If you're looking for the average '10 steps to more positivity and enlightenment' kind of blog, then I'm probably not the coach for you. As a matter of fact, I find the positivity movement over-rated.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm anti-positivity. If I was I probably wouldn't be a very good life coach.
But I do think there's an over-emphasis on 'achieving' happiness as this constant state of being that's quite frankly creating an epidemic of folks who feel inadequate.
Delusions of Social Media
In terms of feeling inadequate, it doesn't help that social media allows us to create profiles of seemingly perfect lives because let's face it, few will post pics of the shittiest life moments.
'And this is us angry after a big argument about finances...'
'Here's what I look like when I first wake up..'
'This is me having a breakdown because I feel really inadequate today...'
The behind the scenes reality is often so different.
An article entitled 'Is Social Media Bad for You?' courtesy of BBC.com in January 2018 quoted various studies on the effects of social media on mood, anxiety and sleep and here's part of the results on depression:
"Two studies involving more than 700 students found that depressive symptoms, such as low mood and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, were linked to the quality of online interactions. (...) A similar study conducted in 2016 involving 1,700 people found a threefold risk of depression and anxiety among people who used the most social media platforms. Reasons for this, they suggested, include cyber-bullying, having a distorted view of other people’s lives, and feeling like time spent on social media is a waste."
Avoiding Bad Feelings
Becoming a life coach helped me realize that happiness really isn't something you achieve. We either feel good or negative feelings but all feelings are part of the human experience. True happiness isn't measured by feelings of constant positivity nor does it come from external achievements and validations. Happiness studies at Harvard have confirmed that happiness is mostly measured by the quality of our connections and relationships with others and how much love we give and receive.*
Just because we experience sadness or anger doesn't mean we're unhappy. This was brilliantly demonstrated in the made for kids movie 'Inside Out' which was co-produced by a team of psychologists. It cleverly shows that we feel different emotions that all need to be expressed (in healthy ways) but not repressed. There's a time for expressions of Sadness, Anger, Fear and even Disgust even though Joy definitely prefers to take over.
Are you feeling sad because your relationship ended or mad because of your oppressive manager? Hooray that makes you human, alive and likely not a sociopath!
Sometimes our inability to move past life's challenges has to do with a lack of empathy or acknowledgement of our feelings by others. Here's a common observation:
Person A confides in person B that they're upset about something. Person B begins to feel awkward that Person A is feeling sad or angry so they immediately reply something like: 'Aww sorry to hear but at least you still have your health! or a job! or (insert some other bandaid positive statement here). And the ever popular: 'Well gotta just keep positive eh?'
While the intention may be good, these statements are actually a lack of empathy disguised as a dose of 'quick fix positivity'. Here's an analogy: If someone was lying by the side of the road starving to death and cried: 'I'm so hungry, I need food!', few would reply with: 'yeah I understand but try to focus on the positive, the sun is shining today and I hear it's going to be nice all week!' Obviously they can't focus on the damn weather until their need for nourishment is met! It's the same with emotions. People who are upset typically need a little empathy before they can even begin to focus on the positive or on how to fix a problem. 'Hey, I'm so sorry to hear you had that experience or that you're feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, angry etc. Is there anything I can do to help?'
Let's Cut the Crap!
After having practiced coaching for a decade and lived through a number of my own personal challenges I have very little time for bullshit or feel good lists that don't get to the core of some of the real changes we sometimes need to make.
Sorry, but you can't meditate or stretch your way out of a crap job or a shitty relationship. Both are still good for your health but your problems will be there waiting unless you find the confidence, energy and support to make real changes and potentially change some of your belief system that isn't serving you very well.
Sometimes you may find that even after you make important life changes, you still have to deal with the residual effects of stress and fatigue and take some time or space to heal and get support. Not because there's anything wrong with you. Not because you're ungrateful for the good stuff in your life or can't see the positive.
(Side note: I unfollow anyone who posts about being deliriously happy because so long as there are a few morons governing the world we'd have to be delusional to feel happy every moment of every day. I equally unfollow anyone saying they're going to flood Facebook with positivity and light because I just might barf...)
If you've made it all the way to the end of this introductory post thanks for reading.
My 4 goals for subsequent posts will be to make them:
b: interesting & relevant,
d: non self-righteous or nauseating.
If you'd like me to post on a specific topic of interest let me know at: email@example.com