Building a Life of Happiness and Fulfillment

Just a couple of years ago my idea of a successful and happy life consisted of always making sure the boxes were checked…

  • □Maintain household;
  • □Children are fed, clothed, bathed, etc.;
  • □Personal appearance (be thin, makeup on, well dressed);
  • □High work quantity and quality;
  • □Social status in good standing (lots of friends and engagements);
  • □Be involved in community (church, volunteer, board member).

If I could keep all of these boxes checked all of the time I would be happy and successful.

During this time, I was in a relationship that was toxic and my life was total chaos. I was afraid for anyone, including myself, to see how much of a mess and truly chaotic my life was. I lived this life in a mirage for many years and wore a costume and mask that showed the perfect life. I was unwilling, and really felt unable, to look at my emotions or to allow anybody else to see. The place I was in was leading toward catastrophic outcomes.

One day, I was hit hard with a reality check. I had been in a toxic place for years and thoughts of needing change had been surfacing for a few months prior to the final blow. I realized, with the help of a few true friends, that I could no longer continue in the life I was leading for the sake of myself and my daughters. After much thinking, praying, and planning, I decided to make a change. I took an honest look at my emotions, my sacrifices, and my daily ‘checkboxes’. I decided to step out of my mirage and into reality. I decided to remove my costume and mask allowing myself and others to see me as the chaotic mess I am.

Making a life change is pretty scary. Do you know what is scarier? Regret.”


It was scary… I didn’t know who I was and I had no idea what was going to work for my life. I just knew that checking my boxes was not leaving me feeling happy or successful. I didn’t know what I wanted or what brought me true life. I just started doing; I accepted every opportunity for life experience that came my way. It was amazing the things that I started to see and be a part of. I began taking road trips with no destination, having long vulnerable conversations with someone who loves me, not the mask I had worn. My life became full of curiosity. I began to feel alive and creating more memories and experiences that filled my soul.

How did I get to such an unhappy place to begin with? I have a strong sensitivity to influence. I strive to make others happy and to fit with society. Strive for perfection, don’t have feelings, be good, keep it together. I felt that I wasn’t worthy of love or acceptance unless I acted or looked a certain way. I felt that I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t excel in school. I felt I was letting others down if I didn’t have high performance at work and utilize my skills and finances to help others. I wasn’t attractive if I was a certain weight. I had allowed myself to be conditioned to strive for things and perfectionism that truly doesn’t exist or even matter in the big picture.

I had a voice in my head for quite some time telling me, “This isn’t the life you are meant to live; what are you doing?” I suppressed the voice and did everything I could to shut it up. I justified to myself that I am doing the right thing in maintaining ‘normalcy’ (whatever that is) for my daughters and to keep their routine. I didn’t think I was ready for change. The thought of it was uncomfortable. I hate being uncomfortable and avoid that feeling at all costs. I came to a place that the pain of my everyday life cut so deep and I realized nothing could be worse than staying in the place I was. I was terrified.

I began to open my thoughts about what could go wrong and compare them to what amazing things my life could hold. Resistance was definitely there as my inner voice wouldn’t stop, “You’re not good enough, What if you fail?” I knew that if I continued to listen to this voice I would remain paralyzed in a life that I felt I could no longer endure.

I am learning how to look at feelings differently. Negative emotions aren’t always bad; sometimes they are messengers.

  • Anger, if utilized constructively can show passion. If you study where the anger is coming from and what drives it, positive change can result.
  • Jealousy can be a messenger for inspiration. Determine where it comes from, harness it and set into action moving toward a goal of what the jealousy was about.

In order to be happy in life, you must feel and process negative emotions. When you suppress negative emotions for too long, it leads to misery. Unfortunately, this was something that I had perfected.

There are three steps to processing negative emotions according to Amber Rae:

  • Name it to tame it: name as vividly as possible the thoughts that accompany and any body sensations that are present. With worry, we are in the past or in the future. Naming and exploring brings us to the present. Research shows this alone can reduce our worry by up to 50%.
  • Talk to it: Emotions visit us. We don’t usually ask for negative emotions to come into our day or situation. They show up whenever they feel like it. When they decide to visit, have a ‘dialogue’ with them. It is our responsibility to find out why the emotion is present. An example would be sadness. We need to ask “Why are you here? What do you want me to know?” It is important to acknowledge the emotion and search for an understanding of its purpose.
  • Take action: This could be in the form of setting a boundary or making a request. An example of perfectionism, which is one I continue to work on, would be “I appreciate you wanting high quality work. I do too. Go play in the sun.” Another example is sadness, “I appreciate your gift and your reason for being here. I release you.”

In applying these three steps, you will acknowledge the emotion, determine its purpose, and allow it to lessen or leave completely by turning a negative emotion in to a messenger for something positive and constructive. This is key to ensuring that your emotions are a part of you and you do not let them overcome you.

Our lives are determined by the story we tell ourselves. Often this is limiting and disempowering. It holds us back and prevents us from trying new things and taking risks. Through my journey and over the past two years I am editing my story from a story that I am unworthy of love and happiness to a story that allows me to genuinely be me. I am messy, crazy, vulnerable, and fully worthy of love and a fulfilling life.

Be honest with yourself, even when it is scary and uncomfortable.

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