The Misery of not Being Yourself

Feb 26, 2024

The power of play as a way of living

We are in the midst of a raging pandemic! It is not a biological pandemic like Covid, no, its a lot more persistent than that. The pandemic I’m referring to is a pandemic of misery.

When you take a step back and look at human civilization it becomes apparent pretty quick that most humans are experiencing some degree of misery. The symptoms of it are everywhere when you consider the state of our societies. People who are happy and peaceful do not produce a world like we have today.

The only way we are going to turn things around and move to the next level as a species is if we confront our misery and where it comes from.

What is Misery?

There are many ways to understand misery but I have come to look at it based on my experience as the following…

Misery is the side effect or reaction to not being your self.

I’ve personally felt miserable much of my life, even when I didn’t consciously realize it. One can become so accustomed to it that you don’t even realize you are in it.

Misery manifests in many ways including depression and low energy, apathy for life, anger and irritation and feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. It can become a way of life. A subtle (or not so subtle) dark cloud hanging over one’s life.

I’ve known all that but the experience of misery led me to try to understand what it means and where it comes from to find a way out. Even though it has taken many years of self reflection and confronting some very uncomfortable parts of myself, I feel I’ve gotten to a point where I can begin to let it go and realize greater freedom.

What it takes is the willingness to confront yourself. To observe yourself and question why you think the way you do and why you feel the way you do. The trick is to direct those questions within and not look for answers to them externally from the world or other people. Things may be a certain way in the world and that may require you to take action in response but none of that requires you to be miserable.

If you accept that the world can make you miserable you become powerless. Since you cannot control the world, your state of mind is at the mercy of something that is constantly changing, whether you like it or not. I have not found this to be true.

We have to learn to take responsibility for how we feel and look for resolution in our selves. This is how we begin to take our power back and no longer let conditions control how we feel. Personally I have found this to be true. I may not be able to control conditions but I can control how I perceive or undertand them and most importantly how I react to them.

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Being Your Self

I have come to believe there is a natural flow to our lives that doesn’t involve misery or struggle and results in a way of life that best resembles play.

The problem is most of us have been conditioned through our families, our cultures and our experiences in this world to see life from a very limted perspective. A perspective based on fear, lack, greed and struggle. A perspective that is not in any way natural even though it is the most common currently.

Living from such a perspective is miserable.

On the other hand there is our true Self. I like to refer to it as the heart, not the physical or emotional heart but the heart as in the center or the source. The source of my being or my consciousness so to speak. The center of my experience. Being your self means to consciously be in touch with the part of you that is not conditioned or subject to the changing conditions of life.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Playing Your Self Instead of Suffering Your Self

If you are willing to face yourself and look within there is a part of you that is already at peace, already free and already happy. To really get in touch with it requires loosening the idea of who you think you are and how you live your life.

Being yourself means to live from this deeper place. To trust it. To take refuge in it. To let it inform what you do. If you don’t think too much about it, being yourself is quite easy. You have a reliable indicator to tell you if you are being yourself. If you feel misery to any degree then you are not being yourself, rather you are trying to be some idea of yourself which comes from your conditioning or living up to the expectations of others whether they are family, friends or society.

If you can let go of misery by getting in touch with your deeper self your perspective on life will change in a profound way. That is the other indicator you can rely on — play. When you are in touch with your heart the way you live life becomes more like play.

Play is what life is like when you are being your self

That is not to say you don’t support yourself or you don’t take any responsibility in life. On the contrary, you are better able to meet your responsibilties when you no longer waste vast amounts of energy being miserable.

You don’t waste your time in relationships that make you miserable or jobs that you hate doing or walking around fearful and confused about your direction in life. Instead you know that the deeper part of you knows the way and you can tell you are going in the right direction by how it feels. You have a personal compass.

You have learned to play yourself rather than suffer yourself, almost as if the person you are is a character in a great drama and you as the actor realize you are just playing this character for a time and your job is to give a great performance!


Thanks for reading! In addition to being a technologist, Colin writes about life from the heart and topics involving peace, mindfulness, freedom and spirituality. He holds a masters degree in psycholgy and has worked as a mindfulness based counselor.

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