Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Finding More Joy: What You’re Not Noticing

Most of us suffer from a kind of self-hatred. And it usually takes shape in the form of an endless desire to improve ourselves or our situation.

For example. 

We may feel resentful for not having enough money to do and buy the things we want. We may feel cheated for not having the right looks to attract a sexy mate. And we might hold a grudge against our parents for not being good to us.  

These hardships obviously don’t stop us from wanting love, recognition and luxury. So we engage in activities that we think will help us reach these goals. 

“Perhaps if I work long grueling hours, my boss will see my worth.” “Perhaps if I’m funny, women will see my worth.” “Perhaps if I’m successful, my parents will see my worth.”

Although some are more healthy than others, you can agree that these are all natural trains of thought. Right?

The trouble with fixating on improvement is that it fosters an attitude of dissatisfaction. You’re subtly telling yourself you can’t relax until everything is just right. And that more things are wrong rather than good.

That’s how you end up white knuckling your way through life.

Upgrading your circumstances clearly isn’t bad. It gets us ahead in the Darwinian struggle. Plus, accomplishing stuff makes us feel good. 

But since progress is so addictive, it easily makes you lose sight of all the wonderful things you already have. Inside and out.

And I’m not just talking about the standard ‘be grateful for what makes you happy’ drivel. That’s easy. If you struggle to be thankful for warm meals, kind friends, and a roof over your head, you’re way down shit creek and I can’t help you.

I’m referring to all the remarkable things that most people typically run away from. Such as feelings of jealousy, embarrassment, loneliness, anger, and sadness. 

That’s all marvelous stuff. 

We might not experience them as fun in the moment, but these challenging feelings are precisely what connect us to everyone else on the planet. If you can muster the courage and curiosity to truly look at yourself, you’ll discover that you’re just as annoying, scared and disappointing as all the other people out there.

Take anger. You might get angry while waiting to enter a roundabout when none of the other drivers are using their turn signals, or when people don’t listen to you. 

But can you honestly say that you always use your turn signal in traffic and listen well to others?

And what about criticising. Perhaps you silently judge caretakers who chastise their kids and dogs in public. But do you really only ever think positive things about your morally pure kids or pets? Or do you on rare occasions have to hold yourself back from yeeting them out the door?

Maybe it’s just me.

But I catch myself doing or wishing for things that I can’t stand in others all the time. And at first, it sucks. It makes me feel like a big, stinky hypocrite. But once I can be kind to myself, I no longer have an excuse to disapprove of others for the same thing.

And that’s a wonderful development.

Being compassionate means seeing yourself in others.

So if you can make friends with your shitty feelings, thoughts and behaviours, you’re also making friends with everyone else who’s going through the same thing. 

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach