Are You Living Like The Walking Dead?

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This Sunday, AMC premiered the 8th season of The Walking Dead with the series’ 100th episode.  It’s fascinating to see how much this show has maintained its popularity through the past 8 years.  Part of the draw in our culture toward TV and movies that focus on zombies is that on some level, we can relate.

Have you ever heard yourself or someone else utter the phrase, “I feel like a zombie”?  Whether it’s because we’re exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, we can find ourselves having a hard time functioning.  While feeling exhausted might be remedied by a good night’s sleep, sometimes we feel like zombies caught in the day-to-day of our lives.  We can be emotionless and struggle to make it through each day.  We lose sight of our hopes and dreams for the future, as the fog of everyday stress fills our mind.

One hallmark trait of zombies is their insatiable hunger.  That hunger is what makes them so dangerous.

At the same time, we can relate to the sense of being hungry for something more.

We desire for our lives to have meaning and purpose, to feel content and whole, but we often settle for filling our hunger with things that don’t satisfy.  We can become addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food, or gambling.  We can become entangled in dysfunctional or codependent relationships.  We might fill our lives with things that make us busy so we don’t have time to feel longing for more.  We might spend our money on bigger and better things as an attempt to make us feel happy.  But sadly, none of these satisfy us.

What are you hungry for?

What are the things that you desire?  If you’ve numbed out in any of the above ways, it’s likely that question hasn’t crossed your mind in some time.  Nothing may come to mind for you.  Here are a few questions that might help spark your curiosity:

  • If you could change one area in your life that would make it infinitely better, what would it be?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and have the life you want, what would it look like?
  • What do you daydream about?  Why?  What will that give you?
  • What were the things you loved to do as a child?  What did you want to be when you grew up?

As you answer these questions, you may come across desires that aren’t practical or helpful.  For example, if you daydream about having an affair or quitting work to play video games all day, that likely isn’t a desire that will serve you well in life.  However, these daydreams provide clues to your desire.  For example, if you daydream about an affair because your marriage feels like you’re living parallel lives, it can point out a desire for more intimacy in your marriage.  If you desire to play video games all day because you hate your job, that’s a clue that you want something more out of your career.

Keep in mind that this may be a painful process.  Identifying desires breaks the pattern of numbing out and opens us up to feeling longing, sadness, loneliness, anger, and a whole host of other emotions.  But in order for you to feel joy and contentment with your life, you need to be able to move through these negative emotions as well.  I love the book Desire by John Eldredge that outlines how desire is both crucially important and so difficult to engage with.

How do I come back to life?

You’ve identified your desires: now what?  Just identifying desires can lead us back into numbing out if we don’t have a concrete idea on how to move forward into those desires. 

To start, choose one desire you’re feeling in your life.  Typically it’s best to identify the desire that has the most energy or emotion tied to it.   It could be related to your career, your relationships, your spiritual life, or your hobbies.  Next, what is one step you can take to move yourself closer to that desire?  Start with the end goal and trace each step back until you get to a manageable first step.

An example from my own life: I want to be a skilled home baker.  I’m obsessed with watching the Great British Baking Show and Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, and I dream about crafting beautiful and delicious desserts.  But the amount of knowledge these bakers have is beyond my competence.  How do I trace it back?.  In order to be a skilled home baker, I need to learn different recipes and methods of baking desserts.  I need understand the chemistry of baking.  I need to practice.  A next step might be to check out a book at the library about baking to read, to sample a new recipe, or to watch a YouTube video about cake decorating.

But what if I don’t know what to do?

Like the CDC developing a cure for the plague, or The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes forging a new community, you need a guide who can give you direction on where to go and how to get there.  Often, the process of coming back to life is long and arduous.  Like a trek through a mountain, it can be easy to become discouraged when looking at the summit instead of the next step in front of you.  You might slip back into old patterns in that discouragement.

As a therapist, I function as a guide in areas of your life where you feel stuck.  My role is to help you identify and engage with your desires, break down desire into manageable goals, and walk with you as you make progress on your climb up the mountain.  When I see you slipping back into numbing out through addictive behaviors, it is my role to lead you back to the path to your desire.  In the process, I believe that you’ll see areas of your life slowly become more vibrant and in alignment with what you desire.  Hope will grow and flourish as you begin to see these dreams becoming a reality.

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Do you feel like you’re shuffling through your life instead of thriving in it?  Do you hunger for something more, but have a hard time figuring out what that is?  Maybe you know what you desire, but the path to getting there feels overwhelming and exhausting.  At Restored Hope, we want to guide you along the path to embodying a vibrant and full life, rather than just surviving.  We offer counseling sessions at our therapy offices in Novi and Ann Arbor to help you along the path to a more fulfilling life.  Give us a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here today to hear more about how we can help.