Sometimes, despite being right on point with our purpose and goals, we experience ‘negative’ moods and emotions and forget that they’re nothing more than the weather: they always pass.
When we forget this fact, it’s not uncommon to think our feelings mean that something is wrong with us. This is what the shrinks call ‘pathologizing’.
I come across this quite frequently in my practice.
Even though someone may be right on track, have created a system of organization and prioritization that works for them, and is getting the work done… they believe something is wrong with them, or whatever it is they’re trying to do.
Because sometimes it’s not fun. And doing what you want should always be fun, right? If it’s boring and frustrating, or you just don’t ‘feel like it’, then it’s too hard, which means you’re lazy or crazy, lack sufficient training, are afraid of success, or maybe you’re just not talented enough.
No, that type of thinking is what is wrong. Not how it feels to do what you’re doing.
I don’t know where we got the idea that everything we do should be easy, interesting, and comfortable all the time.
Or maybe I do: Internalized consumerism.
Every product we see on television, online, or anywhere else promises happiness. Not just happiness, but endless contentment and pleasure. We see a great performance by someone who makes it look easy, so we think they couldn’t have had to work through what we would have to get there.
The ultimate delusion is that we witness these objects as forever instead of the snapshot in time that they are…snapshots that are usually air-brushed, metaphorically speaking.
Life ain’t a snapshot, it’s animate, wildly so. Nothing is guaranteed, especially not how we’ll feel about something we’ve decided to commit to.
Usually finishing something, if you consciously celebrate that accomplishment by acknowledging what it took, feels great, or at the very least like a relief. One of my favorite Bette Midler anecdotes is that she is known to have said the only reason she performs, is to experience the exquisite relief once it’s over. That, it seems, she can count on. I can certainly relate, can you?
To expect the process of working towards something to always feel great, however, is a set up for quitting before it’s complete.
My advice is to welcome unwanted feelings as part of the process. Embrace them. Don’t hyperfocus on them, but notice them, feel them, and continue doing whatever you’ve decided to do anyway.
One disclaimer: I’m not talking about physical pain, where you might be pushing too hard during a workout.
That’s not my area of expertise.
My area of expertise resides in the mechanics of accomplishment while being human. The thoughts, moods, and emotions that arise in the process of doing.
Rule number one when encountering not-fun feelings is ‘what you resist will persist’.
Rule number two is ‘do it anyway.’
Unless you absolutely can’t. In which case take a break, take a walk, take a bath, play some music, exercise, visit a museum, journal it out, call a friend, call a coach… but give yourself a specific time to get back to work that isn’t further in the future than the following day.
And if you do call me or any other coach remember:
The need to reach out for support doesn’t mean you suck, it means you’re stuck.
(Now there’s a line waiting to be needle-pointed on a pillow.)
Getting out of isolation is a healthy way to break out of stuckness.
Staying stuck or giving up by deciding something is wrong with you because of how you feel, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.