Every five to ten years most people go through a life examination. Through the lessons of counseling others, as well as seeing friends and family go through life, there comes a time where many people ask, is this all that life has to offer?
Maybe you think it is the job, your house, your lack of material things or your spouse that is the source of your disappointment. You think back at all your hopes and dreams and don’t see them happening for you. You realize you are bored and find yourself desiring new excitement. As new experiences, things or people are introduced you experience FEELINGS similar to a drug’s high. Those are all fine unless you begin to rely on those external factors for joy and become reliant to a point of unhealthy addiction.
With anything, we can sometimes idealize other people’s lives and forget we aren’t seeing their whole picture. We aren’t seeing their challenges or sacrifices. If it is a desire for a different spouse, we forget that everyone wakes up with bad breath, likes to get in comfortable clothes after work, has their bad days and the newness always wears off. No job is perfect and all homes require work.
The changes you are considering also require sacrifices. New jobs require you to feel vulnerable again as you go through the learning curve. New houses require a TON of work for you to organize and it takes a while for it to feel like home.
The most severe and costliest change that can also have ripple effects is divorce. Second marriages where children are involved can be even more work than first marriages. You will find things that you don’t like about someone you live with no matter how perfect they may seem. The good things you now take for granted in your current spouse may end up being the very things you miss in the new one.
Whether it is a house, job or person, everything NEW does lose its luster and excitement. Constantly jumping from job to job, house to house or spouse to a spouse is a possible sign of needed self-healing. If the reason for the change is caused by expecting the next thing to lead to greater happiness, it can lead to endless disappointment. It may be too hard to face the fact that the problem is really within yourself and that search externally can lead to continued spirals of emptiness.
The fact is, peace and joy are controlled internally by a reframing of the mind. I have met people who have very little and yet are full of joy. I have talked with someone whose spouse has battled life-threatening cancer for five years yet their faith keeps them holding onto peace. I have met people and heard stories of parents who have lost their children and were still able to forgive their child’s murderer. On the other end of the perspective, I have met people who have all kinds of money and still feel the desire for more in order to be happy.
Alternatively, there are times you can outgrow a job, house or friends. There are also times where you may finally realize the need to leave an abusive spouse or boss. You may have gotten stuck into not changing. You could be in a situation where you have let others take advantage of all of your adjusting on their behalf. You may be in a situation that is truly unhealthy for you. Staying unhappy is also not the answer.
So how do you know whether a change in life is going to lead to a better life for you or not?
Start with self-discovery. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why are you making this move?
- When you go back to the reason’s why you chose that job, home, friend or spouse what was the reason’ for you making that choice originally?
- How has that situation changed?
- Are you chasing something or running away from the old?
- Have you created a list of all the things you currently have to be grateful for?
- If that choice you are contemplating does not make you happy, what will you do next?
- What are all the pros and cons of the changes you are considering?
- If you make this change, could you end up being in the same place you are in now?
- If it is a spouse you are considering leaving and have children, what do you want as your legacy or what kind of life do you want for them? Don’t they at least deserve your effort to first get marriage counseling?
- How do you want to affect the lives of others around you that are forced to do all the adjusting if you do not heal in a healthy way?
Only you can truly answer these questions. If you are willing to hear your answers but are having a hard time finding them, you may need someone to help you self discover.
Find a counselor who will help you with that self-discovery process and that will not judge you. Be sure you are NOT just looking for advice from people who will give you the answers you WANT to hear just so you don’t have guilt. What you NEED to hear is how YOU will feel about yourself after making the decision you choose.
Don’t expect anyone else to give you the answers. If are expecting to be given the advice for an easy way out, don’t. You need to expect to be held accountable for whatever choices you make. If you don’t make a healthy choice for yourself based on your values, it will lead to shame and guilt and more unhappiness for you to face.
Others have been through struggles and learned from mistakes. Those lessons have led to healthier more fulfilled lives. Through counseling and spiritual practice, there is hope for you too!
Southbrook Christian Church has free counseling. There is help out there and within this website. If you are in an abusive relationship or need professional help search for sources near you. Also for further questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a professional reference.
Cover photograph courtesy of Olivia Simon
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To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: firstname.lastname@example.org