Copyright© 2013-2019 Leyla Bagheri M.A in Psychology, Certified Life Coach email@example.com 416.770.0462
In the past few months, I’ve been living alone in an unfamiliar city, away from everyone that I love. I left what was familiar to me to pursue my goals more intensely in graduate school. I knew it would be hard, but I could have never imagined that I’d face this many challenges at once and that it would leave me struggling to find my happiness again.
What was suppose to be an experience that enhanced my life and put me closer to my passions and goals, turned out to slowly drain my passion and take away my happiness. Although I am much more in control now, I want to share with you what I'm doing in the New Year to overcome the challenges that have been creating doubt and unhappiness in my life.
Realizing that something is wrong
The first step to overcoming any problem is realizing that there is a problem. In the past 3 weeks, I've come to realize that something major is not right in my life. From how I don't feel like myself, to complaining often, to how careless I've become with certain things.
So I'm going to take the New Year as a starting point to make things right again. I will do this by first really understanding what went wrong so that I can let go and start fresh.
What went wrong
Unfortunately, being an inexperienced renter, I moved into an apartment filled with problems. The water was not usable at times and would sporadically turn yellow; the heater would sometimes give out; and I'd have people coming to "fix" things about twice a week on average. These problems were not only inconvenient, but also extremely annoying to deal with.
On top of the problems in my apartment, I received late payments that I needed to fund my living and school expenses. This drained my savings and left me financially vulnerable for a couple of months.
With all of this, I took on an ambitious workload in the program. I wanted to (and still insist on) doing practical research that I believe will create a positive impact for everyday people . This meant more work, harder work, and less sleep.
Perhaps, more important than any of these stressors was that I had no immediate social support. I lived alone in an unfamiliar city. I did not know anyone. I did not know any places. And I had little money.
I have always been the "independent type" but now all of the people that I loved were far away. Managing time to maintain my love life and social life is very difficult long distance, specially in graduate school. I commuted many times to see those I cared about because I didn't want to sacrifice them for my goals. Having them in my life and making them happy IS one of my most important goals.
But dealing with EVERYTHING at once was (and is) hard. Really hard. Many times I cried, doubted myself, and doubted my decision. On days that I was down, I didn't recognize myself. It was an extra lonely not recognizing who I was. It's as if I was isolated from myself. I'd look in the mirror feeling disappointed, lost, defeated and miserable. The only thing that kept me going was constant reminders of why I was there, who I was, and what was important to me.
Side note: I had good days too, don't get me wrong. I did all of the things I had to do and I had many days where I was happy and proud as well. Possibly, more good days than bad. But the bad days were really painful and occurred too often. It affected my quality of life. And worse of all, the bad days were not in my control.
Why I Lost my Passion and Happiness
Maybe it is unfair to say that I lost my passion, but I definitely lost a lot of motivation and drive towards what I had long cared about because of the constant struggle. I started not to believe in my goals (and I still doubt them at times). I look at how things operate around me and think "why am I doing what I'm doing?", and "is it even possible to get there?". I'd blame my landlord, useless lawyers, a flawed system, my situation and basically say to myself that "it's not worth it anymore". And maybe it isn't. To be honest, I don't know yet.
But what I do know is that I want to be happy. That I want to maintain a good quality of life regardless of circumstances outside my control. And the only way to do this is to:
1) Take responsibility and control over my own happiness
2) Take responsibility over my own motivation
What I've been doing wrong in the past few months:
I’ve been going against exactly what I’ve preached that I believe about life. That life happens now; to look at the bigger picture; that we are responsible for our own well-being; and that it is never the circumstances that make us unhappy, but our perception of them. I have fallen into the same trap that had me stuck in a miserable life years ago and the one that I’ve told my clients to stay away from.
I’ve been pointing fingers at my living situation, blaming my apartment that’s filled with problems; my late funding and payments that drained my savings; and my terrible stats teacher. I’ve taken these as valid reasons for why I’ve been so miserable. But they are not the problem. My changed perception is the problem: That things are unfair. That hard work doesn't pay off. That maybe I "can't" do this.
I’ve been using words too freely, rather than allowing my actions to speak. I’ve been complaining, I’ve been saying that I will do things, and feeling a false sense of accomplishment and entitlement by doing so. This has made me work less towards the things I care about, and it has filled myself and others with more disappointment than ever necessary.
In the past few months I’ve been avoiding the very things that once made me happy and passionate, like trying new things, exercising, listening with both ears open, LEARNING, doing things for others, writing, and applying the simplest things to my life that have helped me stay motivated and happy in previous years.
A Recharging New Years Resolution
So I’m going to start again.
First, I’m going to forgive myself. I’m going to put my mistakes in the past with no strings attached.
I’m going to take a deep breath and use this time to refocus on who I am and re-centre myself in the present moment. Life happens now, not later. I will allow myself to enjoy the little moments and not allow my mind to wonder where it does not belong (in the past or the future).
I will be thankful for the things I have in the moment and will not WAIT for "situations" to make me happy. I will give thanks every single day for the good things in my life so that I don't forget and get caught up in negative situations and in a negative mindset.
I will stop speaking and start showing. Words can be very deceiving. This is not always by intention, but unfortunately it's true that words can be misunderstood easily. I have developed a bad habit of saying things in the past few months and feeling a false sense of relief (or accomplishment) that I have "done something" about a situation at hand.
I will start to listen so that I can again open my mind to learn. It is my passion to learn and I have denied myself the opportunity by constantly being ready to speak, but not ready to learn.
I will believe in myself again so that I can give it my all. And my all will be good enough, no matter the outcome.
I will practice what I’ve preached and believe in. I’m going to make it a habit to re-visit my values and my most important goals more often through hard times so that I can refuel my motivation to push through.
Learning from past mistakes
These past few months have again shown me that whenever I lose track of my beliefs, who I am, and where I'm going, the world seems to turn. It becomes a constant battle and I begin to drown. My New Years Resolution will be a reminder of my life philosophy. This is the only way that I can reach my most important goals even at the hardest times and maintain my purpose and happiness.
We are human. We are not perfect. We should take this time of the year to forgive ourselves for our slips, mistakes, and leave behind the misfortunes out of our control in the past, so that we can take back our power on the things that we can change in the new year: our happiness.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!