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How to cope when your job's a joke, you're broke and your love life is DOA

Updated: May 18, 2022

Here is a little bit about me. I’m in my 30s, I have never had a long-term relationship, I am not married, I have no children and I don’t own my own house. You might be reading this and think, ‘crikey, this woman hasn’t got her shit together. I’m not going to see her for therapy!’. This is fair if those things are what you see as ‘having your shit together’.

For me, ever since I stopped chasing those things, I’ve been much happier. I focus on what I want and don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. I am focussed on my own journey and not the expectations that others have from me.

So many people I know compare themselves to others and beat themselves up for being a certain age and not being married or not having kids. When I look at my close friends, I am the only one out of my friendship group that isn’t a homeowner. Do I beat myself up for this and tell myself I am a failure?

Honestly, no. I don’t feel that having a house, a husband or a kid is going to miraculously make my life amazing or fill some sort of a void. I’m doing okay without those things. Sure, I get the desire. I would love to have my own house and I would love to have a partner. Not so much the kid thing for me, as I am very happy to be childfree, but I do very much understand the desire people have to have children.

The thing about desires are they are just that; they are hopes and dreams of what we want from life. But life isn’t a fairytale. We don’t always get the things we want. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hoped and we have to make do with what we get. Does this lead to disappointment? Of course it does! I’m no stranger to rejection. I’ve been estranged from my family for years, I’ve been trying to date for years have been rejected on several occasions and there have been jobs I’ve really wanted that I’ve been turned down for.

Not getting the things you want, hurts. The thing is, hurt and disappointment are inevitable in life. To avoid feeling hurt, we would have to never want anything. We would have to never work toward anything. That won’t lead to a fulfilling life, so of course we need to move towards the things we want (house, family, job etc). The main point I want to make is that they are things to work towards.

Will I have a house at some point? I’d like to think so. Will I have a partner one day? I hope so. Are these things going to take over my life to the point I can’t focus on anything except the fact that I don’t have them? Absolutely not. Instead, I work on being the best version of myself that I can, I take actions that will help me get those things one day and I enjoy living in the present moment until I get there.

Now I wasn’t always quite as chilled about these things. Having initially trained as a CBT Therapist I very much believed pretty much everything was in my control, until I realised it isn’t. That’s when I discovered Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), which changed my life, and I hope it can change yours too.

If you are finding yourself stuck, obsessing about what you don’t have and what you want, consider what your life will look like in 5 years time (or on your deathbed if you prefer the dramatic effect). Will you look back and be glad you spent all that time thinking about how much of a failure you are for not having those things, or will you wish you embraced life as it was and lived the best life you possibly could at that time, despite not quite reaching what you had wanted?

You will notice something about me. I don’t say things like ‘happy life’ or ‘life that you want’. This is because I believe we don’t always get the life we want, or that we can be happy all the time. I use terms like meaningful life or fulfilling life, and by this, I mean the best lives we can have, based on the circumstances we are in. Of course, we can change some of our circumstances, but there are many we can’t change; childhood trauma, adult trauma, infertility, bereavement, a worldwide pandemic, to name a few. If you have been through or are going through these things, you might find it useful to get some help that will help you work towards a life that includes those things that you don’t’ want, instead of living a life that is only focussed on those things. Trying to fight against circumstances outside of our control often leads to us focussing on them even more, unable to live any sort of life that feels worth living, consumed by grief and disappointment. Instead, we can make room for these difficult emotions alongside living the most meaningful life we can.

Not sure how to do this? I can show you the way.

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