What if you need to make a change? One that’s terrible, horrible, no good, etc?
Maybe the change is something that scares you so much you start hyperventilating just thinking about getting ready to do it.
Or, it’s such a terrible and horrible change that you can’t even think about it. You utterly and completely pretend that all is well.
No, no; everything’s fine. I’m good. But enough about me … how’re you?
- Job unsatisfying?
- Relationship gone south?
- Personal finances a hot mess?
- Eating/drinking/shopping over the top?
- What yummy, delicious, soul-satisfying sex?!
Those times can feel brutal, whether or not we’re consciously acknowledging what’s going on.
And happiness is definitely not on the To-Do list. Who’s got time for it, for heaven’s sakes?!! Get out of my way, I’ve got things to do, you idiot. I AM happy!
There’s a way in which putting happiness on your To-Do list can be life-changing. I’m talking real deep true happiness, not the I’ll have another drink or a (big) cupcake or that guy I met on Tinder last weekend kind.
Jane and Her Magical-Thinking Machine
Let’s take a peek into Jane’s story. Super-smart, accomplished, Jane looked terrific from the outside. She wore good clothes, showed up for her good-sounding career, had good friends.
What no one knew was that her personal finances were in a state of chaos. She wasn’t earning enough money to pay for necessities. The credit cards started getting used for basics, like groceries and gas.
I’m OK. I can do this. It’s only temporary, something’s gonna change. This week.
She tried cutting her living expenses to the bare white bone: hardly ever bought a cup of coffee outside the house, had no health insurance, stopped seeing a dentist, bought no new clothes — nada.
Jane amped up her networking game, started a website, hustled in the marketing game as best she knew how to hustle. The changes she’d made were good ones.
And, in her opinion, she’d done enough to turn things around. She’d cranked up her magical-thinking machine.
I’m smart. I know how to do this. I just need to work a little harder. This time is like all the other ones — it’s bad right now, but I’ll push on through.
Two, three, four years went by. She got more and more discouraged. Those clothes she wore all the time? Getting a little shabby around the edges.
One day, a friend gently poked her in the belly, and said, “You’ve lost your muchness!”
She was tired. She knew it. But she didn’t know what to do about it. Her usual bag of tricks wasn’t working any more.
More desperate each month, Jane clutched harder and harder onto ideas, beliefs, choices that were, in reality, suffocating her. Jane started getting a little brittle on the inside.
Her courage, her strength, her smarts … her stubborn attachment to her own little ideas about how the world worked?
They’d become traps, keeping her stuck, wrenching her out of alignment with the actual facts. She spent too much denying how she felt, pretending she was OK.
All the while, little pieces of her were drying up inside. She had lost her muchness.
It never occurred to her to think about being happy. She was too desperate, too scared, too busy hiding from everyone. She thought it was all about doing more, doing this or that, doing better, doing it right this time.
Her stories about how things were supposed to work became her biggest enemies.
Believe me, by the time I started coaching Jane, she was danged unhappy.
What She Did Wrong
Jane thought she’d been a pretty good girl. Now the universe will be kind and start throwing money my way. All of this has been a terrible mistake. (And gosh, she needed a new pair of shoes!)
She waited at least 2-3 years too long to slow down enough to acknowledge the facts. She was making decisions from old ideas about how the world works, when the world kept rushing right on by, leaving nothing but high-desert dust swirling around her.
I’m OK. This is OK. There’s nothing wrong here. I’m not feeling like a crazy maniac, desperately running in circles — going nowhere — while the monsters in the forest are getting closer and closer.
What monsters?! I don’t hear any monsters.
What She Did Right
- Stopped running from herself and the truth.
- Asked for help, from a professional (that would be me).
- Learned some mindfulness techniques.
- Was able to admit the truth.
- Committed to making the changes she had to make in order to turn things around.
- Started re-defining her life values. What matters? How do I want to feel? What do I need to be happy, satisfied, content?
- Took on her own monsters, doing the deep transformational work of re-framing shame, increasing self-esteem, owning her own personal power, and acting with more self-confidence.
Jane hung in with her own personal growth until big changes started happening. She started feeling better, every week. Each day.
When the day, or sometimes a whole week, was crummy, she didn’t crumble. She had all sorts of new ways of dealing. So she dealt.
She got straight about her relationship with money, cleaned up what needed cleaning up, put on her big-girl pants and took on her internal fear-based monsters … slaying them one by one.
She started earning more income. Got creative about other sources of money … emptied her storage unit, sold a bunch of stuff she’d forgotten about, cleared out ancient crap that’d been trying to drag her under the surface.
She was happier. Way happier. Remembered where she’d put her muchness.
Yes, Jane bought herself a fabulous new pair of shoes, paid for in cash.
Happiness To-Do List
- Stop running from the truth.
- Get some help … professional is best.
- Start learning about mindfulness. Go to www.tarabrach.com, and listen to her free loving-kindness meditation. Keep doing it.
- Find a mindfulness meditation training in your area.
- Keep opening up to whatever is true. This is what allows you to make new changes, and start living from the happiness script you get to write for yourself.
- Continue defining your values, which help you create your own happiness story.
- Start making choices to support your values, and your new story.
- Begin living from happiness. Which sometimes means learning how to feel more of your feelings — especially the yucky ones. Then, you create even more space for happiness.
- Assess — honestly — how your social support feels right now. Are you heard, respected, held with compassion? Or are people trying to tell you what to do, give you another affirmation to change all the negative energy, or [fill in the blank]? Remember, most everyone else is living an old story. You’re blazing the path to your own!
- Make a commitment to yourself to start making teeny changes. Love those baby steps. Because teeny changes, over time, are what created the Grand Canyon.
- (Do some work with a trained professional. Jane would’ve saved thousands of dollars, bankruptcy, and tons of missed opportunities if she’d done this one sooner.)