You are not alone!
I often see media inspirational videos on “how to get the most out of life” and “how to reach your potential” and the like. While I’m a fan of positive psychology, I don’t think that a one-size-fits all prescription for life is very helpful.
The reality is many of us feel helpless and powerless to change many aspects of everyday life that may not fulfill us.
We’ve made major life choices that have taken years or even decades to play out. After investing so much of our time and effort (as well as forgoing other paths of course), we realize that we are not really happy with where we ended up.
The Bondage of Life
Though it sounds enticing, many times dropping everything and starting from scratch is just not an option.
What the self-help books never mention is a scenario like this…
You quit your well-paying job to start the business you’ve always wanted, the business tanks and you go into bankruptcy.
You follow your heart and move to a new country to be with the love of your life only to find out that they are narcissistic, abusive, and controlling.
Or even this…
You have a great career and a partner and kids who love you, but you feel empty and exhausted and yet would feel like you’d be riddled with guilt if you left them.
The reality is, when you make major life choices, you have no guarantee that your choice is the right one that will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled for the rest of your life.
Choices such as a marriage partner or a career take many many years to develop, and during this development period, you won’t easily jump ship, because you believe that it’s a work in progress.
Even when you realize it was the wrong partner or career you chose, jumping ship is not always easy.
And even if you do decide to jump ship, sometimes the fear of starting anew is so daunting, you convince yourself it’s really not that bad and stay where you are.
The Path to Freedom
Self-actualization is a lot more daunting when you are currently entrenched in the reality of everyday life – as most of us are.
In order to get into the positive, one first needs to get out of the negative. Find freedom from the bondage of current situations or the mentality that that keeps you there.
It’s like that scene in Never Ending Story where Atreyu and his horse are in the swamp of sadness and the horse gives into the sadness and starts to sink into the quicksand and dies.
It seems laughable to imagine that the best way of talking him out of his situation would have been to talk about how much potential he has to save the world as he is stuck in that quagmire of mud and sadness and self-defeat.
They say that you have to be able to help yourself before you can help someone else. And I believe the first step to helping yourself involves honest self-examination (not always pleasant but the challenge proves rewarding).
I’ll leave you with this book recommendation to get started on that self examination: Fight: Win Freedom from Self-Sabotage by Hazel Gale.
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