False happiness will not force happiness.
List the things that make you feel happy-tip, dancing, listening to music, going for a walk, hanging out with friends…
But how true are all those things. How true or helpful are these things when deep down your heart is not feeling happy.
There is a base level of contentment that we all have, and when that base need is balanced or being well fed then yeah popping on your favourite tune and having a kitchen rave may well make you feel good, hanging out with friends will feed your soul. But what about when that base level of contentment is not being fed, what about when your base level is feeling anxious, or lonely, or depressed, or what if fight or flight is so activated that nothing feels real or rooted.
You see the thing is, all these methods to ‘raise your vibe’ to improve your mood only really work when you have the space and capacity to dig out the feelings that are not so comfortable, and that comes from open and honest conversation, not dancing to Chaka Khan!
Have you ever found yourself walking along the most beautiful beach, but with a heart so heavy you sob, not able to feel the connection and beauty? Have you ever been in a social situation surrounded by friends yet felt so incredibly lonely, even if on the surface you are shimmying the sequins off of your top? Does your underlying anxiety and fear of the future prevent you from enjoying the light of the sun sparkling on the water, the laughter of your child playing? Does the pressure to connect and feel, to do the work to feel better, make positive choices totally overwhelm you at times?
This is because you can’t keep burying your truest thoughts and feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, how vulnerable or even stupid you may feel voicing them you need to honour the dark, the shadow side to let in the light.
So, when I list the things that make me feel happy there are 2 lists. There is the ‘happy happier’ list, and there is the transitioning to happiness list.
This looks like singing and dancing, creating and laughing when I am in a good place, but when my mood is darker, when my heart hurts my happy list is very different. It includes vulnerable honest conversation about my fears, it includes honouring my boundaries without the need for defensiveness, it includes asking for and accepting help, it includes journaling with honest integrity, it includes reaching out and speaking my truth, sharing and helping others who are struggling. with my knowledge and lived experience.
Because happiness isn’t all fluff and fun. Yes, you definitely build happiness with fun and laughter, but it will all topple down if your foundations are not strong, and strong foundations are not built on lies, so that honest conversation needs to occur, be it with a friend, a partner, a counsellor, healer or simply with yourself.
We are living in times of huge unease, as much as we are all trying to get on the best we can there is no denying that there is huge amounts of anxiety, pressure to do the right thing, fear of the future be it job security, political or health and wellbeing. Not one of us has been unaffected by what is happening in the world today, and as much as there is recognition of this widely, the conversation still isn’t being had widely because fear and anxiety breeds defensiveness, which leads to anger which kills the ability to have honest vulnerable conversation. But we need to, and if not with others at least to start with to ourselves-and this is where the trusty journal comes in.
Journaling does not need to be over complex, simply start with the statement I feel… And let it roll, don’t be scared of how you feel, you live with it every day, acknowledging it does not give it more power, in fact by facing it you are more able to do something about it. Be mindful to separate out thoughts and feelings. Thoughts are what you worry is going to or will potentially happen, feelings are how you feel about these things. We don’t necessarily have control over what is going to happen, but by honouring our feelings and choosing different we can change how we feel.
Right now, I FEEL like I am in limbo, I feel unrooted, I feel disconnected. I feel like I am waiting. My THOUGHTS are I am waiting for the schools to close, to be told I can not work again, to get ill, to be judged for getting ill, for restriction to be put in place that I do not support which will force action, I worry I am not strong enough to stand up for what I believe, I worry that I am wrong, I worry that I will do the wrong thing, make the wrong choice that will have a negative impact on others.
I FEEL helpless, overwhelmed with responsibility, judged.
Now, my go to is to examine the thoughts and feelings, flip statements and work out action and desired feelings from the muddle I have written down.
I feel unrooted, in limbo, disconnected, helpless, overwhelmed and judged- well that is not a barrel of laughs! So, flip it: I want to feel connected, grounded, powerful, strong and accepting. Notice that none of these feelings include happy, and that is because happy is not really a true feeling, it is a state you will be in once you feel all the other things.
What actions can I take to make me feel these things? Because although I don’t have power to control all the things I worry about I do have the ability to take action to feel the way I desire to feel.
Connection-for me this comes from open conversation and friendship. So, I message my friends, I talk to my husband, I reply to posts on the socials that inspire me or that I am moved by, I listen and observe, I breathe, I blog! I actively make choices that connect me to others-it can feel vulnerable but I do it and it connects me.
Grounded- I take a minute to stop and look, look for that which is around me, I breathe deep, I meditate, I slow down, I eat and drink mindfully and healthily, I get my hands dirty, planting seeds and bulbs, painting and creating.
Powerful – I write, I help others, I open my heart.
Strong- I allow myself to be vulnerable.
Accepting – I catch myself on my own internal dialogue. Whenever I am fearing judgement I look to places where I have perhaps been judgemental, I call myself out on my own bullshit. I work with hooponopono to bring in the energy of forgiveness to be able to open myself up to empathy and understanding. It is a far better energy than that of harsh judgement.
And once I have done all of these things and lifted myself out of my current state, then I can put on some music and have a kitchen rave, then I can belly laugh with friends, only then does the happy happy list truly work its magic.
Dark and light, yin and yang, without one you cannot truly experience the other. Go deep, it will propel you higher and brighter every time.
If you would like more support with unpicking your own stories, in exploring that darker side so you can feel bigger and brighter I offer in person and online holistic coaching. Intuitive to your needs, not prescriptive and generalised. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07941 511 819 to discuss your needs.