Why do I feel so unhappy?

This blog is for the many people I have worked with who have felt like their ‘issues’ were not worthy enough to warrant feeling so unhappy; and the many others out there at risk of dismissing their discontent.  Many times I hear statements like ‘I should not be feeling like this’ or ‘I have no reason to be feeling like I do’ maybe even ‘such and such a body has been through so much and they seem OK, then here is me feeling so down all the time’ or ‘I have so many good things in my life, why do I feel as I do’.  Some people can be so hard on themselves for how they feel, if they feel it is not justified.  How you feel is likely linked to something significant more often than not.

The minute I hear such statements, I become aware as a counsellor that we may need to be working with more subtle, underlying, problems for that person.  Sometimes events and feelings can trigger more unconscious positive or painful memories, this is known as transference, it is powerful yet can be experienced on a more subconscious level.  It leaves me feeling sad that people can feel unhappy but be so hard on themselves and not allow themselves permission to accept how they feel, or even worse, to be hard on themselves for feeling a certain way.  There can be a lot of pressure from society for people to be happy and positive all the time or for people to ‘pull themselves together’, and while this may be healthy to some extent, for me personally I find it unhealthy to expect that is how anyone can be all the time (Stepford wives just popped to mind).

Please try not to be too quick to tell someone ‘yes but look at what you have’ or ‘that is silly why are you letting it bother you’.  Often people can say such things because they care and want a person to feel better, but it is likely the person is already aware of that and something is affecting that person regardless, so they could be left feeling worse from such statements.  Sometimes it can be a case of someone needing to pull themselves together, it may just be a ‘blip’ but other times it may not be that simple and people will be at risk of going further into themselves and feeling much worse about themselves if others discredit their feelings.

Accepting how you feel is the first step to healing usually.  If you try to deny how you feel and mask it with work, substances, relationships or the latest Jimmy Choo’s, then it is not likely to go away, as your temporary distractions are not necessarily going to change anything long-term.

If you have been affected by a specific trauma and need support you are just as worthy and your experiences are as valued in counselling as someone who may not have experienced a specific trauma.  Often the only difference I find, is that as a counsellor I have to work on supporting some people to accept how they feel, and how to value themselves enough to allow how they feel.  This then creates a space to explore and see what/why/when/who may have impacted on them to some degree.

I am well aware this could scare some away from counselling.  Many would like to avoiding looking at their lives in too much depth and would like to come to counselling for more of a ‘quick fix’ solution.  For some that may be what they need, but this is for those that will need a little more exploration to what is behind how they feel in general, if they find negative feelings lingering more.

We all have ‘issues’ and area’s of strengths and weaknesses.  We can have varied self-esteem, some may excel in some areas yet struggle with other things.  Some may have a healthy balance of internal self-esteem whilst others may only have self-esteem based on external factors.  We may get jealous of certain things, yet have healthy acceptance with others and so on.  So we all have issues to some extent, it can just be that at times, some aspects tip the scales for whatever reason, or the stress bucket over flows for good reasons and then a little support may help.

So for anyone who is not feeling too good but feels like there is no reason why they feel that way, please think about talking to someone who will validate you and not dismiss you.  We are so delicate yet so resilient.  One comment from someone can haunt us for a long time.  Children can be so delicate, they can hear criticism and be badly affected, or they can hear nothing and be badly affected because no one is taking time to show them they are worthy of someone taking time.

So do not be too quick to dismiss yourself and how you may be feeling.  We need to be our own best friend, not our own worst enemy.  Support is available and encouraged for rape victims and victims of child abuse, domestic abuse and serious assaults.  This is truly great and so needed.  If you do not have a specific trauma, you need to acknowledge that you are worthy also of support.  You may face a society that will be more dismissive of your issues, but in counselling you will be valued.  I am sure it may get us counsellors a bit of a reputation for being ‘wishy washy’ or creating something out of nothing, but with those kind of negative attitudes to contend with, my hope is that you will break free and come and value yourself and take some time to try to understand why you do not feel good.  No person gains a ring around their bottom from sitting on their pity pot in counselling.  You are valued, your story is heard, together it is understood, you look at your choices and how you can move forward letting go of anything you need to let go of.  We are all of equal value, do not let anyone tell you any different and please do not place yourself as having less value to any other person, as that attitude could bring on long-term problems.

If you don’t feel good and you feel there is no reason why, I hope you care about that and I hope you have people in your life who care about that also.  If not consider some kind of personal development work, as you might find yourself happier if you care about you and surround yourself with others that care about you too.

Take care for now

Angela Neild

Manchester Counselling


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