Define The Life You Long to Live By Karyn Hall, PhD

When you are emotionally sensitive your emotions can rule your life. The more painful emotions exhaust and drain you, sometimes to the point that your days are about avoiding hurt rather than living your life.  You may dread the mornings and crave isolation though at the same time you are lonely and hate that you think you don’t belong.  You may be sad or constantly tired. You may decide there is something wrong with you that you can’t deal with issues and be content like others seem to be able to do, so why try? At some point you may find that you have focused on emotions such as hurt, resentment, grief, and fear that you no longer think about the life you want to lead. You get lost in the pain and lose sight of your goals and dreams.

In your heart of hearts what is the life that you long for?*  How do you wish you spent your days? Knowing where you are going helps you stay on track and moving forward even when times are difficult. Knowing the goal helps you make decisions that take you closer to your goal. If you truly want longtime friendships and that is part of what will make your life content, then when a disagreement arises with a friend you may be less likely to let that destroy the relationship, even for a day. You may be more likely to repair relationships and pay attention to keeping friendships active. Can you describe in detail the life that you yearn for?  Over the next few posts I’ll outline some of the areas to consider. The list won’t be complete because I can’t know what is important to you. I’ll describe a few categories and you can add whatever you need to add. Write down your inner most wishes in each category without censoring them. When you’ve finished writing about all the categories, you can then choose where you want to start in moving toward the life you truly desire in your heart of hearts. First, let’s consider the work you do.

Career/Work:  Does the work you do pay an important part in your contentment? For some, work is a way of contributing to the world and thus brings contentment and meaning to life. For others work provides a sense of mastery–they like knowing they are good at what they do. For others, their employment is a way of paying the bills and is mainly a way of maintaining the basics. The job is necessary to the life they want to lead, but is not part of the higher levels of contentment and perhaps joy.

Perhaps you long to be in a different line of work.  You’d love to be a fireman or teacher. While the work you do now is only to pay the bills, you know in that place where you just know the absolute truth that a different career could add satisfaction and meaning to your life. Let go of the idea that you are stuck. Think about how you could possibly change your career in a realistic way or have a similar experience to the one that is your dream.

If you need more education to do what you wish, then how can you take the first class? Yes, it would likely be a lot of work and sacrifice. But if changing your career is something you know is the absolute right choice for you then do what it takes and do what is possible right now. Doing whatever is possible right now will help lead you closer to what you want, even if it is a tiny step, and open up more opportunities later on.

What if your dream seems like an unrealistic long shot with no clear and certain path to make it happen?  Maybe you want to be a famous author or actress. Maybe you want to have the number one selling album on the soul music charts. The cost of pursuing these dreams can be high. Struggling to make it in the arts is not easy, but he cost of not pursuing dreams can also be high. What do you want to do?  If you want to pursue this dream, what is the next or first step for you to take?

Maybe you are drawn to a certain career but don’t really want to pursue it.  What it is about a certain career that draws you?  Do you have a love of music that fills your very being with happiness? Do you need admiration and/or recognition for who you are?  Do you love to take on different roles and lose yourself in a pretend world?  Be flexible in your thinking. Perhaps community theater, while not the same as being a famous actress, could help fulfill your passion for acting. Maybe singing in a local choir could fulfill your love of music. Consider alternatives that might work well for you and be a better balance for you.

If you’ve decided that making changes in the work you do is part of creating the life you long to live, write down the steps you need to take.  Then list the pros and cons of this change. Will you have to adjust your budget or even save money for a long time in order to pursue what you want?  Will you have less time for friends?  Will you need to tolerate being judged by others?  Look at what can get in the way and write down ways you will deal with these challenges. Remember to think carefully about the pros of what you are doing now. Those are sometimes easy to overlook. Completing this step helps evaluate if you truly want to make the change and the difficulties in doing it. If you still want to go forward, then this change in your work becomes a part of your life plan. If not, then you consider other areas that may be more important to you.

Changes in your environment will be the next area of possible change that I’ll discuss. I look forward to your suggestions and comments.

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