Dear MsBehaved: Jonna Ivin Answers It For You

Dear Ms Behaved,

I hate my life! I feel fat and ugly. I can’t stand my job. Every day is the same. I get up, go to work, come home and watch television until it’s time to go to bed. The next day I get up and do the exact same thing. I’ve tried dieting, but I get bored at night and end up eating bad foods and hating myself all over again.

A few of my friends will ask me to go out to bars and clubs on the weekend, but watching my prettier, skinnier friends get hit on by guys while I get ignored just depresses me more. I can’t seem to find any happiness in life. I’m not suicidal, but I don’t want to go through life like this.

Please help me figure out how to get out of this rut. I’m trying to have a positive attitude. I’ve read self-help books. I’ve even tried praying for something in my life to change. When the alarm goes off in the morning, I dread having to get out of bed. What’s the point? Every day is just like the last one.

-Over It

Dear Over It,

I get it. I’ve been there, and I totally understand where you are coming from. Feeling stuck and uninterested in your own life can be extremely painful.  Apathy can suck the joy out of your soul and send you into a deep depression.  We need to get you living again, and the only way to do that is to get you moving toward something.  You know you want out, but you might not know where you want to go.  So, it’s time to start taking steps.  None of what I write here matters unless you are really ready to change your life. You hold all the power. Remember that.

You mentioned that you prayed for your life to change, but I wonder how that can happen if you are staying the same. It is my belief that God, The Universe, Cosmic Energy, whatever you want to call “It”, will always, yes always, meet you where you are and reflect back what you are putting out.  Each effort you make toward change will reflect back into your life, but you have to make the first move.

The first thing I am going to suggest is that you call your cable provider and cancel your subscription. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it is time to give the boob-tube a break. You’re bored, but not bored enough.  Television provides an adequate amount of entertainment, so you aren’t compelled to shake up your routine. It’s time to stop watching other people live life and start living your own.

I want you to get bored, ridiculously bored, crazy-making bored because that boredom will incite creativity. The first few days without TV may seem like torture. You may find yourself going to bed at eight o’clock.  That’s fine. Get some rest in, but know that eventually you will begin to look for things to do. Without distractions, your mind will find ways to occupy itself.  Maybe you’ll read books, clean out closets, take up knitting or start painting or writing.

Do ten sit-ups when you get home.  Go for a walk around the block. Turn on some music and dance around your living room. All of these things may seem silly and small, but they are getting you moving.

When I get off track with my writing, I become lazy and start procrastinating.  Like you, I will eat crappy food and watch hours of bad television.  (I once sat for five hours watching Swamp People. Seriously? Swamp People?!)  And that’s when I know it’s time for me to make myself get busy.  I force myself to sit in front of the computer without any distractions.  I will not allow myself to leave. Let me tell you, staring at a blank computer screen is incredibly dull. Eventually it gets SO boring that I can’t stand it, and I start writing. After a few days, there’s a shift, and I actually look forward to having that time to write. I get excited about the project I am working on because I am moving toward something.  Then, the joy comes back.  I remember that I love to write more than I love The Housewives of New Jersey, or Orange County or Atlanta or Los Angeles.

I rarely make promises, but I promise you, this will happen for you too if you start making changes. All of those negative feelings will be alleviated when your focus is on something outside yourself. Who knows what amazing things are waiting to come into your life! But you must first get up off the couch, turn off the television and start walking down the path to meet them.


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  1. Truth. Deciding to apply to grad school (then taking on an editorial role here once I got in and had a few months to kill) totally changed my life. I feel like my life is amazing on infinite levels, and my happiness and joy is reflected back to me, over and over. (Yes, I still get depressed too, but I know now that it doesn’t last forever.)

  2. Great advice. I agree, do something – now. Isn’t there an old saying that goes like, “if you do what you always do, you’ll get what you always get”? I pulled myself up out of a huge hole late last year – that downward slide just happens and you barely notice it but hell, slumped at the bottom looking back up & knowing it’s the only way… I won’t be doing that again.

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