HELP! I HATE MY LIFE
Every now and then, I receive a note from a reader or another writer who says, I hate my life. And that statement is typically followed by some version of I don’t know what to do. Help!
Reading these notes are heartbreaking, but in a sense, they’re encouraging, too. The writer of the note realizes that s/he is discontent and that in order to get content, s/he must act—must do something.
It’s not uncommon to have these feelings. We all experience trials and tough times. We also know those don’t last forever and we just have to get through them. But there are times when we get on the wrong (for us) path, and we sense it, feel it, know it. When on the wrong path, we can’t be content. My point is, it’s not uncommon to experience these times, to come to these realizations—that we’ll always hate our lives unless something changes.
For that reason, recognition is vital. Yet recognition is but a critical first step. We can recognize a challenge all day long, but nothing changes until and unless we change it.
On accepting that change is necessary, our first instinct isn’t to ask ourselves how to fix it. Our lives would be better if it were. No, our first instinct is generally to blame someone else for our discontent. Parents, children, boss—anyone will do. Anyone else, that is, or anything else. We embrace if only this or that and do all we can to avoid blaming ourselves. We’ll rationalize, excuse ourselves to Mars and back, and go to extreme lengths to find a way (just or unjust) to lay blame for our lousy lives at someone else’s feet. But here’s the thing. We can’t. Well, we can, but we have to lie to ourselves to do it, so we can’t.
A wise one once said, “If you condone it, you own it.”
Bluntly put, if we take the path of least resistance, deliberately avoid the discomfort of confrontation or conflict, let things slide because it’s easier and not because it’s right in our own eyes, then our actions or inactions created the results we now live with in our lives.
As adults, we are responsible for our own lives. The choices we make create the lives we live.
That’s good and bad news for us. If we don’t like our lives—indeed, if we hate our lives—then ultimately we’re to blame for creating the life we hate. We bear the blame and the scars and the burdens for it. That’s the bad news and fact.
Fortunately, because we do bear blame and those scars and burdens, we have the insight to grasp another critical fact. We can change. That’s the good news. We’re capable of change, able to foster change and to implement it to recreate our lives.
That’s the critical second step. Accepting blame and that we’re capable of change. But change how?
How. When that question arises is a crucial time. And our response is often to flounder. Why do we do that? Because figuring out how requires action. Implementing what we figure out requires action. And action is work. Hard work. Uncomfortable work. Essential work that all begins and ends with us.
Yet if we are sick and tired of being sick and tired of our lives, then we need to do something about it. We need to examine our lives and to determine why we hate it. What specific things about it do we hate? What specific things about our lives do we love? Wish for? Dream about? Yearn for?
Both hates and loves are equally important. If we get down to specifics and actually list the things in our lives that are the root causes of our discontent, then we can cull them. Some we just can’t cull, but we can take steps to make them less discomforting, less negative, and reduce their impact so that they’re more palatable.
As adults, we understand that we’re human and others are, too. Nothing and no one is perfect. But we can minimize the things that make us discontent and maximize the things that make us content.
See now why knowing what you want or need to be content is just as important as doing all you can to minimize what makes you discontent?
Make two lists. What you hate about your life and what you love about your life. Then focus on constructive ways to strikethrough the challenges making you discontent and putting checkmarks by the goals, aspirations, desires and dreams that will help you be more content.
Do be constructive. Be honest in what you list. Create with passion but also with compassion for yourself and others in your life. We’re all human, all struggling to find our way. It helps to remember that. It also helps to remember that life isn’t all about us. We’re a thread in a tapestry, so to speak. Important—a loose thread causes the tapestry to unravel—but others are threads, too. Working together, weaving constructively, we can make the tapestry stronger— and life is better for everyone involved.
Change can roar in like a lion or come as softly as a gentle rain. Your actions and how you implement them control that, too. If you try to implement everything at once, you’re taking the lion option. If you focus on changing one thing and then another, you’re opting for the gentle rain.
If others are involved, you probably want the gentle rain option. Often when we make significant changes in our lives, others are less than receptive. They’re used to us being as we were, not as we are, and not as we’re working to become. Change is uncomfortable for them because they don’t know what to expect. By adopting incremental change, you give others and yourself a chance to incorporate a change and get accustomed to it before tackling the next one.
Change isn’t easy. We backslide, we convince ourselves it’s too hard, too much work, too painful. We experience false starts, obstacles that warn us it’s not worth it, and when we see the length of our lists, we can feel overwhelmed. We’re human. This happens. We fall down. The key is to get back up. We all get knocked down in life. Success is just getting up one time more than we’re knocked down. Just one time more.
If we want to be content, we will do the work. We will change. That is the thought to hold onto during trying times. They will pass. If we stick with our plan, stay on our journey, exercise discipline and determination, we will endure those dark times of challenges and come out of them and into the light of achieving our goal.
You’ve heard, “Nothing good lasts forever.” Well, nothing bad does either. When challenged, remind yourself how you felt, hating your life. Do you want to feel that way again? Feel that way for the rest of your life? Of course, not. So stay the course. Find something to be grateful for every day. Big things—I’m upright and healthy, breathing on my own. I’m still in there swinging for a life I’ll love—and little things—the glint of sun on a flower petal or a bird’s wing. Someone’s smile. That you’ve got milk in the fridge and don’t have to stop and run to the store. That you’ve got money to buy another gallon.
You see my point. Feed yourself constructive, positive and uplifting thoughts. Just do it until it becomes second nature. And don’t underestimate the power of this. Remember, what goes into your mind is what comes out. Fill it with negative garbage, and that’s what comes out. Fill it with gratitude and appreciation for little successes and that’s what comes out. The overall impact of positive and constructive anything is huge. It colors your entire world!
Do this and keep doing it. And one day, likely when you least expect it, it’ll dawn on you that you’re not just going through the motions anymore. You’re not forcing yourself to act. You’ve embraced taking action, taking control of your life. And all that discontent you were feeling is being replaced by satisfaction. Little gains build momentum and grow into bigger gains. The process is working. You didn’t like your life. You hated your life. But that life isn’t your life anymore. Now, this is your life—and day by day from here, it only gets better!
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Bride, Shadow Watchers, Book 1. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.www.vickihinze.com. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.