Dear Dr. Norquist:
I find I am pretty unhappy with the way my life is going for me. I thought that by now I’d be further along, with friends I enjoyed spending time with and doing a job that I didn’t hate if not one that was worthwhile. I don’t seem to be making ANY headway at all.
My job feels like it was specially created to torture me, presenting me with everything that I can’t stand. I’m asked to report on things in front of others on short notice, usually about areas where I don’t even have any control. As a result I work late a lot trying to learn as much as I can about all the areas I might be called on to report about.
It is thankless. I usually crash as soon as I get home from being so tired. Weekends I walk around the city a lot after all these years living here, I haven’t found anyone who I would enjoy hanging out with. Maybe it is me but everyone seems so caught up in what they need and want that no one seems at all interested in what I want and think. This doesn’t feel right to me. All of this makes me very sad and sometimes lonely.
Dr. Norquist responds:
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to pay attention to your thinking patterns. Thoughts carry creative energy; they are like spiritual forces. You are creating your present and your future by what you allow yourself to think. Negative thoughts bring more negative feelings and situations into your life. Positive thoughts bring about a more uplifted state, and more promising opportunities for moving forward. It is simple but profound. Be vigilant regarding habitual negative reactions. Habits direct our lives until we become conscious of them and decide whether or not they serve our goals in life. Life is not haphazard. We have a major influence on the direction our lives take through our habitual thoughts and feelings, as well as our decisions. The more conscious we become of our habits in this regard, the more control we can have over our health, our happiness and our future.
Mindfulness is very helpful here. If you focus your awareness on the present moment, time slows down and it is easier to notice habitual thoughts and feelings that are not serving you well. To accomplish this, practice noticing the events of the moment – the visual sights, the sounds, the smells and how you are feeling in your body. Feel your feet on the floor, and notice the support you are receiving from the ground beneath your feet. This will allow time to slow and expand. This practice will reduce your stress level and allow you to notice negative (or positive) reactions you are having to whatever is going on.
In this way you can consciously create a more positive life experience for yourself.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2014 Chaitanya Counseling Services