"I love my life, so why do I feel like this?"
This query is verbalised by a few, but is felt by thousands. I hear it in conversations and see it in the body language of women every day.
They're in good relationships, their children are healthy, they have a roof over their head and food on the table. Women list the 'reasons' they should be happy, in turn, making themselves feel worse, and the cycle of feeling bad continues. This cycle is one of the reasons women aren't happy.
Sometimes consciously but often unaware, women have created expectations for themselves. Goal setting, striving, standards and pride can be beneficial strategies that aid personal growth. They can also fuel enthusiasm and motivation, so forward planning and having goals is a good thing. Expectations become a problem when the opportunity for achieving them is slim to none. That is, when women set the bar of success so high, their chance of achieving these intentions are limited, or if possible in the short-term, might not be ongoingly sustainable.
Sound familiar? We're friends, so let's be honest: when was the last time you checked off everything on your to-do list, AND pretend on your to-do list, you had written tasks like connection and self-care. Women may be feeling 'successful' when their house is organised or they're up-to-date with study & work, but the niggling feeling of unhappiness remains. Feeling on top of your workload plays a major role in easing stress, but it alone can't create happiness. Happiness is an inside job and one reflective only of YOU. What makes your soul come alive is more than likely different from your neighbour, family or friends.
Here's your challenge: if you're a champion at 'tasks' begin to add to-do's that align with your values, that is, things that matter to you. This could be adventure, writing, cooking, personal reflection, quality time with loved ones so on and so forth. Intentionally adding time to put your personal values into action is what we refer to as Live It, step 3 of the Developing Dreams signature coaching program, EMPOWERED. It's all well and good to know what you believe in and yearn for, but until it's applied to your days, you'll feel a sad longing that somethings not right.
As these expectations you've placed on yourself fall by the wayside - think meetings not written up, piles of washing increasing, notes not signed and lunchboxes scraped together with the last remnants of the pantry - the negative self-talk begins. Women are ever-so-quick to berate themselves for the slightest error, lack-of-judgement or unfulfilled task. Societal expectations are often blamed for this, but in reality, we get to choose our limits, boundaries and our responses. Unfortunately, women are often choosing to put themselves down instead of extending compassion, the antedote necessary to heal feelings of failing, not being good enough or stress.
If negative self-talk is your bad-guy (ahhh, hello, you're human so likely it is), commit to discovering what your internal dialogue defaults to. Make it fun and give your internal alter-ego a name if you like! Next, listen out for her snarky put-downs because this is where the magic will lie. We each have different 'stories' we've been living with and these stories are our negative self-image we've carried for TOO MANY YEARS! They're often embedded heavily in our psyche and our cells, so removing them takes effort. Repeated effort.
Your goal is to find out what your inner voice's go-to is. Personally, my internal battle has been being 'stupid'. Every time I'd make a mistake, let someone down or forget something, right away my nasty internal voice would berate me, sometimes for days, weeks, months and even years! That's NOT inspiring, nor supportive I'm sure you agree. Other internal voices could be fat, incompetent, lazy, high need, a cry-baby or overbearing. Sadly, the list is endless for unkind identification women give themselves. Once you know the main put-down you hear, it's time to be ready for it, to catch it and then importantly, re-frame it. Your mind is powerful, beautiful person, and you can do this!
Lack of Support
This is a tricky one, so hear me out. I HOPE, with a capital H.O.P.E you have support of some-kind, somehow. Whether that be in the form of a friend, family member, community or therapist. If you do, I encourage you to reach out, to foster these relationships and importantly, to accept offers that come your way. Honest-to-goodness, you've got nothing to prove by doing things on your own! Which circles back to the previous point: if you're telling yourself you can't ask for help, you should be able to do this on your own, or any other form of non-acceptance of how you're REALLY feeling, you're applying negative and unresourceful self-talk. And that doesn't serve you. Please for the love all things good in the world, remind yourself: humans need humans. We're not islands and are not meant to do life alone. Connection within communities and particularly among women is vital if we are to live (and raise children to be) emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually capable. Ok, rant over, let's continue ;-)
Second to this point is the answer for the person saying, 'but Catherine, I really DON'T have anyone to support me. I AM on my own'. If this is you, email me! I'm more than happy to welcome you to the Community Of Dreams. Secondly, you have everything inside you, to be your greatest supporter. It's true! If you're needing support but don't know where to begin, start with your fingers. Jump onto Google where anything you want to know or get better at is available for free. Take stock of the reality of your days, create a compelling future and get to work creating systems that SUPPORT you by accessing inspiration and strategies. This might include de-cluttering the house, food-prepping on a Sunday, joining an empowerment group, learning how to control your emotions, parenting tips, outsourcing tasks or any other number of options. Email me and tell me what one step you're going to take to support YOU.
I trust you can now see which of these areas are preventing your happiness, but let's take it a step further. Happiness isn't all you're seeking, is it? You're an intelligent and capable woman. You know life is isn't just butterflies and rainbows. A meaningful life will include ups and downs, so no, happiness isn't what you're searching for.
With that thought, I offer you this: what ARE the emotions you're missing? When you discover these missing feelings, you'll see the correlation to why you experience frustration, loneliness, emptiness, unease, sadness or whatever emotion is rearing it's head most often in your days.
When women aren't feeling happy ongoingly, it's a sure-fire sign their soul is yearning for more. When I say more, I'm not referring to bigger houses or more 'things'. Your body is urging you to listen. To slow down and listen. What is it you're missing? Could it be connection, to feel valued, to contribute, to belong? Find the truth in yourself and trust it to lead you to your happy place.