Ways You’re Keeping Yourself Trapped And Miserable

In the field I work in, I see a lot of people that are unhappy in their lives for various reasons and typically they’re coming to see me because they’re looking for symptoms relief.

And that’s what most of this field deals in. Symptom reduction first, root causes… maybe later and typically in an ineffective way.

My work is different – I note the symptoms, but focus on root work. Not talking about it – healing it, resolving it, leaving it behind.

People might come in frustrated by symptoms of depression and anxiety but they’re missing the piece that says… your symptoms are trying to tell you something about your life. 

The context of your life is causing you symptoms and rather than medicating the symptoms, let’s look at what these uncomfortable experiences are actually trying to tell you about your life.

Things that you could change so the symptoms would go away.

Why isn’t the rest of the psychiatric community focusing their efforts in this way?

Don’t even get me started on the lack of qualified professionals that work neurobiologically to help you heal your own life or the quick fix demand and supplication of uncomfortable, albeit normal expressions of emotions, as opposed to digging in to do the work of holistic healing.

The bottom line is that no matter what work I do with you in session, what strategy is used, or what pill you toss at it – the symptoms of your life that are current alarm bells to warn you of misalignment or lack of health – will NEVER go away until you address the changeable contributors to your pain.


Your job, relationships, family, and friends…these are things you have control of.

You made a choice at some point to bring them into your life and now you’re holding onto them.

Many times when people suddenly develop symptoms of depression or anxiety, the underlying issue is that they are holding onto toxic elements in their life.

Elements that are largely temporary and when doctor’s throw a prescription at them, they become permanent.

An undeserved label with an ineffective bandaid that causes more problems long term and more pain than you’re suffering right now.

Instead of rejecting and resisting the symptoms of anxiety and depression, embrace them.

I know – sacrilege!

These symptoms are showing up to show you that you are dysregulated, that you are compromised, and that something needs to change in your life.

Embrace them as your brain trying to get you to make your life better.

Don’t self medicate out of it, get bold and push through it.

Stop relying on temporary states to make necessary permanent changed.

You aren’t going to feel better and then leap out into change.

You aren’t going to feel confident and ready.

You will NEVER make the changes you need to make in your life to create health and wellness by waiting for either of those conditions.

You will ONLY make the radical changes that your nervous system is trying to motivate you into with this pain by increasing your tolerance for, and leaning into.

The other reality of the human condition is that we can tolerate a lot of moderate discomfort that we get really good at complaining about to avoid making change.

Some people do this their whole lives.

They stay in jobs they hate until they retire from them depleted and miserable.

They stay in relationships that are unhealthy because they’re too afraid to leave them.

They tolerate unacceptable behavior and wonder why they’re not happy.

If you stay where you’re at you’ve made a choice to stay frustrated, miserable, and dissatisfied.

Every level of satisfaction is related to these core areas.

Those symptoms are there to give you enough pain to motivate you out of there and then you got comfortable there.

Some of the things that you’re doing to keep yourself from being happy include…

1. You’re not selfish enough.

WE’ve been told to put others first.

That being selfish is bad.

Being greedy is bad.

At some point you have to look at your relationships and your job and where you’re investing your time and ask “What’s In It For Me?”

Who are you living this life for anyway?

Not taking care of yourself and giving to others more than you give to yourself supports the idea that you don’t deserve to have benefit or enjoyment from the areas of your life that you choose to give.

Not identifying the things that are going to make you happy and then making time for them – the things you are avoiding because you’re too afraid or lazy or crippled in your own self talk and self imposed false guilt to make changes to move forward.

You get to live a life that you’re proud of, that makes you happy but you have to say.. I’m allowed to have something in my life for me.

Have the balls in your life to move forward in a way that keeps you in pursuit of things that are going to bring you joy.

Recognize that you are the best in your life when you are living from a place of fullness, of overflowing,

You can give and serve others from a place that’s healthy only when you create a life of satisfaction for yourself.

No medals for being a martyr. You have to choose to be proud of yourself over being pitied by others.

2. You don’t have a plan.

Wanting a different life does not magically create a new life.

We think that an escape route will show up if we wait long enough.

There is no escape for those who wait.

You make your own escape or you have to settle for being stuck.

You’re going to have to embrace the reality of busting down some doors and walls to get what you need.

The universe will not provide what you need when you need it just because you want it.

The longer you wait, the longer you stay in your current environment that isn’t serving you, the more your thoughts, time, and conversations will be spent consumed by where you are right now rather than creating a plan to take you where you actually want to be.

You have to see in my mind what your optimal life would look like.

You have to write it down, visualize it, immerse your energy into it.

But then you actually have to do something about it.

Lay out a game plan – some kind of blueprint for how you’re going to change your environment because you want to be healthy and not feel frustrated and trapped anymore.

Which relationships are negative influences in your life? Where can you set boundaries, distance, or complete elimination?

What steps do you need to take? (Are you writing this down, because you won’t do it if you aren’t writing it down and making it concrete and actionable).

What career would you rather be in? Make a plan – look for people you want to work for or with, brainstorm ideas on what work environment would make you feel good about what you’re doing.

What do you need to do for my mind, your heart, your body, your spirit? Why aren’t you taking care of yourself in this way by jumping on modifying your internal environment and health?

Do. The. Work. 

It’s not rocket science – there is ALWAYS a way.

Get creative. Write things down. Collaborate with others. Become accountable for your life or continue to take shit from yourself for it.

You can do, be, live, and love however you want. 

Read that again.

And again.

Now DO something.

The people that never get better. Everyone’s most frustrating clients? The ones that never DO.

Visualize. Talk it out. But if you don’t back it up with action – it’s just bullshit and no one will ever take you seriously and then you will end up a victim of your own inaction. 

Not the legacy you want for your life.

3. You let your emotions control you.

Mainly… guilt and fear.

Mostly fear.

You can be in a different career, relationship, geography.

You have so much more choice than you are giving yourself credit for and you’re allowing yourself to feel trapped.

No one is ever as trapped as they feel that they are.

What you’re trapped by is your mind and the fear that grips it more than anything.

These crippling emotions of guilt and fear that don’t serve… recognize them, acknowledge they are temporary, and choose an action plan and behavior in spite of them.

Choose “as-if” you didn’t feel guilt or fear.

Anything else is self sabotage that you are allowing.

Make choices to move forward in your life regardless of your emotions.

You can control these areas of your life.

You just need to be motivated enough and want it bad enough to make choices that are going to support what you need to be happy.

So allow this pain to be that motivation.

Take your focus off the pain and address what it’s trying to tell you.

That your context sucks – that your environment doesn’t support health and happiness and get on with change it. 

Do you want your legacy to be that you settled? That you were too afraid to change? That you complained but never did anything?

Where you’re at is not good enough. Or you wouldn’t be suffering.

Make choices independent of your emotions that are going to move you closer to what you want in your life.

Do not get comfortable with uncomfortable states or disregard them or assume they are a reliable diagnosis that is a permanent limitation in your life. They aren’t. You can do better than this. You can have better than this. By being “selfish”, by not waiting, and by making choices that support change in the areas of your life that don’t serve you – you can eliminate most of the symptoms that are causing distress and exist in a supportive environment by your own design that facilitates a life of meaning, energy, and pleasure.

by Tara Miller

Psychotherapist & writer. Helping you live your fullest life using neuroscience based SRT (Self Regulation Therapy). Specializing in general and trauma therapy.

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