Why do we live the wrong lives?
I’m going to give it to you straight. Are you ready?
We often live the wrong lives because having someone or something to blame for our unhappiness is easier than taking responsibility for the creation of our happiness.
Sometimes it’s easier to resign ourselves to dissatisfaction than to step out on the ledge, daring greatly in pursuit of those things that give us joy.
We may like to believe that happiness comes only to the lucky. No. Happiness comes to those who make it a priority.
After a certain point, we have to ask ourselves: if what I have isn’t what we want, why do I keep holding on to it?
More often than not, we have less than satisfying lives because we want a scapegoat. We want someone or something to blame for the state of things. We want drama (though we’ll often say we hate it). Sometimes, we even want to be victims.
I can hear you now. You’re asking, why would anybody want that?
Drama, malaise, and dissatisfaction are the gifts that keep on giving. There’s an ease, righteousness, and lack of responsibility that comes with victimhood. There is safety in staying dissatisfied.
In this case, perhaps we ought to be grateful; we have exactly what we wish for—a distraction from whatever it is we’re avoiding.
Instead of taking responsibility for the reality of our lives, it’s generally easier, after all, to point a finger and say, “I can’t be happy until this external thing changes.”
Trust me, I speak from experience. I have a history of choosing the wrong romantic partners. They were wrong not because they weren’t good men, but because they weren’t right for me. And because our incompatibilities rubbed just the right way, our flaws exacerbated each other and we both wound up hurt. For a while, it was always they who were the problem, not me.
Sound familiar? Maybe you’re still in a place of blaming your partner or ex-partner or your boss or your job for your current state of unhappiness. If so, ask yourself:
>> If all I really wanted was love and respect, would I tolerate anything less in my life?
>> If I were happy, where would I be spending my time and energy?
>> What areas of my life are in need of my attention?
>> What does my current situation or unhappiness allow me to ignore?
So, I bet you have your answer.
Drama, malaise, and dissatisfaction are forever shape-shifting distractions that allow us to continue trying to fight or fix a situation we know, deep down, cannot be fought or fixed. But as long as we continue to stare directly at the overarching experience of unhappiness instead of the true, hard-to-swallow specifics of it, we can continue to blame circumstance instead of recognizing our inability or unwillingness to take ownership of our own lives.
That’s right; it is not our sh*tty circumstances that are blocking us from being happy, but instead our desire to be blocked, stagnant, and “comfortable” that is causing us to choose unsatisfying situations.
Walk away from the external thing if you’ve tried to change it to no avail. Is it really any more complicated than that?
Here’s how we change this pattern of choosing what’s wrong for us:
We stay put.
We see the story trying to draw us in and we let it go on without us.
We let the hamster wheel of our thoughts run and we don’t get on the ride.
And when we’ve done that, we look at what comes up for us as we let it go. It is likely that these things that come up for us will appear in the form of fear. The fear of being alone. The fear of responsibility. The fear of being honest with ourselves.
Once we have named what it is we’re afraid of, generally, a funny thing happens: we become much less afraid of it. There’s something about naming it. Identifying the space and shape that our fear takes up in our bodies causes its power over us to lessen. And then it becomes much easier to either change the way we walk through the world or become honest about the choice to leave things as they are.
This in itself—this decision to accept our current reality as the result of the choices we’ve made thus far—offers us ownership of our lives. This is the first step toward the happiness we claim to seek.
Happiness isn’t safe or cool or easy. It requires work and commitment and exposure and, oftentimes, if we have lived a long time without these things, this change can be threatening for those around us. Living a life that brings us joy requires a commitment to ourselves that allows us to better show up for those we love, but not everyone in your life right now is going to see that.
To find the happiness that is our birthright, we must take ownership and responsibility of our paths, even if it means identifying and letting go of the things that are wrong for us. Sometimes that looks like certain relationships. Sometimes it’s a job we once loved.
Once we begin to let go of the wrong things, space will begin to open up for you, and—as long as you don’t rush to fill it with something else—you’ll be able to see what will make you happy.
We tend to subconsciously choose things that make us feel safe, but there is something better than a safe life, and that is a happy life. It’s yours if you want it.