dear coach by the sea
I’m really unhappy with how my life seems to be right now, both at work and home. I feel as if nothing I do is ever quite good enough and I’m exhausted. I feel really stressed and quite angry about being taken for granted by everyone to be honest. I’ve noticed that all I seem to do is complain when I talk to my friends but it doesn’t change anything or even make me feel better really. What should I do to break out of this rut? Mrs SJ
So, you feel unhappy, stuck, exhausted and angry.
The first step is to stop, breathe and accept that is how you feel. It’s not right or wrong, just how you feel. And the feelings are signals that you need to review a few things you might be doing or thinking.
Now we could take stop time to map out the possibly long list of things that you don’t like about your life as it is now. Then we could work together to make a step-by-step action plan for each one. And you might get to that later.
But I’m going to suggest you start somewhere else. Looking at what’s really the barrier regardless of what your focus might be, because if you unhook the barrier everything becomes more do-able. Almost always, our barrier is about fear. Or the different flavours of fear. If I hear people use words like ‘should’, it’s usually guilt-flavoured fear. Words like ‘could never’ is usually self-confidence flavour. In your case, words like ‘stressed’, ‘angry’ and ‘taken for granted’? Sounds like victim-flavoured fear, a very popular choice!
So, let’s try that. In the traditional triangle of victim, persecutor and rescuer, we play our chosen role because we get a pay-off from it. Seeing yourself as a ‘victim’ who is taken for granted and unappreciated doesn’t sound like a great spot…but it has some real benefits. We invite attention and support. We avoid tough decisions or hard work while we wait to be rescued. We avoid feeling responsible by blaming the persecutors who take us for granted or make our lives stressful. And we get to feed our ego by feeling ‘right’ where others are ‘wrong’ and look for approval that confirms it. We’ve all visited the comfort of the victim corner at some time in our lives!
However, if it stops working for us and we feel in a rut as you say, how can we step away from that spot? Honestly look at what ‘victim’ gives you from the benefits list that has mattered in your situation so far (and it’s ok to squirm a little, and you don’t have to spill your guts in public!). Do that before choosing to try a different mindset that meets the need for attention, say, or challenges your avoidance habits in a different way or pushes you to accept that other peoples’ ‘right’ and your ‘right’ are equally valid but perhaps not the same. If you were going to look at what you don’t like about how your life is right now AND completely remove the opinions or needs of others AND all your own self-criticism or judgments of others…..just focus on what you want and how you might get it….what would that look like? If it feels hard, that’s ok
The big pay-off of non-victim is that you increase your ability to set the direction for your own ship and trim your own sails. Being honest with yourself about the victim barrier first makes setting goals and steps to achieve them a much clearer path to see and an easier task to do. If it feels hard, that’s ok. Treat it like an experiment. Pick one thing and see what you learn from tackling it looking through a different window. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, pop back for a cup of coffee looking over the beach and we’ll try a different window.
Coach By The Sea