You don’t need permission to be unhappy. And your long list of logical reasons why you “should be” fulfilled won’t change that you’re not.
You can recognize your privilege and feel gratitude while acknowledging that you’re stuck and dissatisfied.
Stop pressuring yourself to instantly shake free from years’ worth of glue. You didn’t get here overnight. However, it IS your responsibility to slowly start climbing out of your rut.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- The discrepancy between how others perceive you
- How to shed the shame of what you “should” feel
- How to eliminate the guilt and stigma of asking for help
- 5 easy steps to begin breaking free today
- And more
It’s not just about you.
You’re stealing the true, best version of yourself from the people around you. When you feel stuck, it blocks your authentic self and your family, friends, and colleagues interact with your inferior imitation. Don’t you owe them (and yourself) better?
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I’m a solution oriented coach and Intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
“Rigid and defensive.”
Those are the two words that my work colleague used about me.
She described me as rigid and defensive.
So for any of you who’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour who know me personally, you’re going to say “What? Are you kidding me Sundae? How did she come up with rigid and defensive?”
In all fairness, this was 20 some years ago long long time ago my very first corporate job. We were in line at some water park, I was working for a consulting firm and I was with my team, the senior manager, another manager on the team and a fellow analysts for this consulting firm I was working for, and I talked about how I see myself and she said “Really? I see you as rigid and defensive.”
And it stopped me in my tracks. It was the very first time in my life where the perception I had of myself was very different from the perception I gave to someone that was working with, and in all fairness she was right.
She was right because at that time of my life, I was super unhappy and what I was doing is, I was completely ignoring the best of who I was, and I let out all of the things that were strengths that became weaknesses.
So it was a wake-up call for me, rigid and defensive is not something that I want to be known for.
Flash forward to recently, I was visiting with a family member and my family member who is someone in my extended family who is kind of known for saying things that are direct and a little bit shocking, said to me essentially “Why aren’t you chubby anymore?” And I’m paraphrasing here, but I looked at this person and I was like, “Oh” Not thinking that I used to be chubby. I gave him a direct answer of “Oh, I’ve lost weight because of the investment I’ve made in my health.” And we were laughing at this because, one it was a question, the exact words were a question that took me off guard because it’s not the first thing you usually ask someone usually it’s like “Hey how is South Africa?” And the second thing we talked about is what has changed with me since I started taking care of my health, and one of the things that has changed is, as a total side thing, I’ve lost weight, which was never my intention, nor I don’t think was a real need. What happened is I start taking care of my health with a doctor that was able to identify some things that were missing nutritionally or in my biochemical makeup that helped me detoxify better and help my system altogether. I was working with an integrative specialist and as a result the inflammation reduced and I lost some weight, and it changed probably physically the way I looked and so that was a conversation.
We’re kind of laughing at the kitchen counter, you know framing how that felt when that question came up for me and being playful, and then one of my family members said, “You know, it is true Sundae, you have changed, things are different.” and I said “Well what differences have you noticed?” And my mother said, “Well, you’re more playful.” And I thought “Wow, really? That because I’ve started taking care of my health, my family notices that the playful side of me comes out more.” And that meant the world to me, and it was also a huge reality check.
So let me just see if I can share with you an example of playfulness. Oh my God, you guys are gonna laugh at me and judge me.
Okay, so here’s why my mom probably said I was a bit more playful. She caught me dancing the kitchen to this song while my brother was egging me on.
Peanut Butter Jelly Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRBOgtp0Hac
We had a huge laugh in my kitchen and my mom captured a playful side of me that came out, that probably she hasn’t seen in a while and it led to this idea of the implications that really taking care of myself has had on my health and how I show up in my business, with my friends, with my family and that impact that has on others. And I know right now you’re still judging me because I think the peanut butter and jelly song is funny.
This is who I am, and I love the peanut butter jelly song, so you gotta take it or leave it. I guarantee you’re going to be thinking about it all day long.
