Most people look at life coaching and think of it as something that helps people feel…happier. There’s a lot to be said for simple happiness. But there is a lot more that people aren’t talking about. Here is the truth about why it never feels like enough.
The field of Positive Psychology and it’s emphasis on how humans thrive best is the perfect compliment to coaching. After all, a lot of what myself and other teach is how to help decrease your own suffering.
Maybe you can relate to one of these situations:
- you have a bitchy inner critic that tells you you aren’t worthy of a better life
- you have a tendency to make bad choices relationship after relationship and chose someone who doesn’t lift you up
- you are a perpetual perfectionist and can’t seem to start, finish, or let go of anything because of your need to have it be flawless
- you keep searching for a life with more meaning and purpose…and still haven’t found it
- you struggle with creating healthy boundaries and saying “No” to people, trapped in a never-ending cycle of people-pleasing and lack of self care.
- you feel trapped and stuck
- you wallow in a scarcity mindset, blocking abundance from entering your life
- you feel a lack of self love and self-worth
- you wonder why you don’t feel confident or courageous enough to do what it takes
Coaching helps you with all the above. But what a lot of people don’t talk about is that once you achieve a lot of the things above – the freedom, the location-independent lifestyle, the abundance, the awesome relationship, the killer career, the ziji (radiant inner confidence) – people end up realizing that something is still missing.
And let me tell you – that moment sucks. Royally.
Here you’ve done the spiritual work, the intellectual work, the creative work, the courageous work – a LOT of freakin’ work – and it all seems perfect, yet something is Still. Freakin’. Missing.
Here’s the clincher: we are born to serve in a powerful way.
We are meant to use all the skills we learned up until this glorious moment of fulfillment, and use them to (no pressure here;) change the world.
You cannot be a human with all faculties present in yourself and feel content in life if you are not deeply serving. You will always feel like something is missing.
In order to serve powerfully, we must muster the deepest type of courage yet. This is courage deeper than what is required to ask for a raise, or to start our own business, or to leave the toxic relationship.
Don’t get me wrong – they are related, and the first kind of courage is requisite to getting to the next level of bravery.
But what is required of you to truly feel like your life is enough and to finally feel content is to be of deep, holy service to some-one/some-thing else greater than yourself.
You don’t necessarily need to expose environmental injustices like Margaret Heffernan
… cover the atrocities of war like Janine di Giovani
… move to Afghanistan to be the attorney representing abused girls like Kimberly Motley
… or demand transparency in medicine like Leana Wen
This also does not mean that you can expect donating 10% of your income to charity can help you feel this sense of purpose. I know that donating part of one’s income to charities is more popular than ever (I do it myself) – but this is not the type of action I am talking about. Nope. It is ideally YOU who is doing the act of service (but by all means, please still donate, because we need so many types of service out there!).
What I mean is if you truly want to feel fulfilled at the end of this life, your actions need to involve courageous acts of service. By you.
When I look back on my life, it is not the peaks I have climbed, the adventures I have been on, or the financial milestones that help me feel that today would be a good day to die – although I will be the first to admit that they certainly help.
Rather, it is the times that I have made other people’s lives better that help me sleep at night. The times I spent in Africa working with refugees on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. The times I forgave people that deeply hurt me. The times I risked disappointing others and being criticized in order to bring a bigger message to the world. The times I washed my bloodied gloves in a bucket by hand while delivering babies in a public hospital for Haitian women that had no running water. The times I sat with a mother holding her stillborn and allowed myself to cry with her, and kissed her baby so she could see that indeed, her baby’s life mattered to me too. The times I helped another women claim her power and freedom.
It takes a lot of courage to serve others fully. To allow ourselves to feel the pain and suffering of others and to take action to stop it. To be so vulnerable with strangers that it scares the shit out of you.
You also have to know what the world truly needs in order to best bring your gifts to the world in acts of service. And learning what the world needs can be terrifying, scary, and overwhelming.
But you can do it. You MUST do it.
You were born to do it.
I have clients break down in tears when they realize this. This is understandable, because the responsibility can feel overwhelming. But trust me – you don’t need to do anything more than discover your gifts and live them fully.
Your true gift involved deep service to others.
You do not need to head into war zones or depraved conditions (unless that’s a part of your gift), but you do need to discover and be honest with yourself about what you are good at, and how it can help make the world a better place than when you arrived.
It’s scary, but you can find the ziji, the courage, the confidence.
How do we get this courage? In my experience, this deeply driven courage is created by an emotion that is much less “sexy” to many: Compassion
Compassion is the most courageous emotion we can carry, and the brave acts it allows us to undertake is why it is the emotion that helps our life feel like one well-lived.
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ” ~ Pema Chödrön
There you have it.
If you want to live a truly courageous life, open your heart.
Feel the pain, the suffering, the injustices.
Do the work. Spend time alone. Spend time with people who really matter.
Fiercely quest for your purpose.
Let any ideas of your previous self die away, so that you may truly be open to the gift that only you are able to deliver – one you may have no freakin’ idea about yet. Or one you know about, but that really, really scares you to think about embodying.
You are enough. The best way to see that – and indeed, the best way to feel that – is to discover that gift and how to best bring it to the world in service.
Share with me below about your gifts, or what has helped you sleep better at night, the ways you love to serve, the ways you dream to serve. I love this kind of stuff – and trust me, I’ll reply.
For more inspiration:
Listen to this excerpt of an interview on the Ted Radio Hour with Zainab Salbi describing how women endure during times of violent conflict, holding their communities together best they can, with courage and compassion.
Read this article from the Greater Good Science Center about a happy life vs a meaningful life (and are they different?).
Want to tap into your own compassion more (for yourself and others)? Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page, and have a listen to my free Tong Len guided meditation.
Read all of Pema Chodron’s books. Period.