“Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…”

By Nancy Pollard, LCSW, LLC
 
Nancy Pollard

Or is it?
Life is good…right? 

It always intrigues me that something can look great on the outside, yet on the inside…not so good.  We think that we will be happy when we achieve a particular goal, only to find it isn’t all that we thought it would be.

Perhaps you are married, have a family and a good job.  You look around and see that you have everything money can buy: nice car, dream house, everyone’s healthy, and yet something is missing.   Something is not right inside.  You feel guilty for complaining.  You distract yourself by shopping, taking a trip, spending more money on ‘stuff’ in an attempt to quiet the unrest you feel inside.  But the unrest resurfaces, making you anxious, depressed, and feeling confused.  You ‘should’ be happy…but you aren’t.

It’s summertime and the kids are home, but you can’t wait for them to start school again!  All you do is pick up messes, make meals, break up fights, give baths, read bedtime stories.  Exhausted, you try to find some time for yourself but end up staying up too late only to start over again in the morning, more tired than the day before.

Or maybe you are a trust funder.  Your friends envy you: “Wow, you never have to work, how lucky is that!”  But you don’t feel lucky, or happy.  You feel frustrated, unfulfilled, longing for something but you don’t know what.  You are a ‘poor little rich girl’ who has everything…but has nothing.

Maybe you are a happy, easygoing person.  But you are living with someone who is depressed.  Or someone who abuses alcohol or is drug-addicted.  Their mean moods, sour faces, negative attitudes permeate the air.  You walk on eggshells when around them.  The home is not light and free and happy, it is oppressed and dark.  But still you stay.  You hold on to a hope and a prayer that maybe today will be better.  But it isn’t.

Maybe your in-laws or parents want to spend time with the grandkids and invite you to go on a family vacation.  Who doesn’t want to go to Paris or on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Barbados?  You would be crazy to say no to that.  And yet once you are on the trip, you feel trapped, obligated.  You find yourself feeling and acting like the child in the family, even though you are in your 30’s, 40’s.  You have no boundaries.

And that great job you landed…maybe isn’t so great after all.  You are not given opportunities to shine.  Your hands are tied by a dominating and egotistical CEO.  The executives gloss over you.  You keep trying to fit in, but it is a struggle, and disappointing.

Or maybe you finally RETIRED!  WOOHOO!  The quintessential goal of the past few generations is met.  And yet you find yourself completely lost.  You have gone from Hero to Zero.  You are home all day with your partner (who, by the way, has learned to live quite nicely with you out of the house all day) and now you are crowding each other.  Becoming short with one another, restless, and easily agitated.

We often look around and think, everyone has it better, everyone has more, everyone is happy. Perhaps they seem happy to the outside world, but suffer a silent but thunderous inner discontent.

What is your part in your unhappiness? It is easy to blame others or outside circumstances and think the world has a conspiracy against you.  It is a delicate balance, deciding if it is you or if it is ‘them’.  Sometimes we are too close to a situation.  Who can you trust to give you some clarity?  Are those you are listening to concerned deeply about you, or are they projecting their own unhappiness? 

Solutions:

  1. If you are unhappy in your relationship, figure out why.  Look at yourself and your part, what can you do; what can’t you do.  You owe it to your partner to be happy; to be content and positive.  Expect the same from him or her.  Seek relationship counseling if needed.

  2. If you are depressed or addicted, get professional help at once.  And if you are living with someone who is, INSIST that they get help or be prepared to leave the relationship.

  3. Moms, cut yourself some slack.  Children are demanding, consuming, and PRECIOUS all in one package.  It’s a full time, 24-hour job.  Childhood ebbs and flows through many stages: the bad passes, the good usually prevails.

  4. If you are fortunate enough to be a trust funder, find your purpose.  Make your mark in the world and leave your own stamp on society.  No one can do that for you or give that to you but you.

  5. If you travel with your older parents, think through your expectations of the trip and learn theirs.  Claim your adult status, establish boundaries, and find your voice around your elders.

  6. If you are unhappy at work, make a change.  If you are swimming upstream, maybe you are in the wrong place, working with the wrong people in the wrong environment.  Learn your talents and natural strengths.  Put yourself where you can shine.  Seek the help of an Executive Coach.

  7. If you are retired and feel lost, give yourself some time to settle in.  Create some routine for yourself, take a class, volunteer, learn a new language, play an instrument, sing in the choir.  Be gentle with yourself - it is a HUGE adjustment.  Stay productive, set some new goals, and get help if need be.

If you are not at peace in your heart, you have nothing.  Happiness is not somewhere to ‘get to’ but the journey along the way.  Success is not measured by material wealth.  Success is calm, quiet, and extraordinary.  Revisit your expectations.  Maybe you are okay exactly as you are.  Maybe you do have enough.  

The goal is to be integrated, the same on the inside as it looks from the outside.  Don’t be too proud to seek help.  You are not alone, there are people to help guide you.

Grab the last few days of summer, and soak it in.  Take time to see the green leaves before they turn gold.

Just a little Mountain Therapy

Copyright © 2016 Nancy Pollard

 

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