But the whole point of why I’m embarrassing myself for you is to say that I was unhappy with my health and because of that I noticed things were having an impact on my views was short, my skin changed, I didn’t feel as comfortable my clothing. And I finally went to the doctor and found out what was causing this sort of lag in health.
And the thing is when we fail to do that, when we fail to show up for ourselves so we can be deeply satisfied, we’re stealing, we are robbing ourselves and our family and our community of the best of you. Your strengths, your talents and your potential to make a positive impact in the world. And this silly example is just, without me taking care of me, my family doesn’t get the silly Sundae, then they don’t get the laughs if I’m not deeply satisfied with me, I rob myself of my own joy.
So it is time to stop robbing yourself and others of the best of you.
So let me stop you right there. there’s some of you are saying “Sundae, if I don’t do something that makes me happy it only impacts me.”
And I really want to make this clear throughout the entire episode that this has a much larger impact on just you, most of us want to serve our families, our spouses, our organizations, we really do. And we serve ourselves last, but that approach is actually robbing or sucking all of the potential out of the other areas over life because we’re not starting with us first.
So here’s an example I see all the time. I was at a party with a woman and we checked in. “Where do you live? How long have you been here?” The standard stuff. And she said, when I asked her how long she’d lived there, she said “Too long.” And I was like “Really? You’re not happy? Because we live in an amazing area, you have access to everything.” And she says “No I really want to go back home, and I try and try to keep myself busy, but I’m so sick of the coffee meetups, the PTA meetings.” Or whatever it is, that she just wants to go home, and she feels like she’s totally wasting your time.
And these are the moments where I want to just reach across the table and to say “Seriously, it doesn’t have to be this way.” And if you’ve ever thought that, that you’re wasting your time and you feel stuck and you really don’t see a way to make a change, I want to reach across the table and hold you by your shoulders lovingly and look at you in the eyes and say “It doesn’t have to be this way, you can be living a life where you’re so much happier and satisfied.” Because I see it all the time.
This is so important because when you ignore that voice inside, which is whispering or even screaming at you that you’re unsatisfied, that’s you feel stuck, you are honestly avoiding responsibility.
You are avoiding responsibility, you are responsible to give your best self to yourself, because if you don’t give your best self to yourself, you can’t do it for your family or for humanity or for your business, your clients, whatever that is.
And I know that because I’ve been stuck in rigid and defensive, I was not giving my best self to myself and the impact was others having to deal with my rigidity and my defensiveness.
Crap, huh? Like how much fun is that for them? I was denying myself of regular pleasures in nice foods and time to relax, I was just a workhorse who is go go go.
When you’re stuck in survival mode, you’re not dancing to the peanut butter jelly song, you know what I mean? So we are we are robbing ourselves of our best self, the one who can be playful and silly or creative or thoughtful or loving or generous, because we’re stuck in dissatisfaction, and I don’t want you to be stuck.
And when you’re stuck in that place of dissatisfaction, I know what you’re thinking because I see it come up over and over and over again. I’ve been doing this for ten years and these are the three things I keep hearing over and over again.
The first thing I hear is this, you know people don’t say it to me, but it comes out later in coaching where they say they truly believe that they don’t deserve to be unhappy.
Like “I don’t have a right to be unhappy because look around me.” You’ve got the loving partner, your children are healthy, you’ve got food on the table, you’ve got financial security.
“I don’t have a right to be unhappy.”
Which is so interesting because you are unhappy.
So this is the reality, but you feel like you don’t have the right to be.
The second thing I hear is “Wait a minute.” It’s very connected to the first one of not having the right to be unhappy people say, “There are so many other people on this planet that have it way worse than I do I should just be grateful.” So what that essentially does is ignores the way you feel and then you push that down, but I don’t even know if you practice gratitude for what you have. It’s like an excuse “Because other people have it worse than the planet, I am going to push away the way I really feel.”
We’re gonna go into each one of these in a little bit more detail, but I’m just giving the high level thing.
