Irritated or Unhappy? Try this quick fix
Do you ever just feel crummy or irritated about something? Like your job, or personal relationship or an account? Something that usually does not bother you, but then suddenly it does? Maybe all of a sudden you feel as though you made a bad career choice, or that you now HATE your cubicle neighbor. Popular wisdom tells us to go to our “happy place” ASAP and not dwell on things we cannot change. Instead, why not try to see your irritability as a gift? Try these three steps:
- Encourage more of it. Yep, ask yourself for more complaints. In my coaching business, I call it, “going to the ugly.” The Buddhists say, “Lean into it the suffering,” which sounds much nicer. But the advice is the same—embrace your unhappiness. It feels counter-intuitive but it works. You cannot make any real progress until you get in touch with all of the ugly truth from your own perspective. After all, it is the only perspective that really matters since YOU are the one who is unhappy at the moment.
- Find out what is really bothering you. The thing that is really bothering you is almost never, ever the thing that started you down this path and it is very important that you find out what the true source of your irritation is. We humans are a complicated bunch, and often what starts out as one feeling becomes something else entirely. Dig a little deeper and keep asking. Trust me, when you stumble upon what you are really feeling, you will know it. Until that time, keep digging. There is a gift in there for you—something you need to know. You will feel a slight sense of relief when you realize what “it” really is.
- Commit to a conclusion. Going to the ugly is good, and the digging is good, but you are not allowed to stay there indefinitely. If you stay there, you will become a very stuck/angry person and nobody wants that. Instead, as part of the process, give yourself a day or two to do the above (maybe a week) but also make the commitment that you will come up with some conclusion. Then, take action based on that conclusion, or make a conscious decision to do nothing. Either way, you will feel dramatically different than you did when you started this process—I promise! You may discover that you don’t actually hate your cubicle partner but you do need to talk to your housemate about the fact that he is 6 months past due on moving out—so take action on that front and move on.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” M. Scott Peck