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  • Writer's pictureSherri M. Herman

What To Do When You're Never Satisfied

Do you ever find yourself struggling with discontent? Just this underlying dissatisfaction with your life?

I’ve spent decades chasing after more and better. And you know what? That rat race makes me feel burned out, disconnected, and lonely. And then I’ll blame the people or circumstances around me for it. Pretty spiritual, right?

Sound familiar? C'mon, you know you've done it too. You won't get any judgement from me.

But, I've learned how to approach my discontent in a way that can bring sheer bliss. And I want to share that with you.

What To Do When You're Never Satisfied, Sherri M Herman

Sometimes an outward change is necessary.

So far in my life, I’ve been able to make changes to satisfy my unrest or my longings. I don’t think it’s all bad. Many times I believe that I’m genuinely responding to a call from within that’s more aligned with who God wants me to be and how God wants me to be in this world. 

Yes, sometimes that nagging feeling you have inside is legitimately calling you to make a change, learn, or grow by going back to school, starting a new job, ending that bad relationship, or making that move you've been thinking about for months.

But sometimes you're simply caught in restless angst.

You know that feeling of being unsettled or ill at ease without knowing exactly why? It’s like an internal itch that you're trying to scratch by changing something on the outside (or eating more cookies) and it just never quite satisfies the itch.

Can you relate?

I know without a doubt there’s going to come a time when you or I can’t change things on the outside to satisfy an unrest on the inside. I’ve been there before, I’ll be there again. And I know you have too.

And at some point, those limits are only going to multiply and we'll have two options: to fight against the reality of life's limits and increase our suffering, or to accept our limits and sink into our feelings with presence and compassion. 

I suppose there’s a third option of getting lost in a drunken stupor but that’s not really me. 

And I hope it's not you.

This is exactly why I need silent meditation retreats. 

meditation mudra

Have you ever been?

When I was more formally practicing Zen Buddhism at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center (MZMC), I used to attend group meditation retreats more often. Now I really enjoy solo retreats. 

I purposefully schedule solo, silent meditation retreats every so often because they force me to stop doing and to stop chasing better and more; they help me focus inward rather than being focused on others around me. 

I don't know about you but I know that if I'm not careful, I can become way to focused on everyone else but myself. And not in a helpful way.

Several years ago I was on a silent retreat at MZMC in early December for Rohatsu - the annual observation of Buddha’s enlightenment. The full retreat is a total of seven days but I attended for four, which was the max I could do without interfering with my custody schedule. It was pretty cold. The nearby lake was beginning to freeze and the neighborhood was decorated for Christmas. 

Silent meditation retreats create space for inward connection.

A multi-day Zen retreat is much like going into a sensory deprivation chamber; you spend a lot of time staring at a blank wall or at the floor and make every attempt to avoid eye contact with other people so that you even avoid non-verbal communication. I know, extreme, right? It's all by design -- to keep your focus inward.

Some people choose to take breaks and go outside, but for this retreat I was purposefully staying inside to really limit my sensory experience. I was going “all in” with the limited time I had. (I know, I'm so Type-A!)

The first couple of days were hard. Yes there were times that I felt extreme boredom, restlessness, and a lot of discontent. However, I think my most challenging moment was an evening where I was struggling with holding back hysterical laughter.

Yes, hysterical laughter. Honestly, that may have been the hardest moment. I have absolutely no clue why I was laughing so hard, it just hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't want to disrupt anyone else's zazen (zen meditation). I just know that if you sit and stare at a well for several days straight, you’re going to feel everything

If you are compassionately present to your discomfort long enough, there is a peaceful bliss available to you on the other side. 

woman meditating with smile

By the third night, I felt more settled. More still. I felt like I got below the noise and muck of my mind. 

I felt called to venture outside.

Y’all, I was awestruck. 

I had completely forgotten it was the Christmas season (heck, I forgot it was winter). When I saw the city lights, it was as if I had never seen civilization before. I was smiling from ear to ear in wonder and amazement. I felt profoundly connected to and grateful for everything. 

Not a speck of discontent in my entire being.

Imagine being 5 years old and getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas from the real Santa Claus.

I imagine my experience is what that that 5-year-old would feel like.

Do you know this feeling?

Sadly, you cannot live in perpetual bliss. 

Say it ain’t so! 

Yes, it’s true. Although the immersive experience of a multi-day silent retreat can lead to big and profound spiritual experiences of connection and presence, you cannot stay in that space forever. You wouldn’t be able to function or really live your life. And if you began to chase the emotional high of an opening experience, well then you’ve fallen back in the trap of chasing better and more. Drat!

However, retreats are not the only way to strengthen your spiritual muscles for being more present. Just having the intention to be more present is huge. Start by objectively observing your thoughts, as if they were dust particles floating across the room. Let them float on by. 

Take any inanimate object, or the wall, and look at it for even just 3 minutes and practice returning your attention to this item over and over. 

Incorporate prayer to feel connected and soothed. 

woman praying

It’s not so much that prayer makes any of your unpleasant feelings go away, but prayer helps you to embrace them; to hold them with compassion and to feel soothed.

And from a neurological standpoint, when you practice internally guided prayer with loving and compassionate language, you activate parts of the brain that help with self-soothing and your body releases helpful and good-feeling hormones, like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. 

Isn’t that amazing? Your body is already equipped with everything you need to feel content and soothed.

Nowadays, when my restlessness and discontent comes up, I try to be compassionately present to it and then turn inward and pray, “God, will you please meet me where I’m at? Will you please help me bring love to this part of me that feels so empty and unsatisfied? Will you help me feel meaning in what is already here, and help me feel entirely connected to you and all that is around me? Please bring clarity to this unrest. Thank you for holding me in this.”

Is there a prayer or practice that helps you become more present or soothed amidst your own discontentedness or unrest? I’d love to know. 

If you would like some help or guidance with practicing prayer, check out my free, 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love. I'll send you an email every day for 5 days with affirmations and prayers designed to help you attract the love and connection your heart longs for.

From Loneliness to Love 5 Day Email Series, Sherri M Herman

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Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you!

And remember,

you are always loved no matter what.

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What To Do When You're Never Satisfied, Sherri M Herman

Sherri M Herman, spiritual life coach, speaker, psychotherapist, MN,

Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love

I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to schedule a free support session with me and I'll help you assess what you're needing.


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