The other day I remarked to my partner, I am really an unhappy person. This is not news obviously, but in the past I would just feel a pervasive sense of unhappiness without really knowing why. Recently I’ve begun to dug deeper within, trying to trace my chain and instinctive reactions, and I realised I have a million pre-programmed pathways to anxiety and despair.
I navigate the world as though I have the worst of luck. I am primed for terrible events happening to me. I think of people close to me dying, all the time. Everything seems to be my fault.
I didn’t actually realise it is not normal to think and feel like this all the time until recent years. It is amusing to tell my partner my long list of cascading worries and she just looks at me quizzically and sympathetically. On a side note, I think it is very intriguing and enlightening to be with somebody really different because there is this reoccurring realisation and reminder that one can really perceive and navigate the world very differently.
I wonder when did I start to fear life? When did I start to think of the world as full of giant sink holes? I don’t think I was ever a happy child but I don’t remember being an obsessive worrier until my 20s I think.
I don’t know how to untie my knots for now, except a mediocre attempt to meditate regularly, and going for therapy. And of course, reading a lot of books. I do think compared to my previous selves say 3, 5, 10 years ago I have made tremendous progress. It is just hard to remember to zoom out sometimes, and one can only hope that the daily work goes to somewhere.
Most of us don’t think of how many of our reactions to events are just automated conditioned responses. That was a liberating realisation for me: if something I thought was innate in me was actually a conditioned/programmed response, I could in time, learn to recondition myself.
I think it is restrictive to go through life expecting sadness and disappointment in every corner. I am depriving myself from a full experience of life. For a long time I was resistant to lifting my pervasive sadness because I thought that was my nature and I don’t think happiness should be the only preferred way of being. But I have grown to realise it is one thing to be sad because there is truly something to be sad about versus being unhappy because that is the filter my brain puts everything through. If I took away that filter just for a second I could see that things just are. I am the one labelling them or perceiving them to be threats. There are truly life-threatening situations in life, just not 90% of the time.
I am not looking to be happier. I don’t think the opposite of sadness is happiness. I think they are their own spectrums. All I want is to be at peace, to see things for what they really are, to not add unnecessary weight to them or to myself, to be able to interact and deal with things as they are, without magnifying or complicating them.
I feel tired all the time. I am starting to understand why. It is very tiring to live when every single little thing triggers a complex chain of reactions in me.
I want to live life from a position of clarity and stillness, not just a walking bunch of out-of-control, conditioned responses, driven by fear.