus on the side that’s creating the imbalance because we lose confidence in our abilities to take care of ourselves. Low self-esteem, for example, will always ensure that if you have a choice between relying on external forces outside of your control, or you, shazam, you’ll go for the former.
If you don’t value or trust you, or it’s just a ‘simple’ case of you seeing these super-important things as an extension of you, you’ll choose what you attribute greater weight to.
Having periods of imbalance is inevitable – the shorter the better – but once it stretches into medium to long-term territory, it can feel like your back’s against the wall and that there are too many things in the way of reclaiming your life. You may feel helpless because you’ve felt unhappy for so long or that you appear to be powerless in your situation. It may feel like you have limited or even no options. It’ll seem like you’ve invested too much to ‘turn back’ now or to ‘throw it all away’.
One of the key things I’ve learned about life and happiness that always grounds me when I stray, is that treating yourself with love, care, trust, and respect, having boundaries, listening to yourself, taking time out, pausing to take in what’s around you, spending a good chunk of your awake time in the present, not being so quick to blame yourself, saying NO and not crapping yourself about it or feeling guilty, facing conflict, speaking up for yourself, meeting your own aspirations and living your life authentically, are habits.
For some, it comes naturally, but most of us have to feel the pain of life throwing us the same lessons until we heed the message, getting uncomfortable and out of our uncomfortable comfort zones, and plugging away until we learn the new habits.
Listen to the feedback from your life.
I’ve said this to many people – you’d be amazed at how the desire to remain in an unhealthy partnering shrinks when you put the focus (positively) on you and you begin addressing your own life and happiness independently of the person so that your confidence increases, as does your sense of worth. It gives you the strength to make more objective, self-love focused decisions and choices, instead of treading water, fire-fighting, and operating on fear.
No you’re probably not going to jack in your job tomorrow, but if you addressed where your frustrations with work were coming from as well as came up with ways to feel better in other areas of your life, you can get a more objective view to make changes to work or to find a way to be there without it owning you.
Is making these changes ‘easy’? NO, but I can tell you from personal experience that not working weekends, not obsessing about an email you may be missing, putting boundaries into practice with people who want too much of you, learning to breathe, look around and relax, and more importantly, knowing when to walk are easier than continuing with the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Whatever it is that you ‘give’, it shouldn’t involve you compromising yourself further, because it’s having great imbalances that creates a loss in your life in the first place. It’s not like when your time is up on earth, you’re going to say “Feck! I really wish I’d spent more time busting my tail in shady relationships.”
Work, relationships, family, friends, they’re all important components of our lives, but if you compromise yourself so greatly in these areas that you lose yourself, you miss out on you in the process and ultimately you’re the critical component in your own life. If you want to be happy, you’ve got to know which lead weight habits, thinking, fears, and even people to drop or minimise in your life – what you should never drop is you.