The signs of unhappiness for many men doesn’t come as an instant revelation. They are often gradual and take time to develop.
Like most things in life we all have different tolerances for putting up with things that aren’t ideal.
You know you should at least look at that dripping tap that your partner has been complaining about, but surely it can wait until next week!
Some are driven to try to fix problems the instant they appear, while other will put things off until avoiding the problem outweighs the hassle of solving it.
However, the feeling of unhappiness itself is more often than not a gradual one. A gradual erosion of happiness at work. With family and relationships. With the way you feel yourself. More time spent worrying or needing to escape.
The slow moving nature of unhappiness is what can make it so difficult to deal with in the first place.
Men particularly tend to accept the signs of unhappiness in their lives, compounded by the roles we often cast ourselves in. Family provider. Emotional rock. Consistent and strong. Family first, yourself last.
Being vigilant to the signs of unhappiness is one of the most important steps any man can take in maintaining a happy and fulfilled life.
So know the signs…
Gradual withdrawal from life is a major symptom of unhappiness in men. The temptation to disconnect with those around you and to internalise your own problems. The growing tendency to do things alone – more time in the shed, extra hours on playing the X-Box – signs of the need to escape from the issues that we’re facing.
Often starting with the realisation that you’re quicker to get angry about minor things, more irritable or alternatively a growing lack of care about things in life.
A heightened emotional state is often coupled with withdrawal. It can take the form of physical withdrawal from being around people or emotional withdrawal – the classic lights are on but nobody is at home.
Physical symptoms are often one of the most obvious signs of unhappiness, but often totally ignored by men.
These symptoms are signs from the mind manifesting in the body that something isn’t right and should be taken really seriously.
Common symptoms of unhappiness are varied but include, feeling sick, reflux or tiredness. This is often heightened during stressful periods. A racing mind and difficulty in sleeping and switching off. Tightness in the chest, anxiousness, raised levels of breathing.
In cases of stress and unhappinesses, these symptoms are often only cured by removal of the issue that is causing unhappiness in the first place.
A loss of optimism and the feeling that you can’t find a way out of your problems. A strong feeling of being on your own. An inability to see the woods from the trees combined with mentally obsessing about issues.
Recognising these symptoms is an essential first step in getting back on the path to happiness. The quicker you can act on these signs the better.
So, you’ve seen the signs of unhappiness. What can you do to get yourself back on track?
Change the scenery
Developing strategies to overcome unhappiness requires time and thought. It requires an ability to really introspect your own problems and to indentify and confront the things that are bringing you down.
A great way of doing this type of thinking is to have a break and take yourself away from your normal environment.
Find somewhere quiet, inspiring and allow yourself the time to work through what’s making you unhappy.
Be absolutely truthful with yourself
Diagnosing the real cause of your unhappiness can be a real challenge.
Many people benefit from talking to a professional to work through problems, but for many men, the idea of talking to a stranger about your personal feelings isn’t palatable.
If you’re feeling like this and you’re determined to self diagnose, you need to be absolutely truthful with yourself with how you’re feeling.
Often unhappiness can be a many-headed beast, perhaps impacting several aspects of your life.
Take the time to go through every aspect of your life, even if you don’t immediately feel that there’s a problem in every area. You may surprise yourself in identifying the root cause of your unhappiness.
How successful you are at doing this however, lies in your ability to be totally honest with yourself.
Think. Plan. Do. Review
These four steps towards happiness seem simple, but they often require many hours of hard work, application and honesty.
It starts with having the time to think about the causes of unhappiness in your life, which is dependent on the point above – being absolutely truthful with yourself.
Next is to plan the corrections that you’re going to make to achieve your goal. Again this takes time and starts with simply asking what outcome am I looking for by making this change.
Implementing your plan is often the most challenging part, as it often involves an upheaval and disruption to your life. Remember however, the thing you’re changing, no matter how hard it seems, is the cause of what is making you unhappy.
Be determined, committed and apply yourself fully to what you do.
Lastly, review. Few things in life are absolute.
Life goes on for all of us and you always have the ability to make a change in your life – no matter how hard things sometimes can seem.
Don’t be afraid to try something and for it to not work out.
There are always alternatives.
Real failure is not to try in the first place.