If there’s one thing I understand, it’s feeling unfulfilled.
You see I spent so many years wanting more, even though I didn’t know what that more was, let alone where to go looking for it.
Maybe you can relate?
When you aren’t satisfied with life, it can bring a wide range of emotions up. One of which is guilt.
When there is nothing particularly “wrong” we can feel bad for our discontentment. So, we begin to internalize it.
But as we do our secret unfulfillment can start to surface in certain telltale behaviors.
1) Keeping endlessly busy
Often when we’re unfulfilled in life we try to endlessly fill the void we feel inside.
That can mean always finding something that needs to be done.
Running errands, endless social engagements, working non-stop, and still making time for countless hobbies.
Sometimes we cram as many things into the day simply because we’re afraid to stop.
Because when we do, it means the distractions no longer keep us from thinking.
Alone time can be very uncomfortable if you are hiding from reflection.
Without constant outside noise to drown out the internal voice, you have to confront your secret feelings.
And we don’t always want to.
So we continue to hide in anything that makes us feel better.
But as we’re about to see, that sometimes means going looking for fulfillment in the wrong places.
2) A focus on materialism
I’m not going to sit here and wax lyrical about how money doesn’t mean a thing.
For starters, research has shown that the security, freedom, and opportunity of wealth certainty can raise the happiness stakes for most of us.
But there is a caveat, because it is far from everything and provides no guarantee of happiness.
Yet we can buy into this cultural misgiving that along with stuff always comes greater fulfillment.
We’re all led to believe that a new us awaits if we splash the cash on expensive clothes, gadgets, cars, and possessions.
So it’s very easy to get lost in the materialistic dream that we’ll find our fulfillment as soon as our bank balance rises.
Some women who are feeling fulfilled chase the short-lived high of buying new stuff. Yet it never works ultimately, and they always need more.
That’s because they are trying to use external objects to replace an internal sense of contentment.
3) Excessively hiding in pleasant distractions
Of course, materialism isn’t the only hiding place from secret unfulfillment.
These days there are many pleasant distractions we can turn to.
When we’re lonely or bored, we may seek out the diverting noise of endless scrolling on social media.
We look to TV to break up the monotony and allow our imagination to escape into another world for a while.
In some instances, we may overeat, overdrink, or take drugs to desperately eke out as much pleasure as possible from an otherwise disappointing day.
The problem is, whilst they may do the trick of taking our minds off the way we feel, they never really fill us up.
A little bit of escapism is natural to destress and unwind, but excessively hiding in it points to some deeper dissatisfaction with life.
4) Gossiping a lot about others
I don’t think there are many people who haven’t indulged in gossip at some point or another.
There can be plenty of reasons behind it, as research has shown “that people were motivated to engage in gossip to bond with their group members, to entertain themselves, to exchange information, to vent emotions, and to maintain social order.”
Sometimes we say unkind things about other people just to make ourselves feel better.
It makes us feel less shitty to point out how others around us are also failing. But this can point to low self-esteem and low levels of life satisfaction within us.
Gossip can also be born out of envy, and whenever we covet what someone else has, it’s usually a sign that we’re not totally happy with our own lives.
5) Constantly complaining
Much like gossip, who of us could honestly say we don’t have a little moan now and then?
I know I do, and sometimes it really does make me feel better.
Whenever I’m feeling frustrated, angry, or disappointed it serves as a release to let those emotions out.
But it becomes toxic when it turns from an occasional tool we turn to for greater expression, into a non-stop negative approach.
Because moaning gets us stuck in pessimistic cycles that can lead to a victimhood mentality.
When someone complains all the time, even about the littlest things, it suggests their mind is fixated on the bad.
They cannot see what they already have, and feel grateful for it.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with striving for improvement.
But whenever we don’t appreciate the things we have to be thankful for, we’re bound to be left feeling less fulfilled — no matter what we manage to achieve or get in life.
6) Waiting for love to save them
This is such a sneaky one.
Because on the one hand, strong and healthy relationships are linked to our happiness levels and feelings of fulfillment.
As social creatures, there is no getting away from the fact that we need to feel a sense of belonging and connection.
But hoping that someone else has the power to make you feel good is another huge red herring.
One that plenty of us fall for.
When life feels flat, we secretly hope that “the one” will find us and make us complete. We put our hopes on someone else being the missing piece to our puzzle.
It’s actually a bit of a lazy approach.
Plus, unfortunately, no one has the power to make you feel whole. Whilst relationships can enhance your sense of fulfillment, they’re rarely enough on their own.
The high that comes with the first flush of romance will subside eventually, just like the shine wears off everything sooner or later.
A thrilling love life will never be enough to replace the solid foundations of a good relationship with yourself.
7) A lack of motivation
We’re not talking about the occasional case of the Mondays.
Living a fast-paced demanding life can force any of us all to want to pull the covers back over our heads and go back to bed some days.
But the times when I have felt deep unfulfillment wash over me it’s usually led to some low-level depression that strips away your motivation.
When we struggle to find meaning in the things we do, apathy is a natural side effect.
You may get a sense of “What’s the point?!”.
That’s why women who feel generally unfulfilled may no longer find enjoyment in the things that used to bring them pleasure.
As that happens, they may struggle to find the inclination to do even the most basic of tasks.
Unrealistically high standards go hand and hand with unfulfillment.
Because you can never win.
When you expect nothing short of perfection you set yourself up to fail as nothing measures up.
Perfectionism pins all our happiness on an unattainable level of success.
But at the same time, it often holds us back from progressing because we become so afraid of getting it wrong that we avoid putting ourselves out there.
If we are to grow and expand, something really important in finding fulfillment, we must leave our comfort zone.
That means being able to let go of the outcome and focus on what we can control. That’s not always easy as we’re about to see.
9) Trying to control everything
All of us seek out a certain amount of security. We need this to feel safe.
But when you’re feeling unfulfilled in life, it can be pretty scary as it brings up a sense of helplessness or even hopelessness.
You may feel pretty lost and not really know how to change that.
Whenever we’re faced with uncertainty, we can grasp hold of things even more tightly.
That can show up in behaviors that may come across as controlling and uptight.
For example, micromanaging, becoming obsessed with the finer details of planning, and finding it hard to let go.
Excessive control becomes an anxious person’s way of soothing the doubts they have, to help them feel back in the driving seat of their life.
Ah, the good old days.
When life was sweeter and everything was carefree.
Of course, it wasn’t. But rose-tinted glasses often come out when we look back on the past.
It’s usually a way of avoiding the present. We prefer to live in the warm glow of days gone by.
But our best days should never be behind us.
If someone acts as though they are, it’s a strong sign they’re not feeling fulfilled in the here and now.
We all find our fulfillment in different places
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to finding more satisfaction because we’re all unique.
Having said that, having strong connections, making meaningful contributions, and continued growth are all areas where it’s most commonly found.
Finding greater fulfillment may take a little bit of soul-searching and asking some deeper questions.
Rediscovering ourselves can help us rediscover our passions too. It can be good whenever we’re feeling stuck to shake things up a bit and seek some changes.
Yet it’s also really important to remember that just as much of our fulfillment (if not more) comes from the inside as it does from any outside achievements.