Why Does It Feel Like Something Is Missing?
By Steven Howell, MA Licensed Professional Counselor
Isn’t it odd that, after gaining so much of what we wanted in life, we still wonder what’s missing? I mean, as people, don’t we just expect to be happy and content when it seems we’ve been able to get everything in place? Sure, it takes some time and hard work, but you made it! You have the family, career, home, vacations, cars that you always wanted. What gives?
Most of us know that well-structured lives and achieving our goals will not ultimately make us happy, yet we can’t help but wonder what is missing. It feels tantalizingly close. It’s like having some piece of information on the tip of your tongue but knowing you just can’t retrieve it. It’s aggravating!
Uneasiness: A Universal Feeling
The first thing you need to understand is that it is perfectly normal to struggle with a sense of uneasiness even after accomplishing much of what you set out to achieve. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is horribly wrong! All of us are uncomfortable and frustrated at various times in our lives. Often it means that we have perceptions or expectations that need to be tweaked. What does NOT help is to overanalyze our situation. Self-diagnosis also doesn’t work. That’s what a therapist can provide: objective eyes on your situation. Besides, if we could think our way into comfort, don’t you think it would have worked by now?
Another mistake many of us make is simply trying to avoid this sense of uneasiness. You know what I mean; pushing it away, giving hyper-focus to our favorite hobby, drinking too much or whatever else will simply help us feel good enough to temporarily forget that which we don’t understand.
Don’t Invent Explanations
Instead of avoiding or trying to deny it, why don’t you find out what this annoying sense is trying to tell you! That’s right, I said it. We’re so concerned that a sense of uneasiness, or even boredom, might mean that perhaps we made some decisions along the way that weren’t the best for you. We invent reasons, such as, “Maybe where I’m living is the problem. Maybe I just regret that career decision. Or maybe, if my spouse or kids were just a little more of this or that, THEN I would be all right!” Nope. In all likelihood, you are jumping to conclusions that can be destructive to your life if you dwell on them for too long.
Instead, Be Courageous
Remember, your courage helps you navigate difficulties in life. It has helped you stand up to circumstances and people that have appeared to stand in the way of your goals, after all. And it is using this same courage that you can face that annoying sense that you have missed something or have made an irreparable mistake. Examine what this sense MEANS: only then will you know how to repair it. This is how I see many people’s experience in therapy; that of looking at that nagging sense that something is off right in the eye and asking the questions that you need answers to. It is both my occupation and privilege to talk with you while you learn to ask the questions and own the life you have. You can try to ignore this reality. But a better option is to grow from it and make the most out of every season of your life.