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A Life Worth Living

Stop Being Miserable! Self Help to Recovery

By 17th November 2022 No Comments
Stop being miserable
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With so many self-help articles, books and videos out there, you might be wondering why I took the time and energy to write this. Allow me to explain. I wrote this article because we all need reminders and advice – reflecting and communication are essentially what differentiates us from the animals, and simply put, is why we are here now. We learned to survive and move forward as a species by learning from one another. We share stories, opinions, values, facts and experiences that can help us survive and give us the instruments to overcome obstacles and depression and achieve great things.

Of course, there is very little under the sun that is new – so admittedly, what I will discuss in this article has been said before, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be repeated. Sometimes you resonate with how the message is articulated and delivered – which could make all the difference in your life, goals and well-being.

Understand why you’re really feeling miserable

 

Feeling down or miserable can be a horrible and dark place; believe me, I know… I’ve walked down that road many times. And that’s precisely why it’s crucial to recognise, understand and accept what is causing it. Not understanding why you’re feeling miserable is the same as not identifying an underlying illness – you will put out fires but will be unable to stop them from igniting.

Many years ago, I worked with a guy called Allen. A middle-aged man who constantly complained about everything. And everything, whether it was big or small, would infuriate him to the extent that he would frequently argue with people. He seemed miserable. And at first glance, it appeared as if he just hated his job, which was causing all his anger but after a long conversation with him and allowing him to question himself, it became clear that he didn’t hate his job at all. In fact, he loved his job, but he was having trouble with his partner, and they were on the brink of separation.

The trouble Allen was having at home was the root cause of his misery, and he didn’t know how to deal with it. It was much easier to blame it on things he could control or were less sensitive. He took his frustrations out on the people around him, losing many friends in the process. It was destructive. And deep down, he knew it. But until he identified it, understood it and accepted it, there was no way to deal with it. And pushing the people around him away was not helping.

Don’t allow one aspect of your life to define you as a whole

 

The difficulties Allen faced, as traumatic as they were, impacted every part of his life. His work, his relationships, his goals and aspirations and his health. This was largely because he allowed this part of his life to be the most important and failed to view his life, or even himself, holistically. He failed to understand that he was an individual before he met his partner – a person who had his own life independent of anyone else. He also found it hard to accept that he could not control if his partner chose to leave him, and he had forgotten his self-worth. He had concluded that his partner was the better half and the most valuable half. And without her, he was nothing.

It took him a while to accept that he could not control most things in his life. He couldn’t control other people, the world around him or even his health. He couldn’t control or stop himself from ageing, losing his hair or his teeth. He needed to accept that losing is a part of life.

However, he also needed to recognise that what he could control was how he felt.

Of course, his partner leaving him would impact how he felt. That is part of what makes us human, but to allow how he felt determine how he was as a person or how he behaved towards other people would only lead to more misery.

Allen had to learn how to compartmentalise his thoughts and feelings. For example, when he was at work, there was nothing he could do about his problems at home. He needed to focus on what was in front of him. And this would be the same the other way around; if he was stressed about something at work, it would need to be compartmentalised, so it didn’t affect his life outside of work. This would help prevent unnecessary and unjustified confrontations.

Make conscious choices and decisions

 

Although Allen now accepted that most things in his life were out of his control and he would inevitably suffer losses, it didn’t mean he could be a passive observer. He had to take responsibility for his choices, and he needed to make the right decisions. Decisions that are not based solely on emotions.

He had to decide whether the problems he was facing in his relationship with his partner were bad enough for them to separate. He needed to determine whether their relationship was worth fighting for or whether their relationship would lead him to more misery and ill health. After all this was determined, he needed to take the practical steps to do something about it.

Don’t just stand there! Do something!

 

Allen valued his relationship highly and decided to find ways to consolidate with his partner. That was when he realised he was having the same problems in their relationship as he was having in the other aspects of his life. He wasn’t addressing the underlying issue in their relationship, and they were fighting about all the surface problems.

Allen and his partner desperately wanted a family but could not have children. And although they never argued or fought about this, it was the root cause of all the fires they desperately put out.

Now was the time to take action. This wasn’t about being unhappy at work. It wasn’t about problems in the relationship but the value of having a family.

Allen needed to make a choice. A choice that would change all the other problems he was having in his life. He needed to have an honest conversation with his partner, and they both needed to decide what they would do next. They could keep trying to have children or get medical help, they could part ways and find what they were looking for elsewhere, or they could stay together and accept that they would never be parents.

I never said it would be an easy choice! But a choice needed to be made. Sitting on the fence meant always putting out fires: more misery and negative impacts on their relationship and lives.

In all the scenarios, whether they kept trying for a family, parted or accepted that they would never have their ideal family setup, they could find happiness and contentment – it is all about perspectives and acceptance.

Embrace your emotions but be rational

 

Getting overly emotional can often hinder the rational part of your brain from making the best decision. This is not easy to control as it is embedded deep within us. But what happens when you do control it? What happens when you don’t allow your emotions to dictate your next move? You take charge of the ship and steer it away from the iceberg.

It can be terrifying. Your brain will do everything in its power to keep you safe, to stop you from feeling the emotional pain of making the wrong decision. This might hinder you from doing anything at all. But remember doing nothing is also a decision, and it could be the worst one you ever make.

This is where facing the problem head-on comes into play. This is where you exploit the courage inside you to make a change for the better.

You might be wondering what happened to Allen – what he decided and what the outcome was.

You’ll be relieved that Allen valued his relationship enough to have that difficult yet honest conversation with his partner. After much debate, they both decided to remain together and keep trying. Even if the medical interventions didn’t help, they would never give up – not on their hope to one day have a family and not on their relationship. And they also agreed that they would accept that whatever the outcome, they would not allow it to cause fires and allow their emotions to control them.

I desperately fought not to write that they went on to live happily ever after because it would be a lie – because life is not about happily ever afters. Living is an experience, and in this experience, there are many hurdles, failures, and losses. However, I can say that Allen learned new skills to help him deal with what lay ahead of him, and so can you. All it takes is understanding the root causes of your problems and then the courage to face them head-on.

This isn’t to say that you must fight everything! On the contrary, you must pick your battles wisely, and you won’t always get them right. Mistakes will be made, and how you deal with them will make all the difference.

Be honest with yourself. Be fair to yourself. Be good to yourself.


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