The third one is you feel super guilty when you even think about asking for help, so you feel like you have failed if you if you say to yourself “I need help.” It’s like you’re a failure or it feels self-indulgent.
And I can say for myself. I didn’t learn how to ask for help until I was thirty one and had a baby in an iron deficiency and I was exhausted and I got my dream job and I didn’t know how I could physically manage being a mom and my job, the iron deficiency, just getting a kid ready for daycare in the morning. All of that, it was just too much and it forced me to learn to ask for help and I had to break through the guilt of not being able to do it all on my own.
So if this is you, you are completely normal. I hear this all the time, if you’re saying “I don’t have a right to be unhappy right now, I should just be grateful because other people have it worse.” or you kind of feel self-indulgent or guilty for even thinking about asking for help then this is for you. I know that it can feel awkward or self-serving when you put your own satisfaction first.
I get it, but after years and years of trying to do it all on my own and watching my clients trying to do it all on their own, I’ve noticed a pattern. The truth is that when we hold on to these beliefs, you know about “This is self-indulgent, I don’t have a right, I should just be grateful.” And we hold onto those, you’re actually ignoring your responsibility to do what it takes to be deeply satisfied with your life, and then get on to do the things that you want to do to serve your family, your partnership, your community, this sense of social justice, whatever it is.
So it’s your responsibility to get unstuck.
And I tell you what, I did not know that for a long time, I didn’t know it until I was unstuck. I didn’t realize how me staying stuck in whatever pattern, I might have been stuck in all areas of my life, but there was an area of stuckness that I needed to work on. I didn’t realize until I was unstuck how much that was impacting everything else, robbing myself and my loved ones of the best of me.
So this is all about you, stop robbing yourself and others of the best of you.
And this is what I want you to walk away with.
What are you doing to get unstuck?
Are you taking responsibility to do so?
One of my clients, she was stuck, and after some work together we discovered that she was going to ignite her professional skills to do Feng Shui practice for individuals and organizations, and she went on to create calm in the lives and homes of individuals and organizations around the world. When she finally said yes herself to do something that’s deeply satisfying, she said yes to serving others. Didn’t mean she wasn’t scared, didn’t mean she didn’t have obstacles. But by saying yes to herself, she was able to give the best of herself to others.
Another client realized that what he really wanted was to stop chasing jobs and degrees and be present with his family. He had to sort of escape from the man cage as Dr. Martha Beck calls it, and say what he really wanted to be deeply satisfied, was to garden and cook with his kids. And by saying yes to being deeply satisfied, he took on a hands-on approach with his family, saved himself $35,000 from getting yet another master’s degree and was a super present father and partner.
Another of my clients is a highly skilled surgeon, because she’s committed to being deeply satisfied to really fully share her talents and strengths, she shows up more fully as a professional, as a mother and still has the energy to help community projects that impact underserved women around the world.
I hope that you’re getting this, that it’s not about you, like when you are focusing on being deeply satisfied, this is not self-serving. It is serving yourself first so that you can serve others.
And people block that, people don’t see that it’s “I am giving you permission to serve yourself first so that you can serve others.” And I think that’s really important for us to keep in mind, this is not about you and it’s about you at the same time. This is about you so that you can be your best for yourself and for others, and let’s be honest, it’s already enough to just do it for yourself because you’re worth it and you deserve it and you’re worthy of loving yourself. And I know that when people are in this pattern, it’s like they need to break the pattern, they need something outside of themselves to stay motivated. And I know that for me when I get stuck, when I’m so sick of sharing my podcast or doing something on social media, I always have to step outside of myself and say “Listen, if one person listens to this and it makes a difference in their life it’s worth it, so let’s get over myself and do this for the greater good so that one person might be positively impacted.”
Okay, so I hope these examples help you see how it is high time for you to stop robbing yourself and others of the best of you.
Each one of these examples are of real people just like you, and they took the steps to be deeply satisfied, and had they not done that they would consistently rob themselves and their families and friends of their joy, of their brilliance, of their talents.
So you can take back responsibility for your life.
