“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
~C. JoyBell C.
Do you have the courage to be fully human?
To me it boils down to this: being vulnerable enough to allow your emotions to rise up and flow through you unchecked, without hindrance, without judgment. Inconceivable joy. Devastating sadness. Raging anger. Unmitigated self-judgement. Burning guilt. The entire spectrum of emotions. There is no hierarchy. No one is better than the other. Each are powerful. Each of them teach essential lessons if we are willing to listen.
We get into trouble when we impede this flow and ignore the lessons. Because we are afraid of the change these lessons will bring, we reign in our emotions. We stuff them down and ignore them. We become energetically constipated and slow the vibrational possibility that is always calling us into more. We turn away from the light and reject our best selves.
It happens to all of us. This ignored energy creates a vortex of negativity that cements our victim-hood in place and this deep level of unhappiness becomes comfortable because it’s familiar.
There are times in my life when sorrow appropriately suffused my being. Losing my father unexpectedly. Chronic infertility. An adoption that fell through on the day we were to bring our daughter home. Coming home and finding my ex had moved out after 20 years of marriage. I cradled these sorrows to me like a toddler refusing to surrender a favorite blanket. And yet years would go by and I was still the wounded, suffering victim. Unable to understand why I couldn’t “catch” happiness. And on those rare days when happiness would arrive, I could never hang on to it.
The truth was, I didn’t want to hang onto it. I didn’t realize that I was too invested in my own sob story to see that I was keeping my own chronic unhappiness hostage. I was continually feeding myself the evidence that I needed to keep these stories of victimhood, unhappiness and, most importantly, blame in place. At the deepest level, for the majority of my life, I didn’t believe I deserved to be happy.
If you know my story, you know that after years of this behavior, I had a life changing revelation. I was finally able to stop and get in touch with the silence of my soul. This extended time-out taught me that you and I can be empowered to meet life with a changed, grateful and positive perspective! You can learn more about how I achieved this in my article 5 Steps to Beginning Again.
Being fully human is something I work at every day. It’s become a practice and a ritual. It’s something we can all soften into, indeed it’s critically important if we are to live our most courageous and authentic lives.
So with that in mind, here is a list of the eight habits that I refused to give up in order to keep my chronic unhappiness in place. Read these with an open heart and an open mind and perhaps you will catch a glimpse of some of the ways that you too are keeping yourself in a life that is denying your most authentic possibilities.
1. You get stuck in your story.
When something bad happens in life, you get stopped dead in your tracks. Like a skipping record, it’s impossible to move on, or move past. You simply play the same notes, over and over. Instead of working out what went wrong, or why, you play the blame game. It’s always someone else’s fault. It has to be, because otherwise you might begin to see your own culpability. And to do that would also mean that you have to take responsibility for your own poor emotional habits.
2. When life hands you lemons, you can’t get over the fact that life handed you lemons.
Instead of attempting to find the positive in a negative situation, you dwell on the negative, asking, “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why again?” Rather than focus on what you could be doing to make your own life better, you choose to focus on the negative situation that you may have no control over. Again, focusing on the situation instead of the solution means that you are absolved of all liability when it comes to your lack of happiness.
3. You fear nearly everything, nearly all the time.
You are afraid of failure, and afraid of success at the same time. You are deeply afraid of change in your life. Stasis is your best friend. You let the fear of the unknown paralyze you and you stop growing.
It may not even occur to you to work through the fear into the place where personal growth happens. In fact, personal growth likely isn’t even a goal in your life. Rather than have hard conversations with yourself, you focus on false comforts and addictions instead of exploring the boundaries of your own comfort zone. The goal is not to grow into happiness but to find every means possible to remain inert and mired in a cycle of chronic unhappiness.
4. There is always a reason why not.
Every positive suggestion you entertain, every positive suggestion you receive ends in a “but”. You are unwilling to actively do anything about a situation that you are unhappy with, so you focus solely on why the situation can’t possibly be changed for the better. Deep inside, you are addicted to your own uncomfortable comfort zone, (which in my case was misery), and, as a result, are unwilling to move outside it.
5. You believe there is nothing better.
Whether it is an unhappy relationship, financial challenges, health problems or a miserable job situation, you don’t believe that you can have anything than what you’re currently experiencing. You avoid the discomfort of changing your situation by simply believing that what you have is okay (you might even have convinced yourself that you deserve it) and that you must just suffer through it.
6. You allow, and may even embrace, negative people.
“Misery loves company” and that saying couldn’t be more true than to the truly unhappy. Surrounding yourself with negative people, or with people who aren’t invested in your happiness, means that you are never challenged. The negative love complaining.
They need to judge others as less than in order to get a false sense of more. Lamenting a self-induced or self-created unhappy situation cements its reality and permanently fixes the status quo. Having people around that are willing to revel in and return this negativity reinforces all of these behaviors as normal. If everything you see externally conforms to your inner reality, there is absolutely no motive to adopt positive change. It is easy for a blind fish in a cave, surrounded by other blind fish, to deny the existence or even the possibility of light.
7. You use distractions to avoid feeling anything emotionally painful.
Instead of actively working through uncomfortable feelings and moving towards a better outcome, you completely tune out of life by distracting yourself. You may fill the hole that you feel inside with material objects, chemicals or behaviors. Staying shallow is staying safe, so you stay as far away from introspection as possible. One common behavior is staying on your PC, phone, or tablet. You use electronics to self-medicate, to numb out pain, and to avoid feeling those things that you may need to feel to make a better life for yourself. If you log off, you may have to think, and if you think, it may get deep. If it gets deep, it will probably get painful, so you stay plugged in, and tuned out.
8. You lack gratitude.
You refuse to look at the good you have in your life, rather, you concentrate on what you don’t have, what you can’t do, or what you are missing. You are incapable of seeing the beauty that is naturally yours and naturally a part of the larger world around you.
Here is what I know for sure: The world is literally what you make of it. There is beauty in the smallest of flowers, yet flowers also grow on battlefields and on dung heaps. The light of dawn brings clarity and renews everything that it touches, but it shines equally on slums and factories, as well as forests and gardens. The world is not either good or bad, it is both. Each of us has both darkness and light within us. What matters, in fact the only thing that matters, is which one we follow, which one we believe as our own truth.
Every day, you are faced with a simple choice.
You can choose the light or you can reject it. Rejecting the light doesn’t mean that the light has dimmed. Far from it. The light is still there illuminating forests and factories alike. Beauty is still there growing in both gardens and in garbage. Your rejection of that truth serves only one purpose – to keep you in the darkness, in the denial of the light, distanced from your own peace and joy for one more day.
The world is not either good or bad, it is both. Each of us has both darkness and light within us. The only thing that matters, is which one we believe as our own truth.
The road to the light begins with the simple act of recognizing that light exists. Nothing more and nothing less. Seeing the light makes it easier to choose the light. Choosing the light makes it harder to ever accept the darkness again. Rejecting the darkness allows you to begin to glimpse the beauty without and within and to start to feel grateful for the opportunity that beauty represents.