Many clients coming into therapy for the first time express to us, “I’m here because I just want to be happy”. Sounds straightforward, right?
Think about a time when you were happy — maybe it was a great day at the beach, a special moment with your partner, or a celebration of an important milestone. That happiness was probably a great feeling… but, it’s not something that you feel all of the time.
Too often people are unsatisfied or disappointed with life due to the unrealistic expectation that they should be having a constant feeling of ecstatic joy in order to make their lives worthwhile. Our capitalist culture encourages that notion by constantly encouraging us to get more, consume more, complete more, achieve more.
Happiness is overrated — here are some examples of goals for therapy that can yield more fruitful, satisfying results.
Sometimes work is dull. There’s always some kind of drama on family vacations. Most of us have some kind of insecurity that’s hard to shake, despite carefully crafted positive affirmations.
That being said — you can still have a great life, even with its imperfections. Life’s little annoyances are tolerable. Practicing letting go of the things that aren’t truly important or are out of the sphere of your control can bring you a great deal of peace.
Managing painful feelings
Not only is life sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes it downright hurts. Loved ones pass away. We experience rejection and betrayal. Sometimes we feel lost and confused. We can go through intense emotions such as anger or shame.
Ignoring these experiences doesn’t stop them or make them go away. In fact, denying the pain you feel is likely to make it worse. Building the skills to cope with tough times and to lean on others for support will help you move through difficult emotions, instead of just pushing them away or covering them up.
Imagine a beautiful, vibrant painting composed with a myriad of different colors and shades. Now, imagine the same painting, but with all of the colors deleted, except for your favorite color. Granted, it’s nice to see your favorite color. But isn’t the painting so much less rich without all the other colors in it?
When you’re not fully present with the wide spectrum of life’s experiences, you miss experiencing the entirety of the painting. Checking out of feelings that don’t fit in the narrow definition of happiness ultimately leads to a surface level experience of life.
Learning to stay present can help you appreciate more of the present moment, and everything it contains.
Search for meaning and purpose
What do you care about? What are your values? When you look back on your life, what will be the point of it all?
Find something deeper than fleeting feelings to guide your decisions and actions. That stronger level of commitment is more likely to keep you moving forward and motivated to be present when uncomfortable or painful emotions arise.
Doing the work
Accepting things that are hard and forging through life anyway is easier said than done. We can support and guide you in building the tools you need — just click the button below to schedule a free initial consultation and learn more. We’d love to share more about how therapy can help you move past limited and limiting goals and ideas and start building a more fulfilling life.