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Episode Summary of The Grow Through It Podcast with Phi Dang, 05: River of Misery
This episode is all about the river of misery. A deeply uncomfortable place between where you start and where you want to be. I talk about different scenarios where the river of misery happens such as in dating, relationships, ex partners, health, weight and fitness. I share practical tips on overcoming the river of misery too.
What you'll learn from this episode
(01:32) Why I am talking about the river of misery
(02:00) How you feel in the river of misery
(02:26) What is the river of misery?
(02:51) The pond of misery (ain’t just a river of misery!)
(03:43) Example of river of misery (e.g. dating a commitment phobe, someone who won’t commit to you, an ex partner)
(06:59) A willing river of misery, my battle with my weight and fitness
(09:47) My river of misery when I got myself got stuck (relationships related)
(12:40) Dealing with feelings of shame, embarrassment and disappointment
(13:23) Falling into old habits and ways of thinking
(13:42) The hardest part of being in the river of misery
(14:27) Truth bomb on the river of misery
(15:42) The brain and the river of misery
(17:39) Getting out of the river of misery
Key Quotes from this Episode
Featured Resources on the episode
The Grow Through It Podcast with Phi Dang, 05: River of Misery, Show Transcript
You are listening to episode 5: River of Misery.
[Introduction to the Grow Through It Podcast With Phi Dang plays – Background Music: upbeat, confident, rising beat]:
Don’t just go through life, grow through it. Don’t just go through life, grow through it.
Hi and Welcome to the Grow Through It Podcast with Phi Dang.
My name is Phi and I am a Clarity and Confidence Life Coach known as the “The Positivity Queen.”
My passion is to help you go from stuck and self critical to courageous and empowered so you can conquer anything.
Join me, every Tuesday, as I discuss all things mindset, self love, energy and purpose.
This podcast won’t just inspire and motivate you, it will also provide practical tips and strategies you can implement in your daily life.
Ready to grow? Let’s grow!
[Grow Through It Podcast With Phi Dang End of Intro]
[Episode 05 – River of Misery: Begins]
Hi beautiful soul, are you feeling stuck and frustrated right now? Perhaps overwhelmed by everything going on in your life. If not, can you think back to a time when you were?
Why am I asking you these questions? Well this podcast episode is all about the river of misery. Oh yes, the river of misery.
When I first started to think about this episode I didn’t know where to begin or if I had enough material. Turns out I have a lot of information, practical examples and juicy insights to share so this episode may be on the longer side to manage your expectations.
The reason I’m talking to you about the river of misery today is that it continually pops up in my life coaching, when I talk to my clients and loved ones. At one point or the other whether they come to me as they are in the river of misery or experience it on the journey to making their goals and dreams happen, the river of misery is something we can all relate to at some point in our lives and it is not enjoyable.
When I think of the river of misery, I feel as if there is a lot going on against me and I feel overwhelmed. It feels like a river full of rapids coming at full force towards me and I’m struggling to stay afloat. The whole time I just feel just so damn uncomfortable. I feel tired and I just want it to end.
It’s a horrible place to be because you feel so frustrated, trapped and annoyed.
What is the river of misery?
The river of misery is place where you feel deeply uncomfortable and overwhelmed by everything that’s happening in your life.
How you end up in the river of misery may be by choice or not, but whether you continue to stay in the river of misery and end up stuck there… that’s a choice.
Let me run you by some scenarios of how this comes to be.
Pond of Misery
The pond of misery is well, safe. You know what to expect in the pond. Nothing drastic is happening, nothing is going to harm you. It’s not terribly uncomfortable like a river of misery but it’s unsatisfactory. Things could be better than being in the pond at all.
To get to where you want to be, now that’s a river of misery.
The river of misery involves being uncomfortable and doing hard things to get the result you want.
All these thoughts push against you going into this river for your safety, after all your brain has evolved to protect you. Your brain is always looking for danger.
“It is going be a lot of hard work”
“It is going to take a lot of investment. Time, energy, effort, money”
“What if I do all this stuff and it doesn’t work out, what if it is not worth it?”
“The pond is not that bad is it…? It’s not that bad… it’s not that bad you try to convince yourself.”
First type of river of misery and a river of misery scenario: Dating, relationships, ex partners
Let’s apply this example to a real life scenario such as getting stuck in and involved in an entanglement with someone you are seeing who won’t commit to being in a relationship with you or an ex partner even.