And I want to sort of address each of those sorts of lies we tell ourselves one by one to help you see how they’re showing up for you and what you can do differently, and each one of these beliefs I’ve seen in my own clients, and now they’re on the other side. So I’m over here you’re there and you’re stuck and you are thinking about the things that we’ve talked about, you identify with it, it resonates. And I’m over here, I’ve got my hands cupped like a megaphone and I’m going “Okay, come over here it’s beautiful, there is another side where you get to be deeply satisfied and experiment with and explore and discover all of your talents, you can have an impact.
So the first one we’re going to look at again is that “I have no right to be unhappy right now.” Remember, you might be telling yourself, “I have it all, healthy spouse, financial security etc.” And you feel like you’re just complaining and that you’re feeling guilty because you no longer feel like this adventure abroad is enough but it’s such a privilege, so why should you feel bad?
At the same time, if you have all of that going for you, if those things are covered, imagine the latent potential that you have to create for you and for others. So maybe that dissatisfaction, that unhappiness is like the universe going “You’ve got more, there are gifts there that are not unwrapped, go get them.” Right, like who are you to judge that you’re using your full potential? Who are you to say that you aren’t capable of doing more, who are you to say whether you’ve reached your limits of creativity and talent? I don’t know what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, but I try not to know more than the Universe. One of my friends is really spiritual and I told her “I do recognize how arrogant it is of me to think that I can control what I’m doing and that I am more creative than the universe, like sometimes I just want to let go and let the universe step in to sort of influence what the best plan is for me.
So here’s the thing if you’re unhappy maybe it’s because all of these other things are working and there’s more that has to be creative. There’s nothing wrong with valuing what you have, honoring that, acknowledging that, and then getting curious about what more you want out of your life.
So instead of saying “Do I have a right to be happy or unhappy?” You might think “Hey with all of this privilege, with all of this amazingness of going on in my life, I have no right to be unhappy right now, I have a right to be happy.”
But is that really serving you?
You know what? If you said “Hey, I have all of this going for me and I do have a right to be happy. What is it going to take for me to be happy? What more can I discover about myself, about my skills, about my talents, so that I don’t miss out on all of the amazingness that’s already there? How can I leverage this unhappiness to discover what more I’m ready to create in service of myself my family and others?”
So that’s the first belief I really want you to crack. “I have no right to be unhappy right now.”
Let’s shift that and look at what would happen if you were bent on being happy.
Second one is, “There are other people who have it way worse on the planet, I should just be grateful.”
You see how it’s so connected to the first one and I do know that gratitude is important, we know from you know research that pops up in Forbes that there are benefits to gratitude in terms of your psychological health, reducing your aggression, being more empathetic, sleeping better, self-esteem. Gratitude is super important.
However, I would say that’s not enough, if you are not feeling it right now, if you’re not happy and you’re grateful that does not change the condition for anybody else on this planet who has it worse than you. Your gratitude does not change the condition for someone who has it worse than you. So let’s not confuse those two. Gratitude, yes, and if you’re using that as your argumentation about people have it way worse than you, then let’s tap into your talents and strengths and do something. And having lived in Burkina Faso I saw how hard women worked every day just to feed their children. And for me, I looked around at the expat community who had massive privilege and the discrepancy between local women and expat women is mind-boggling. And for me, it reinstated my commitment of this potential, these talents cannot be for nothing. We need to use our talents and strengths so that we can feel empowered and then do work that has a positive impact on other people. So if your heart is there for people who have it way worse than you on the planet and you’re not tapping into your strengths and talents to make a difference, then that gratitude is not serving anyone.
So I don’t want to sound like I’m on my high horse here, What I’m trying to do is say, look at yourself, there’s so much potential there, you’ve so much to offer. What if you got unstuck, discovered that and then made it happen? It could be something really small that just brings joy into people’s lives or it could be something foundational where you are intervening in someone’s life in a major way. I don’t know what’s latent, but what if we found out.
