There’s a quote by Jonatan Mårtensson I really like: “Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which ones to surf.”
Emotions hold a lot of power. For one, they often point out things about your life you may have been ignoring on a rational level, such as how satisfied you really are with your job, relationships, and daily routine.
But just as Mårtensson says, it’s up to you to surf those waves. In other words, you can choose if you’ll start taking your feelings seriously or if you’ll let them wash over you day by day and do nothing about it.
So, where do you start?
With self-awareness. If you recognize these 7 feelings, you’re secretly unsatisfied with your life.
1) Numb apathy
The most obvious feeling is a general sense of apathy.
Because it means you’ve probably tried to cheer yourself up day by day, month by month, and ended up feeling so frustrated and exhausted that eventually, you just…gave up.
You submitted to the soul-draining routine of a job that no longer fulfills you. You resigned on your passions and dreams.
And then, months or years down the line, you’ve become so accustomed to this dull ache that it stopped feeling like an issue at all.
You’re going through the motions. You’re repeating the same pattern, over and over again. And it feels safe and solid, like lying next to a burning fireplace and soaking in the warmth without realizing that the closer you move toward it, the more likely you are to get burned.
Because the truth is that apathy is exhausting. It may feel like you don’t care, but really, you’ve just bottled down all those feelings, and keeping them suppressed takes all your energy.
You might be secretly unsatisfied with your life.
2) Sisyphean hopelessness
Before the apathy arrives at the crime scene, there’s a hurricane of different emotions that slowly drive you to your breaking point.
Really, though, it’s not the feelings themselves that are the problem. It’s the way you choose to live, day in and day out. Emotions are just symptoms of a deeper issue.
And one such feeling is hopelessness.
Take a step back and think about your life as it is right now. Do you feel like:
- You have no clue where you’re going?
- Every time you aim for something, it inevitably falls apart?
- You’re reaching out on your tiptoes, your hands held high, but you can’t quite touch the ceiling no matter how hard you try?
Ever heard of the legend of Sisyphus?
In the Greek myth, Sisyphus has been sentenced by the gods to keep rolling a boulder up a hill only to see it tumble back down again and again, for all of eternity. And no matter how many times he gets the boulder up, it inevitably rolls back to the bottom, rendering Sisyphus’s endeavor completely futile.
But Sisyphus can’t stop. He has to keep perpetuating the same cycle of meaninglessness.
If you feel like you’re the Sisyphus of your own life… you may be secretly unsatisfied with it.
3) Occasional pangs of guilt and regret
Unlike apathy or hopelessness, guilt and regret are much sharper emotions that pierce you like a knife, only to disappear in the next moment.
No one feels guilty 24/7. No one drowns themselves in regret seven days a week. But that doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t important. Their nature is just inherently different.
Do you sometimes stop and think, “I wish I had done X?” Do you occasionally feel like you haven’t fulfilled your potential? Like you’re guilty of giving up on yourself?
Well, guess what. People who love their lives rarely experience that, if at all. They might be anxious from time to time, they may feel anger or frustration, but they don’t regret how their lives turned out.
They know they are exactly where they’re meant to be.
You, on the other hand, feel…
4) The lust for something more
A few years ago, I used to daydream about a better life *all the damn time*.
While I was hoovering peanuts from behind a hotel room bed, I was imagining myself lying on a beach in Bali. And when my meager paycheck came in, I wished I could just waltz into a shop and buy whatever the hell I wanted.
But this wasn’t only greed talking. It was my potential. I knew I *could* be more. I knew I had it in me. I just couldn’t figure out how to get there.
Wanderlust has become so normalized nowadays that daydreaming about a holiday while you’re stuck in your corporate job seems like an ordinary thing to do. But when it comes down to it, people who are satisfied with their lives don’t wish they were somewhere else on a daily basis.
That lust you’re feeling may be a sign you’re meant for more.
5) Swirling anxiety and fear
Even successful and happy CEOs get anxious and scared. But sometimes, anxiety – especially when you experience it regularly – points to a deeper issue beneath the surface.
Remember how I used to daydream about Bali while hoovering peanuts? Well, I was also severely anxious every day.
I was terrified I’d never reach my goals. I was stressed I’d run out of money. I was more anxious than happy about every single opportunity that presented itself to me because I was worried I’d screw up and lose the one thing I wanted most: happiness.
But what I didn’t realize in my pursuit of happiness was that I was already making myself severely unhappy by worrying so much about reaching it in the first place.
Then I decided to let go, put my faith in the universe, and enjoy the journey for what it was.
My life became much better for it.
6) Dull loneliness
I love spending time in my own company – it’s when I recharge my batteries, explore my imagination by reading lots of fiction, and feel at my most comfortable.
When I’m alone for too long, though, I experience a dull ache that reminds me something’s missing, some vital part of my life that makes me want to be alive – and then I realize I’m just feeling really freaking lonely.
Loneliness is terrible, but it’s also so common nowadays that it almost feels acceptable. But what if I told you that loneliness is as bad for you as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day?
Yep, that’s right. Loneliness is a pretty big deal, so make sure you’re integrating into new communities and surround yourself with people who lift you up.
7) Suffocating self-pity
Self-pity is often frowned upon – no one likes a crybaby with a victim mindset, after all – but I’ve found the feeling to be actually quite useful.
The reason is simple. When you’re pitying yourself – “oh, woe is me, this always happens to me, why do I have to suffer so” – it’s your ego telling you that you deserve more.
And that’s crucial. It means that you believe you are meant for a better life, even though your way of going about acquiring it might not be the most effective.
At its core, self-pity feeds into anger. It’s tied to entitlement and knowing your worth. It’s your mind shouting at you that you shouldn’t just resign yourself to this, you shouldn’t be treated this way, you shouldn’t feel so rubbish.
And sooner or later, that seed of self-pity gives way to a flower of rage, and that rage is what will motivate you to go after your goals in earnest.
So, if you’re feeling a little bit sorry for yourself, it might not only mean that you’re secretly unsatisfied with your life but also that you’re ready to make a change.