You’re not happy with the situation, this person you’re seeing is also dating other people and you’re probably fifth priority after their work, family, friends and other people they are dating.
I mean at least you get the occasional cuddle, probably the non strings attached intimacy (lets be real there are a lot of strings!!!), hey maybe they’ll even reply back to a text quickly once in a while.
It’s miserable to do a degree, but you’re some what used to it and familiar with it even though you are craving a fulfilling and committed relationship where you are a priority, when they make time for you, when you feel so loved and secure.
So in this pond of misery, no one is putting a gun to your head saying you have to keep seeing this person. Can you see the only person who got you in this pond of misery and is keeping you there is you?
So how do you get out of this pond of misery? Jumping into the river of misery to get to the other side: land.
The river of misery kicks it up a notch, you’re not dealing with a pond anymore, you’re dealing with a rapid river.
The river of misery for this scenario means letting go and cutting off the person you are dating. It means being alone for the time being. It means working on yourself and reflecting on how you got into this situation. Why you are in this situation. It means eventually having to start meeting people and going on dates again. It means opening up with new people as you date.
Your brain in this scenario starts panicking. This is hard! This is a lot of work! Let me go back to the pond! I wasn’t happy there but at least I was comfortable. I accepted it, I got used to it.
The river of misery won’t be comfortable or cruisy. I won’t lie to you, it’s called the river of misery for a reason. But what if you knew that going through the river of misery was worth it? That on the other side on the land, is a loving person who is ready to commit and have a beautiful relationship with you.
Are you willing to swim the river of misery and go through temporary discomfort and pain to get what you want? Like I mentioned in the previous episode number 4 on mental fitness and taking your brain to the gym, discomfort is the currency of your success just like working out at the gym to get fitter, leaner and stronger.
So back to the river of misery. It won’t last forever.
Eventually it gets easier as you get used to it. But in order to get to this place, you have to start in the deep end of the river of misery and swim towards land. You have to be willing to endure the river and to keep swimming until you get to the land. If you swim back to the pond, you’ll lose progress, battle the river and have to start again.
The brain likes security and comfort, that is how it’s hardwired. Can you reassure your brain that you are going through the river of misery for a purpose?
Can you put your purpose at the forefront of your mind? Can you feel and visualise how amazing it is going to be when you make your dreams come true?
My river of misery: health, fitness and weight
I’ve been in this type of river of misery lately.
My pond was being unhappy with my body and fitness levels.
To be completely transparent with you since COVID-19 hit, I stopped going to the gym 4 times a week where I used to weight train and do cardio based classes and now I don’t do any any exercise at all except walking and swimming.
I started eating a lot more because I was either bored or wanted comfort during hard times. I gained weight, in fact I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. And not it’s definitely muscle, it’s definitely fat I think.
Some of the clothes I own, I can no longer fit into or I have to really suck in my belly the whole time I’m wearing them – not fun and super uncomfortable.
Sure, a quick fix is to buy bigger clothing sizes but that doesn’t address the core issue.
Addressing the core issue is working on my mindset and getting fit – jumping into the river of misery by choice. The land is being happy, healthy and fit. So what does this river involve?
Waking up earlier to do some exercise before work. Making time to do grocery shopping on the weekend so I can prepare healthy meals instead of turning to instant food or processed food I can reheat. I’m embarrassed to admit this to you but I always have cans of chicken noodle soup at home for when I am too busy to cook! Let’s not forget the frugal favourite Mi Goreng too – 2 minute noodles. Can you tell I really like noodles?
Anyway back to it. That in itself is a river of misery, adapting to changing tastes (because I wish salads tasted as good as instant noodles or frozen pizza for lunch especially on a really busy day when it’s so comforting).
There is a river of misery working on my mindset, why I can’t be happy now at my body is and why it has to be when certain criteria is met. This whole situation is a river of misery but its worth it knowing my end result, happy, healthy and fit!
The second type of river of misery: being stuck
Now there’s also another river of misery which is when you are just stuck because you are so miserable with how you are, your thoughts and the world around you.
I’ve seen this with my clients who are stuck in their past and finding it hard to get over someone because they thought they were the one. I’ve seen this in clients who think that they can’t be positive because they just have so many negative thoughts all the time and they think they are powerless to change it. I’ve seen this with my clients who continually compare themselves to other people and end up feeling insecure and jealous all the time.
My second type of river of misery: being single
I remember being in this type of river of misery because well I got myself there and I was keeping myself stuck (even though it took me a while to consciously and truly realise what I was doing!).
