A Vicious Cycle
Recently, I found myself SERIOUSLY struggling to feel happy. And ya know what? IT’S BECAUSE I WASN’T HAPPY. Shocker, right?
At first, I couldn’t really put my finger on it and didn’t understand what my problem was. We had recently bought a home worthy of a Pinterest dream house board, I started a new job I absolutely loved, our children were happy, healthy, and damn good kids, and still… I wasn’t happy. What an ungrateful brat, right?
Then came the guilt — mom guilt, wife guilt, being a bummer-of-a-human guilt. On top of feeling unhappy and not knowing why, I was now beating myself up for being unhappy. It was a nasty and vicious cycle.
What’s even worse is I then began trying to figure it all out in the way of blaming, pointing the finger, and wallowing in self-pity. For me, that looked like nagging on my husband EVERY DAY, sleeping to hide my unhappiness, avoiding friends and loved ones so they wouldn’t know I was such a mess, and crying… A LOT.
The thing is, I wasn’t hiding it. My husband was already WELL aware of how unhappy I was because I told him every chance I got (10/10 don’t recommend this).
My friends and family were also starting to notice and for the first time in my life, I didn’t answer the question, “How are you?” with the typical response of “Good!” Instead, I dumped my problems onto them and waited for the advice I knew they’d give.
It wasn’t until I was no longer able to hide excuses of, “I’m just tired,” or “I dunno, I think it’s hormones,” that I was left with no choice but to get my sh*t together and stop waiting for someone or something to MAKE me happy. It wasn’t going to happen.
Not willing to accept this as my new normal or wait for happiness to just HAPPEN to me, I started being honest with myself and others and decided to depend on the only person that could truly control my happiness… ME.
So, here we are, you recognize you are unhappy and you are ultimately the only person who can change that. Now what?
Tip 1: Be Honest
I cannot stress this one enough. There’s a saying in the military community: “Embrace the Suck.” While this survival technique comes in handy for military members and their loved ones, I 100% do not recommend it for everyday life. Do not embrace this suck. Do not succumb to unhappiness and DO NOT ACCEPT IT AS YOUR NEW NORMAL.
Be honest. First and foremost, be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. You are human and you do not have to hide the fact that right now, you are not your typical happy self.
Once you are able to be honest with yourself, be honest with those who truly know and care. Carrying the burden alone might only increase your feelings of unhappiness, and although it isn’t their job to “fix” you, it’s never a bad idea to have people rooting for and supporting you.
Tip 2: Take Control
Once you recognize you are unhappy and it’s time for a change, decide what exactly you can change. All too often, I see people struggling with these feelings for years, and although they admit to being unhappy, they fail to make any REAL changes.
If you have to, make a list of all the things you are unhappy with and then make some choices on which of those things you can change first. It may not change immediately or even overnight, but if you do not make a conscious effort to change whatever it is that is making you unhappy, you can expect to feel this way for a LONG time, if not forever. Not fun.
Tip 3: Make Time For Self Care
Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Put on some perfume. Maybe even throw on a pair of false eyelashes — those always have a way of making me feel like a million bucks, even when I feel like a miserable brat on the inside.
Whatever self care means to you, DO IT!
Tip 4: Reach Out
Although it is nobody else’s job to “fix” you, some people are just great advice-givers. I have been seriously blessed with some amazing and brutally honest advice-givers in my life, and find that admitting to them the honesty of how crappy I feel sometimes helps lift the burden of having to pretend.
As much as you want to, resist the urge to “build a wall” or isolate yourself from people. Go out, talk to friends, make new friends; whatever it takes to continue building your little tribe. As humans, we are not meant to do life alone.
Tip 5: Give Yourself Grace
I will leave you with this — give yourself grace and recognize it’s okay to have bad days. As you know, life is not always sunshine and rainbows and heated indoor pools, and that is OKAY.
The best thing you can do when you feel yourself slipping is to check in with yourself, decide what you have the power to control, and then either do something about it or let it go.
Now, go forth into this thing called life and take back your happiness. Also, share the heck out of this if you found it to be helpful. You never know who else may need to stumble upon it at exactly the right time.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emmy Bennett from Oakdale, California. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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