March 13, 2023 by Dymphna

T-Bomb: You’re not broken. Your context is broken.

Truth Bomb Tuesday: Things need to change… but you don’t.

“I dunno. I used to really love surfing…”

A whisty, dreamy look came into his eyes. A sad look… followed by a sad sigh.

Josh did used to love surfing. It brought him a lot of joy.

These days it didn’t so much. He couldn’t figure out why.

But I could. I’ve seen it before.

Because by the time he came to me and became one of my students, life had become a grind. He was working very long hours. He was up to his eyeballs in debt, and a couple of get-rich-quick-schemes turned out to be more quick-poor-quick-schemes, as they almost always do.

The financial pressure, coupled with the exhausting work routines, was then taking its toll – on his health, on his relationship, on his family.

He was actually starting to get desperate.

And on top of all that, he just didn’t enjoy surfing any more.

Surfing – the thing that had been with him all his life. His favourite thing to do. His happy and his safe place.

Even that had lost its edge.

And why?

Now this is going to sound stupid, but if you’re sad, it’s hard to get happy.

Let me put it this way. Imagine that your dog dies, and then someone gives you an icecream.

How much joy do you get from that icecream? Not much right? If anything, it might make you feel worse.

But you don’t then turn around and say, “Wow, I just don’t enjoy icecream like a used to.”

No. You recognise the context you’re in is having a big impact on your ability to enjoy the thing.

Now this is an obvious example, but we don’t appreciate how far this reaches.

Because financial stress is a context. And if you’re constantly stressed, it just doesn’t matter how frothy the waves are, it’s going to be hard to enjoy them.

But people don’t recognise this. They just think that they’ve lost the ability to be happy, at all. When the things you love – surfing, bushwalking, sky-diving, knitting, whatever – when the things you love stop making you happy – you feel like you are irredeemably broken.

“If even surfing can’t make me happy, then nothing will.”

But you’re not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you. And there’s nothing wrong with surfing.

The only problem is with your context. And if your context is relentless financial pressure, then that context needs to shift before you can start enjoying life again.

I can’t stress this enough, and seriously, maybe you can forward this to someone you think needs to hear it.

Because when your greatest loves stop bringing you joy, it does feel like all help is lost. There’s no hope. It feels like nothing can save you.

Because it feels like the problem is you.

It’s not. It almost never is.

The problem is almost always with the context.

And the context can always change.