Do you ever find yourself comparing your life to others? With the constant barrage of social media, TV and movies we are often left believing we aren’t doing enough or doing the right things. There are countless sites and blogs telling us how we should handle nearly every aspect of our lives. We often get hit with comments or articles telling us we’re not raising our children correctly, we’re eating the wrong things or even telling us how we should feel about certain topics. There seems to be little room for discovering ourselves and living our lives in ways that work for us.
We are each individuals with different interests, beliefs, lifestyles and values. Trying to live your life according to someone else’s standards and rules can cause feelings of worthlessness, uncertainty and disappointment. Depression often creeps in when we are unable to accept and own who we are and what makes us happy. Unfortunately, many never take the time to discover what that means to them on an individual level. We may look to others-what our friends, family or even those in the spotlight-and see what makes them happy and assume it will work for us as well. I have had numerous clients tell me they feel shame or embarrassment because their idea of a perfect weekend involves sitting in their home and reading a book-even though doing so makes them happy! They say they “should” be going out or hanging out by the pool or doing some wild activity, simply because it’s what other people define as enjoyable. Others shy away from relationships or lifestyles that they are attracted to simply because it’s not widely accepted and not “normal”. Even if those are things that would make them happy.
So, how do we find our “normal”?
-First, be open to accepting that what brings you joy is unique and special. What brings your best friend happiness, may not have the same effect on you. This does not mean you are wrong or bad. This also does not mean your best friend is wrong or bad. Try practicing “non-judgment” by viewing these differences as simply that, just different with no positive or negative attachment.
-Also, try new things! If you’re not sure what makes you happy or aren’t sure what is “normal” for you-try various things and see what feels right. Be willing to let go of what isn’t working for you. If a certain family tradition brings you no happiness and you’re just doing it because you’re “supposed to”, look into modifying it or not doing it at all. Look into starting new traditions you actually enjoy.
-Learn how to trust yourself. Pay attention to your emotions when you’re doing an activity. Does this make you happy? Does doing it make you angry or stressed out? What activities do you look forward to doing? What ones make you want to crawl back into bed? Regardless of how many of your friends or family say “Oh come on! This is so much fun!”-listen to your gut. Is there something else you’d rather be doing?
-Be willing to fail. Finding out who we are and what we like can take a lot of trial and error. We may try things and think we’ll like them-but end up hating them! This might happen several times. Just because you’re not enjoying an activity doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you-it just means you haven’t found it yet.
Finding your path and what works for your can take time. It can feel frustrating especially when others seem to know their “normal” from the start. Are you struggling with accepting who you are and what makes you happy? Has it been a long time since you’ve actually enjoyed something? A seasoned therapist may be able to help. Contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.