How many times have you felt sad and find yourself putting responsibility on the situations you're in for that feeling? How many times have you made decisions or reacted upon this feeling and found yourself in an even worst position? How many times have you woken up the next day and slapped yourself because you realized it isn't as bad as it seemed and now you've messed something up?
I'll share with you what I've done so many times in the past. I've been a college dropout (twice), I've quit a variety of jobs I could have stuck in for a little longer and I've made my ex partners feel like they're doing a terrible job in our relationship.
And just yesterday I found myself waking up to that sinking feeling of satisfaction again. But this time I caught myself before I jumped off the cliff of self sabotage. To give a little context, I'd been feeling a little stressed about this new career shift I am trying to make as I begin my coaching business. From building content that is creative and authentic in order to show my knowledge and attract clients, to pricing sessions, marketing plans, etc - all with a good dose of impostor syndrome. I didn't sleep well Saturday night as I woke up to a million thoughts at full speed and an upset tummy from what I assume is 50% the pizza I ate, the other 50% my anxiety.
So when Sunday morning came, I felt totally depressed and caught. I could see my thoughts invading me with "It's your relationship, you're totally disconnected, maybe he isn't right for you." and "When are you ever going to accomplish your dream of living in an island in Thailand and travelling all over the place? You're probably staying home forever until you get married like everyone else in this backward country." and "Oh my god, will I ever be able to afford getting my own place? My family's driving me nuts. Look at where you are at your age. How pathetic. If you could see yourself ending up like this at eighteen you'd probably scream."
And the worst one: "Will I ever make it?
Wow. These are some horrible thoughts. Makes you want to just give everything up and fall down the depression rabbit hole, doesn't it? Here's the thing though. It all felt so familiar. I've felt this way before at many different points in my life. I've had these thoughts before about other situations I was facing in my life. I've felt this way before with other relationships too. So there's a pattern here. One where I start to feel unsatisfied with everything in my life and then spiral into reacting through a series of making decisions such as quitting something, moving, ending a relationship, or travelling - in order to find a change and escape that horrible feeling of discontent.
This time I remembered something one of my coaches told me from my ontological coaching certification during one of my sessions as a "coachee". I was complaining about not being where I thought I would be: not making money from my passions, not travelling the world like I've always dreamed of, not having my own home, etc. And his answer was: "I think you're focusing too much on external factors, and it's time you start looking within."
My reaction to that? PUKE. Seriously? I think all of us self growth and spirituality junkies have read or heard that a billion times in almost book out there, every interview, lecture, course, etc. What the hell does it even mean? How the hell do I look within? How can I be happy if I haven't accomplished the life I want?
But then it finally clicked when I had this thought: "I feel so disconnected to my partner..." Almost automatically, the wiser part of me, my "higher self" as spiritual leaders like to call it, who had listened without judgement to what my coach said, replied to that thought with this question: "And how is your connection with yourself right now?"
BOOM. That, my friends, is what my coach meant by looking within. It all clicked from that there on and then a cascade of questions came flowing in that quickly shifted my perspective entirely. If you had woken up joyful today, would you still be having all these thoughts? Would these situations still be bothering you? Would you still judge your relationship as a poor one, your living situation as the ultimate failure and most importantly...
How would you be judging yourself?
And before I almost jumped off that cliff again into making a series of decisions to self sabotage like complaining to my partner and blaming him for this disconnection (rather than coming up with a solution to connect with him for example), or losing motivation to do any work because my living situation isn't "ideal" (rather than once again, coming up with a solution to focus better) and slowly start to quit on my dreams... I redirected the focus back to myself.
What do I need right now to connect with myself first and self care in order to feel good again, before I decide what to do about all these other external factors?
Here's what I did in that moment, but do take in mind that whatever you can do to connect with yourself and self care will vary according to what you need or feel like doing in that moment. It could be a walk, watching a movie, dancing, listening to music, doing art, calling a friend, meditating, yoga, cleaning, cooking, reading - it can be anything. It's whatever you feel like doing.
In that moment I wanted to go to the gym and work out. After that, I meditated. As I meditated, solutions started to come up and intuitive answers came for why I was feeling this way. It wasn't that my life was a failure. Those were judgements I was having while I was under the "emotional influence." Instead of thinking my relationship sucked because we weren't connecting enough and maybe we aren't right for each other because of that I thought of ideas to things I could invite him to do for us to spend quality time together. If I found we weren't having deep enough conversations as I would like to have, I made a list of thought provoking questions I could ask him and some notes on things I've read that I could share with him.
I also started to think of places I could go to to work and get some personal space away from my home and the family noise. Perhaps I could start working out earlier in the morning at a gym, take my computer with me, and go for a swim at the club we're members at and never go to. That would feel like a different, awesome day and would help me feel less trapped being at home every single day.
Etc, etc, etc. My complaints and my self sabotaging thoughts shifted to creative solutions in order to find mental peace and joy again.
That lead me to the intention I wanted to set for myself for the rest of the week: joy and discipline. I set out those intentions as my week focus so that I could let my unconscious know what I wanted.
And that is how I prevented self sabotage and discovered the relationship my sadness had all these years with self sabotaging decisions. Of course when you start feeling an emotion, your mind, your ego, your brain - will start looking for things to blame it on. Of course it will cloud the way you look at things and influence your attitudes and behaviour. But by looking within and taking care of myself first while still accepting these feelings and letting them be, not resisting or judging them, nor judging myself for having them - I got my power and control back.
So, thank you coach, I got it.
Next time you feel sad or unsatisfied and start thinking of things you have to do to resolve whatever is going on out there - make sure you take care of yourself first and whatever is going in internally. Decisions should be made from a place of peace and clarity, not just emotions.