Unhappy? Maybe You Should Be

Source: Martinan / 123RF Stock Photo

If you’re blue, there’s a reason. What’s going on in your life right now? Are you feeling alone in a relationship with someone else? Is your job draining or dull? Do you walk around all day with an inner critic whispering in your ear?

“Unhappy” is not the same as “depressed.” The first describes an emotion. The second is the result of dysfunction in how emotions are processed. While being unhappy is a bummer, depression can be life-threatening.

People with severe depression can benefit substantially from medication, but too many of us who are merely unhappy end up reaching for a quick fix instead of exploring ways to actively change whatever isn’t going well for us.

Unhappiness is a clue.

It invites us to comb through our lives for potential areas of improvement. We may be unhappy with a job, a relationship, a living situation, or the way we feel about ourselves.

If any of those aren’t fulfilling, we’re supposed to be unhappy about it. Discontentment is a nudge from Nature to help us start making necessary changes.

Relationship Trouble

If you’re unhappy in your relationship, ask yourself the following question: What needs to change?

If the answer is “My partner,” you’ve just signed up for staying unhappy. Instead, follow these guidelines and BE the change you wish to see in the relationship.

Ask for what you want. Unless you’re dating a psychic, your partner can’t read your mind. There’s far too much needless suffering between people because of fear of speaking up, and expectations of mind-reading. So…

Work on your own communication skills. This includes being assertive, not aggressive, about asking for what you want. Assume your partner wants to please you. They’re with you, after all, so they must like you a little (!) If you like them, too, develop an active listening habit so you can be more responsive to their needs.

Go to couples counseling. If communication between you often goes badly, consider enlisting the help of a therapist. We all learn how to “do” relationships from our families of origin.  Sometimes we need to re-learn how to relate to important others in more effective ways.

Leave. If you’ve tried everything and your partner isn’t budging on meeting even your most reasonable expectations, you may be unhappy as long as you’re together. Breaking up is hard, even when the relationship is painful. But if you’re sure it’s right to leave, see my post on 6 Ways to Keep Yourself From Going Back.

If you’re unhappy, it’s a sign that something needs to change. Thank the unhappiness for shedding light on the problem. But if you’re depressed to the point where you can’t manage simple tasks, or if you find yourself thinking about suicide, please seek help immediately from a mental health professional.

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