When women come to see me for life and career coaching or homeopathy, I often find myself saying, “ You really do deserve to be happy.” With this statement I often receive a perplexed expression as their reply. Such a simple and somewhat obvious statement, but surprisingly for many women, it rings distant from their reality.
Their confused stare translates to, “Really? But how can this be? How could that actually happen? True happiness seems so far from my life that I honestly have no idea how to get there.”
I don’t mean that all women are walking around miserable. Far from that. However, deserving to be happy can have many connotations. It can mean the opportunity to have all they desire in life, to reach their dreams or to be completely fulfilled and content right where they are.
Many women tell me they remember having dreams and longings at some point in their lives, but over time, have lost touch with these aspirations. At this junction, these desires seem more like fantasies. Many women have expressed to me that they feel so trapped within their circumstances that happiness has meant settling, or making the best of what they really do not want.
Why is this so? And how did this happen? Is it a message we have unconsciously inherited from our mothers that says, “This is the best you’ll get or the best you can do, so deal with it”? Is it ideology from Cinderella and Superwoman gone astray? Or has it been the many disappointments in love, a dead-end quest for a dream career or never making it past surviving on a month-to-month income while juggling the responsibilities of home, work and family? Or maybe one has a great job, but it leaves no time for anything but the job? And the push for all of this has left many women feeling overwhelmed, lost and just plain tired.
Somewhere in the search, without their awareness, complacency has snuck in and taken hold. One day, they find themselves whispering under their breath that it is easier to accept what is in front of them, rather than continue the seemingly arduous journey toward the dream. Many have found a way to manage within the boundaries of this acceptance and even find a sense of safety and security in its clutches.
This is the definition of settling, and many of us have taken this road at one time or another. We settle in unhealthy relationships with partners that we know are not our true match. We settle in the work that we are either over qualified for, or we allow fear to hold us back from having the gratifying dream career we always wanted.
That would all be fine, I suppose. Except these same women tell me that there is this deep inkling inside, nothing they can really get a handle on, but a feeling that there has got to be more than this. It is also this inkling that has kept them feeling frustrated along with intermittent moments of yearning for fulfillment after periods of giving up on it altogether.
The main culprit in what I call the Settling Syndrome, is “fear” in one form or another. You may relate to some of these scenarios:
· Fear that this is the best that there is, so I better hang onto what I have.
· Fear that I may fail, so why should I try.
· Fear that I cannot do it perfectly, so therefore I am not capable.
· Fear of what others may think of me for leaving my safe and secure circumstance for a silly risk or pipe dream.
The unwillingness to face any of these fears is often what keeps women in situations that do not move them to their potential. This leaves them feeling bored, resentful, and stuck rather than experiencing a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and full heartedness.
The reality is that the fear will lessen tremendously after one begins to make the necessary changes to remove themselves from their current unfulfilling circumstance. The steps it takes to initiate the new direction are the hardest. They may require that you dig deep for some courage. However, once you initiate the steps toward your new path, the fear will begin to diminish and you will wonder what you were so afraid of after all. It is by taking action that this fear will begin to subside. Your trepidation will not diminish by choosing to stay stuck, while trying to think your way out of it. The combination of courageous thought and forward action are the most powerful duo that can open the doors to all kinds of wonderful new possibilities.
You don’t have to jump off a bridge and make major changes in your life all at once. That would be too daunting to most. I suggest taking baby steps, which I call Mini-Feats™, and instead, build a bridge to your new life. Just three small action steps each day and, before you know it, you will have accomplished miles of positive movement.
The other culprit in the Settling Syndrome is the absence of direction toward a new path.
It is hard to know what better path to take next when you do not know what your options are. Or you may know the options, but have no idea how to get there. You may even feel that you have knocked on every door possible and have not found a good fit, or one that would even open. Then, of course, that familiar frustration and self-doubt start to creep in and, once again, you quit.
Unless you have had positive guidance from a family member, a coach, mentor, teacher or friend that can show you possibilities outside of your own personal experience, how would you know that there are wonderful possibilities within reach? If you have only been influenced by people that have had unhealthy or mediocre relationships, or are unsatisfied with their careers, what would be the inspiration for you to move beyond settling? How would you even know what direction to take or how to even get started? This has nothing to do with intelligence or capability. It is what all of us needed as children; and at times in adulthood. Someone to help show us the way.
To have a direction means that you know where you are headed. If you have not had someone to help guide you in some way, it may be hard to see that there are many possibilities for uplifting your life situation. You may have always thought, “Happy, prosperous and stimulating lives are for other people, not me.” I am here to tell you, this is not the truth.
If this scenario has been your state of affairs, I suggest you reach out to a mentor, or support system that is not emotionally involved in your situation. One that has experience and can be an impartial coach to open some windows to new options, and then help steer you in the right direction in any aspect of your life. By realizing there are options, you will begin to feel hopeful. And hope will give you a sense of freedom. And ahhhhhhhh…….freedom feels so good.
And remember, don’t ever settle or give up on yourself in any area of your life, because you do deserve to be happy.