Why does contentment feel like shit?Nov 09, 2023
This week I was meant to be filming something for TV. I can’t tell you any more than that because I signed an NDA, but yeah, I got given the opportunity to get my big ole face on the telly!
And on Sunday evening, three days before I was meant to fly to Sydney to film, I decided not to go.
There was, of course, a melt down of epic proportions before the decision was made and at one point we all wondered if my brain might melt out of my ears.
But all hail the lesson that was inevitably learnt - that the choices we have to make for our freedom and contentment often feel like sh*t.
It’s a paradox as sneaky as they come. And it’s keeping you trapped.
When I first got the email to say I was set to appear on this TV show that I can’t disclose, I was pumped. It sounded like a great adventure, a fabulous story and a way to spice up my life.
Honestly I didn’t think too much about it until the Sunday before I was due to film. I woke up and realised… I had nothing to wear.
Ah that old chestnut.
I called the most chill and hilarious woman I know, my friend Rosie, and demanded she escort me to Chadstone shopping centre because if anyone was going to make this mission palatable, it was her.
Despite our best efforts, three hours later we left empty handed. There wasn’t even a “might circle back if we don’t find anything else” outfit. So I headed to my friend Mel’s house and raided her wardrobe only to find that nothing looked remotely good on me. But this isn’t a story about not having anything to wear. A momentary gap in my wardrobe is not enough for me to pull out of a TV opportunity.
And of course I had something to wear. I always have something to wear. I have an excellent wardrobe and feel confident in everything I own (or I wouldn't own it). But you and I both know the manufactured stress about my outfit was symptomatic of a much deeper issue.
So let’s go there shall we?
On Sunday afternoon I stood and looked down the barrel of my week ahead.
The most pressing matter was that we were in an extended launch week. Now that might not mean anything to you but let me explain the stress levels involved.
Extended launch means we decided to actively sell a program for a week longer than we’d expected to. We hadn't had the amount of sales come in that we expected which told us that people needed more time and information to decide if the program was for them or not. We pivoted and adapted accordingly but it meant I wasn't prepared to be in launch mode.
Launch mode entails sitting in uncomfortable amounts of uncertainty about sales, income and whether your messaging has landed correctly. Your brain is fully occupied with what you need to say next in an email or post or podcast to help people make a decision and of course your time is spent chatting to potential clients and responding to questions across multiple communication channels. It's a lot of energy and time and involves managing a lot of self doubt.
Filming landed slap bang in the middle of that week and at 3pm on Sunday afternoon, the prospect of flying up to Sydney to film was taking up 98% of my bandwidth whileI knew it was my launch that needed the lion's share of my attention.
At the weekend I was hiking up Victoria’s tallest mountain. Did I have anything prepared other than my body? Poles, boots, clothes, backpack? No, no I did not.
Was I overwhelmed? Yes, yes I was.
Sometimes in moments like this we need to take a step back so we can take a step forward.
I left my flat and fled to my dear friend Suze. I burst open her front door and promptly word vomited all over her carpet until she quietly and firmly said to me “you can say no to the TV show.”
But far from feeling relieved at the prospect, my ego went OFF!
I cant let people down!
What if this is my sliding doors moment and my one opportunity for fame!
Everyone will think I'm not brave enough to follow through on it and they'll judge me.
The stories went on and must’ve shown on my face because the next thing Suze said was this.
“Whatever your ego just said, is not the voice of God. God’s voice is only ever gentle and loving.”
A word here about the use of the word God. I have no religious connotations to the word God. I hang out with a God of my own understanding and it's my guiding force. You do you with whatever your version of God is.
Another word, this time on “gentle and loving.” Gentle and loving doesn't mean letting yourself off the hook. It doesn't mean taking the easy way out or bailing on the hard stuff. Often when I'm being called to dig deep and show up with discipline in the moments I don't want to, the calling is still loving and kind. The voice that went off in my head on Sunday was not loving and kind. That's how I know it wasn't God.
Honestly the easier thing would have been for me to just go and do the show. That way I wouldn't have to let anyone down. I wouldn’t have to worry about what people would think of me. I wouldn't have to manage my made up stories around missed opportunities.
It took more strength to say no and trust myself than pushing through, finding something to wear and going.
I know I am brave, I take tight butt moments all the time and I’m always pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I want to be clear, this wasn't fear of the unknown. This was knowing that it wasn't for my highest good or greatest joy at this moment in time.
When I compared filming the show to how I felt about climbing the mountain it was totally different. I wasn't prepared for the mountain either. It was taking up precious space at the end of the extended launch week. It was going to take all of my physical and mental energy. But it felt right. Hard and inconvenient, but nonetheless, for my highest good and greatest joy.
So on Monday morning I called the producer and explained the situation. I was honest (yes I absolutely thought about pulling the “I've got Covid” card but I stayed in my integrity instead). They’ve invited me back next season. But even if they hadn't, it was still the right decision for me at the time so it was the right decision for me full stop.
I’ve been coaching and mentoring women for years and we all want one thing. It might come wrapped up in business success or financial goals or relationships but ultimately we’re all seeking the emotional state of contentment. We all want freedom.
But the pathway to these feelings is often in making decisions that feel like shit.
People assume that contentment means living without problems. But the opposite is true. To be content we need to make tough decisions.
People think that freedom means doing what you want when you want all the time. But it’s only in discipline that freedom can be found.
It’s a paradox so great that we often find ourselves creating lives that aren’t contented at all and feel like the opposite of freedom.
We choose the easy way out, we choose to please others over ourselves, we listen to our egos instead of our God and we make decisions based on instant gratification instead of long term gain - because that feels like “contentment” in the moment.
But it's not.
They are different things.
And a life based on easy decisions does not make an easy life.
We think freedom means spending money on dopamine hits, choosing not to work out or doing the things that feel easier in the moment, but a free mind is born from the discipline to do the things that make a difference over time.
The decisions we need to make for our highest good and greatest joy often feel hard in the moment.
So ask yourself if the decisions you’re making about your life are leading you to freedom and contentment. And if not, look closely at the quality of the decisions you’re making.
Because choosing easy is not the way to live an easy life.
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