So here we go if you truly want to make changes in your life, but you don’t know where to start or how to get unstuck, that is okay. Don’t pressure yourself, you are one step after the next, we need to make sure that you’re not being held back by the third belief. The third belief is “I feel guilty about even asking for help.” And as I said, I’ve been there it took me like iron depletion and necessity before I even learned to ask for help and get over the guilt and realize I wasn’t imposing on people if I was able to ask for help without conditions and without pressure.
So if you’re feeling guilty about asking for help, I would love for you to imagine yourself as your daughter or your best friend. If you were your daughter or your best friend or your son or your best friend, who was in the exact same position, would you shame them for even thinking of asking for help?
Would you shame them the way you shame yourself? Of course, you wouldn’t, but we do it to ourselves all of the time. I know the tape that I played in my head was, “I should do it all myself.” Or “If I have to ask for help I’m failing.” It’s just bull.
Ditching the guilt and taking steps forward, which might include asking for help, you do a few really important things. First you invest in yourself and your happiness and that affects everybody in your life. Just like the peanut butter and jelly song, if I wasn’t feeling good I wouldn’t have done the peanut butter and jelly dance in my kitchen and made my brother giggle. It’s like a gift that you share with your whole family, even though maybe that dance wasn’t really good. And once you get unstuck, you discover what you want to do that will have a positive impact on others, and this impact can extend to an entire community. And why would you deny those people that you care about a happier stronger more purposeful you.
We cannot deny that feeling strong and on purpose in your life really empowers you to be more of a service in a bigger way. Failing to do what it takes to be happy and deeply satisfied is stealing. You rob yourself your family and your community of the best of you, your strength, your talents and your potential to make a positive impact on the world.
And if you’re saying right now, “I don’t even know what my strengths are, I don’t know if I have talent, I don’t know if I have skills.” You don’t need to know right now, what I do know is they are there, they just have to be discovered, and not knowing what they are is what’s keeping you stuck from actually using them.
So here are five really simple things you can do right now to get unstuck.
One, just admit to yourself that something is off. Can you just say it to yourself? “Something is off and that’s okay.”
Two accept it without shame or judgment, admit that something’s off, accept it without shame or judgment because you’re normal, I work with others like this all the time.
Three, ditch the three beliefs I shared before, because they are holding you back. They’re keeping you stuck and ditching them might mean just knowing that you got them and then when they pop up not letting them make you stay frozen so to speak.
And four, commit to creating change by taking the first step, reach out to a friend, email me, do one thing that makes you feel great today.
The fifth one is one that’s really time-sensitive and I don’t want to miss out on it.
I’m holding a webinar on how to get out of a rut in July 2019.
So if you’re listening to the recording and it’s later than that, email me and I’ll send you the webinar. But I’m doing a workshop, interactive, online, live on how to get out of a rut, sharing with you the exact strategies I use with my clients when they’re feeling stuck and I would love to see you there. For those of you who have been a listener for a long time, I want to see your face, I want you to see my face. This is all audio this is all from one direction out and I don’t hear back from you. I would love for you to show up and be there, I want to get to know you and I want to say thank you for being part of the Expat Happy Hour community and love on you by giving you the best of my coaching in that live session.
So I’d love to see you there in that workshop “How to get out of a rut.”
I believe with my whole heart that you deserve to be happy and satisfied, and your family and community need your talents and your strengths. Even if you don’t know what those are yet, stop robbing others of the positive impact you can have in their lives and in the world.
And when you have a deep sense of happiness and satisfaction, you can be of better service to your loved ones, your community. So it’s really time to take back responsibility. Stop robbing others of all that you have to offer because you are just too important.
This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from Sundaebean.com
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour, thank you for listening.
This has been part of the four part series on expat quicksand. We’ve looked at connection, getting unstuck, looking ahead. We’re going to be focusing on purpose and direction. Thank you for being part of this journey, stay tuned for more and join me at the live workshop.
I’ll leave you with the wisdom of Winston Churchill. “We make a living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.”