When you write about your own adventures to stay happy, it has the wonderful side effect of inspiring confidence in others. This sometimes means a dose of the blues drops into my inbox.
It’s a privilege (most of the time) being invited into someone’s inner psyche, because as we know, they can be messy places. However, when the connection is made it’s also where the magic happens. It’s like having a presence climb into our nightmare to flick on the light, suddenly everything seems a little brighter, just by having someone there to listen.
Here’s an extract of one of the many emails I receive. It’s from a friend, we’ll call her Liz, and Liz has asked me to share some of her thoughts on this blog because she wants others to know they’re not alone. If you identify with what she’s saying and have some kindness to extend to her, please write to her in the comments section at the end of the story, or on my Facebook profile over here:
Hi Sara,Thanks again for listening to me the other night, it was a big help. As I mentioned, I have put some thoughts down, see below. They may not be very coherent or structured but I find it helps. There are no answers in there but more about what is going through my mind……
…..This will not be written with too much structure, [it’s] merely a dump of my thoughts. I do have my good days and then I have really low patches, ones where regardless of how hard I tried to keep myself busy, the cloud still lingers. I have spent many an hour sitting and contemplating my own thoughts and trying to make some sense of why and how I am feeling. Trying to rationalise it and also trying to put it in context….
Dropping the Ball
Liz goes on to explain that over the years she has dropped her very own juggling ball, the ball representing her own needs, her dreams, her happiness. Fiercely ambitious for reasons she can easily trace back to an unstable childhood, Liz set ambitious goals for herself early in life.
I wanted to get married before I was 30 and have children immediately. I had earnings targets, to enable me to pay off the mortgage by a certain age, the list goes on and on.
Yet, I set these goals in my twenties and haven’t reviewed them since. Suddenly I’m in my mid-forties. All of my goals since then have been for my family. It’s a paradox, at work where I hold down a senior role in a huge multinational behemoth, I’m constantly required to review, reassess and change goals on a regular basis, do they make sense, are they appropriate, are they aligned with the business strategy? I can easily combine the macro and micro review process in the workplace, but in my own mind and body I’m like the archetypal plumber with the leaky pipes.
Liz’s story is just one of many I hear daily, and one of the many inputs to the mini e-guide I have written called Twelve Tips for Taming the Black Dog.
So how do I describe what happy is? To be honest I don’t really know. What I do know is that my current emotional and mental state is not happy. I am starting to sound like a bit of a loony, I’m sure. [SL – Liz, you sound like everyone else who is grappling with an existential crisis. Not loony at all].
Many years ago, my definition would have probably been characterised with: husband who loves me, gorgeous children, wonderful and generous friends, a great job that pays well and affords my family many experiences. I’m sure many others would think this is a reasonable definition/characterisation of ‘happy’.
Yet by her own admission, it is not Liz’s definition of happy. She closes by saying this:
Thank you again, my dear friend and I appreciate your support but the answer is for me to find – I just need to keep searching for it.
Yes, my love you do. We all have to walk our darkest path alone, but until you find the light we’ll be there to step in and hold your hand.