“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
Jack Nicholson’s famous words delivered a metaphorical slap to Tom Cruise’s face in A Few Good Men and have since then been imprinted into pop culture.
Regardless of the context, it seems like in today’s modern culture there is a similar search for truth –an existential truth. We want to find the keys of happiness and use them to unlock the doors to success and love. We want to see the potential views before we have to climb the mountains. By default, we treat life like one big cost-benefit analysis –let me minimize my risks and pain but maximize my gains and bliss.
Whoever advocated for that approach might be smart but smart does not always equal wise. Risk and gain are sides of the same coin. As are pain and bliss. Any book on Yin & Yang can tell us that much, right? Let’s get into it.
During midnight heart-to-hearts, casual coffee meetups, and in-between running errands, I have friends share with me that they are unhappy. They feel unfulfilled. They feel stuck. They feel down. But, they don’t know why. They try to pinpoint what could make them feel better. If only this person liked me back or made a move. If only I got this job. What if I make a mistake? I just don’t know.
I listen closely as they share their disappointments, delayed dreams and looming fears. I resonate with them.
Sometimes we don’t realize we were in a dark place until we’ve had a break from feeling miserable, or worse, numb. The past few years of my life, it seemed as though I was walking around in the pitch dark with my hands out in front of me hoping I make it to the other side of the room without tripping. It was strange and unsettling, especially when you don’t know where the light switch is located. You just accept that you must deal with what is unpredictable –the unknown as they say.
Now, as I write this, I feel like the room is still only dimly lit. I’m still figuring out how to achieve what I want and my place in this life. But where before it was impossible to see anything, now I can make out the silhouette of objects just enough to walk with confidence to the other side. I have a clearer picture of what I want.
As I listen to the stories of discontent, I ask them the same question that I was forced to ask myself: Can you handle the truth?
In other words, can you handle confronting the root of what has brought you to this moment? We project this question onto external factors because turning them inward brings up a few ugly truths that are too painful to accept.
Why don’t they feel this way turns to –why am I not worthy enough? Why don’t I have this job turns to –am I not capable enough? What if I make a mistake turns to — I don’t trust myself to take a chance.
Truthfully, there are thousands of reasons why some things work out and others don’t. That part is not up to us. But, it’s those moments of anxiety in between receiving the answers we seek that bring to the forefront our deepest insecurities.
People aren’t happy because they think they’re supposed to always feel happy –that sadness means there is something wrong with them. They think that happiness is the sum of the equation and not the byproduct of living intentionally.
Sometimes people are not ready to handle the truth. They aren’t willing to really break into themselves, to fumble and fall in the dark. To make choices. This means they are missing out on a fundamental lesson –the experience of simply feeling your way through a situation.
When you trip and lose your balance, you learn that your feet must graze the floor gently to understand the blocks. When you fall, you are humbled and you realize even the most intelligent person cannot foresee everything. When you reach your hands out, you trust that in this moment that is enough to get you one more step forward. And the most important lesson of all? That by the time you actually find the light switch, you probably have become familiar already with every corner of that room.
Why is this important?
Because humans are complex. Whether people consider themselves to be “good” or not, the fact is that every human is capable of right and wrong doing. And when we get everything that we have wanted, we must be ready to assume that responsibility. We must be familiar with our strengths and negative habits. Or else, the very things we have wanted will destroy us. No external challenge will amount to the inner damage we are capable of doing to ourselves when we let the fear of losing the things we’ve wanted make us lose ourselves.
This truth is ultimately hidden in our pain –it won’t be in guru podcasts, self-help books, bank accounts, or romantic relationships. The truth is always in those small moments as we are fumbling, moving, and rising again after a fall. It’s so deep in us that we must allow our heart to break a little so we can look into ourselves and ask –where have we neglected our own needs?
To be happy takes courage, self-compassion and humility. It requires us to sit alone with nothing to distract us and feel everything that has ever made us feel vulnerable move through us like a needle stitching a wound. Once we get to know ourselves a little better, we realize that all this time we felt rejected we had been rejecting ourselves.
You aren’t happy because you’re searching for something that doesn’t exist. You must create it –with both hands in front of you and one step at a time. |
Roam to the original article at: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/why-you-arent-happy-532ddc5b4858