How to be grateful when feeling unfulfilled.Jul 31, 2022
Permitting yourself to admit you feel unfulfilled is difficult. The “attitude of gratitude” culture tells us we aren’t grateful enough. If you have a good job, relationships, etc., there isn’t room for feeling unfulfilled. Start a gratitude journal.
Gratitude is very important, but limiting yourself to either gratitude OR contentment isn’t being truthful to your own experience. It is possible to be grateful AND allow yourself to notice and feel unfulfilled. Both are possible at the same time.
I had this limiting belief that if I acknowledged my discontent, I was being ungrateful and selfish. So I saw my unfulfilled feelings as a problem rather than information. Unfulfilled is a feeling that I was able to notice and respond to. When put in the context of a feeling, it shifted it from something I was doing wrong to just something I felt.
Feeling unfulfilled lets me know that something is out of alignment. I’m not selfish and do not need to shame myself. Instead, I needed to explore where in my life where I’m not living aligned with my values. Because that’s what feeling unfulfilled means; it means an aspect of my life is out of alignment.
Noticing feelings is a tremendously freeing experience. Feelings are visitors. They come, stay a while and go. But when we take on the emotion as part of our identity is when it becomes a problem. Feelings should inform our actions, not hold us back. Feelings (emotions) allow us to experience life at the deepest, most expansive level.
And when I felt unfulfilled, I began to shift and take action instead of judging. My responsibilities at work were often in conflict with my values. So I began to pivot bit by bit. My journey was winding and long. Here are three things I learned you can use right now, saving you time and moving you from feeling unfulfilled to unstoppable.
Flip gratitude on its head and reflect on how grateful you are that you’re experiencing discontent. It means that you value yourself and your life and want to live a life that feels congruent with what matters most to you. When you stop struggling against unfulfillment, you’ll feel more at peace rather than judging your feelings.
Make time for values work on your own or with a professional coach or therapist. Identifying your values will help you identify where you can pivot. Internal discontent, and disagreements with others, are a clash of values.
Bring the pressure down from “I must make radical change” to pivots. Even a 1% pivot is meaningful. 10% change seems like an insignificant change, and 10% feels like a giant leap, but 1% at a time over a year means you get your desired result without triggering your threat system (amygdala & fight/flight/freeze)
And when you put those three steps together, you will feel unstoppable. When you experience an emotion, you can be grateful, notice it and see where it aligns or conflicts with values, and then intentionally make a pivot. You don’t need to be ashamed of feeling unfulfilled even when you have more than others; you can be grateful and continue looking for ways to live your life more aligned with what matters most.
Feeling unstoppable puts you in a position to try new things. It eliminates the fear of failure and makes learning and growth the focus. You can experience any feeling, including unfulfillment, and notice without judgment. You can be grateful and allow emotions to come and go. All of this helps you live a life you love.
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