Recently I had a client, Susan, cry out to me on the phone, “But I want to be married! I want to have kids!” She was 33 and felt like others her age had everything she herself wanted. She felt as if somehow she were missing out and couldn’t understand why not her?
Susan was employed at a job she liked and made a decent wage. She had her own apartment in a nice area, had just spent the weekend hiking with a friend, and was looking forward to volunteering that Friday at a local nature preserve. So why wasn’t she happy?
Well, to Susan, she couldn’t be happy because what she really wanted was a husband. Or to be more exact, what she really wanted was love. If after dating a few times, a relationship didn’t work out, Susan would feel let down, disappointed, and wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t he love me?”
She didn’t want just the husband- she wanted to know she was loveable and needed someone outside herself to prove it to her.
As long as we believe that by attaining something out there- a better job, more money, nicer clothes, a boyfriend, a size 6 pair of jeans- we are never going to feel the love and joy we crave.
Nothing and no one was going to make her feel loved until she could receive love in her life today with what she had.
“The relationship is not going to make your life any better,” I told her. Then I proceeded to give her a new list of problems she’d encounter if she did get the husband and kids. “Why does he roll over at night instead of cuddle? Why does he have to be told to actually help out around the house? Why doesn’t he share more of his feelings? Why is he so controlling about money? And why does he always leave the toilet seat up!”
The problems change. Getting a better job, the relationship, more money, the promotion or clients you want, and even the size 6 jeans, ISN’T going to make your life any better! If it’s not good now, it’s not going to be good then. And by that, I mean, if you can’t enjoy the good things in your life today, you won’t feel any different when the circumstances change.
No amount of daydreaming is going to make the future any sweeter when it arrives if we can’t accept the life we have now and begin to put more of what we want into the one we got.
Does that mean we stay in toxic relationships or jobs we hate? Of course not. But we can’t change any of those things until we notice and accept what’s in our life now. And getting out of the circumstance we are in without changing ourselves will guarantee we will find ourselves dealing with the same dissatisfaction under different conditions.
Real joy, real happiness, real fulfillment begins with giving ourselves NOW what we want to have later.
Obviously you can’t conjure up a new home, a romantic relationship, or your ideal career just because you want to give those things to yourself now. But what you can do is begin to give yourself the emotion behind those things.
If a new home makes you feel expansive and provides beauty, then clear out some space now in your home and add flowers to your dining room table.
If a romantic relationship makes you feel more sensual or playful, then run your fingers through some silvery beaded necklaces at the mall, or try on fun hats, wear silky scarves, taste spicy foods with rich flavors, or dance to a sexy song in your living room. (And for you men- if a relationship would make you feel needed, appreciated, playful, and open-hearted, then volunteer, play with or take time to teach a child,or make a dinner for a friend).
And if an ideal career gives you more freedom or allows you to use your creative talents, then head to a Starbucks for half an hour on your lunch break and write while sitting in the sun, or go buy a small canvas and block out an hour and half on Saturday to paint. Or find places you’re interested in and plan a day trip.
The point is the things we want are the things that make us feel alive and that remind us our life is worth living. But we must start with the life we have in order to transform it into more of what we want.
By the way, after asking Susan to tell me what’s good about her life now and what would make this a good day for her, she decided to wash her car because she valued beauty and it made her feel refreshed. Later that day, she texted me, at my request, that she had washed her car and immediately felt lighter and happier- right where she was today.