At one point in my life when I was single, I was so frustrated and sick of dating because nothing seemed to be working out for me. At the time I felt I just kept dating people who weren’t looking for a relationship time and time again. This really sucked for me. It was made harder by the fact I had been single for long stretches of time, years!
To get to the other side where I was happy dating and enjoying dating I needed to do the hard work to figure out why this was happening to me. After all the common denominator in all the scenarios was well… me!
It was easy to just blame anything and everything outside of me, to be honest.
“Oh there’s no good people to do date out there, they are all taken”
“Everyone is a commitment phobe these days, everyone always thinks that the grass is greener on the other side”
“It’s so hard to find a relationship these days”
“Are there any decent and respectful people out there dating anymore?”
Do you know what was hard, really hard?
Realising it wasn’t any of these things at all.
That in fact, it was in fact my thoughts.
That was a bitter pill to swallow but do you know what was even harder than this realisation?
Jumping into the river of misery.
Doing the work to get to a place where I was in a good mindset, enjoying dating and seeing it as a fun journey.
Doing the work meant confronting myself. Being honest with myself. Not pretending or saying the right things. Pure honesty.
What was I really looking for?
Why did I want a relationship?
Was I looking for love outside myself before being getting to be in love with who I was and who I am?
Did I know my worth? Did I actually think I was worthy of happy, loving and healthy relationship?
Why was I dating people who weren’t looking for a relationship?
Why was I choosing these people?
I had to start moving and swimming in the river of misery instead of just staying put in the same spot of the river of misery.
I had to be intentional with dating. I had to consciously vet out people who weren’t in alignment with what I wanted and who I wanted to be with no matter what. I had to stop settling for less then I deserved. I had to stop making excuses for people. I had to put myself out there and be vulnerable. I had to make an effort to go on dates again and get to know someone. I had to open up to people. I had to walk the walk and talk the talk.
At first moving in the river of misery was hard. I had admit things to myself that I didn’t want to because I was ashamed of myself, I was embarrassed about my situation, I felt disappointed in myself for making mistakes and being in this situation longer than I wanted to.
And it’s okay to feel this way, we are only human after all. Always be kind to yourself. Always do things out of love to yourself. Even though I wasn’t in my ideal situation I was and am still loveable and so are you whatever scenario you are in. Lead with love not hate.
I had to swim through those hard emotions. At times moving in the river meant I would go backwards and fall into old habits and ways of thinking. But that’s okay, you catch yourself or make a mistake and keep moving forward. Sometimes you drift backwards a bit and then make up for it and move even more towards the land.
The hardest part of the river of misery
One thing is for sure the hardest part is just getting started, once I got started doing the work it got easier. An analogy of this is that it’s hard to go on your first date after you haven’t been on one in a long time. Once you’ve got on that first date, going on more dates doesn’t seem as hard as that first date.
Another example is that it’s hard to get motivation to start going to the gym once you’ve had a long time off but it’s easier to add weights to your fitness routine or run a longer distance once you are already exercising.
A hard truth about the river of misery
Back to the river of misery in this scenario, I’m going to drop a truth bomb.
Do we stay stuck in the river of misery well because we enjoy being in misery?
Hear me out. If you have been miserable for a while, misery starts to get comfortable. After all you are used to being miserable to the point where it becomes a part of your identity.
Poor me, I’m miserable. I’m miserable all the time. Misery is who I am.
When you’re in misery it gives your brain a reason as to why you are in misery. You can them blame all of the circumstances for causing your misery. Have you ever considered if you are a source of your misery? Have you ever tried to turn the focus from everything happening to you and turn it inward? What is happening inside you to keep the misery going on?
Can I offer you a radical thought? What if you chose to step away from the identity of being miserable. You radically actually chose to not be miserable. You choose to stop making excuses and blaming external factors and turn inwards. Take responsibility for your happiness, you aren’t stuck. Get out of the river of misery by swimming!
Getting out of the river will feel uncomfortable but it will be worth it.
Your brain and the river of misery
Remember, the brain likes to be efficient. It likes routines. It likes easy. So when you break routine, when you challenge ways of thinking your brain doesn’t like it. Your brain will probably say to you “Hey you know what, you don’t have to be uncomfortable if you just stay stuck. Stop wanting more or different. Let’s continue with this current way of thinking, after all you have thought like this for ages and let’s stay comfortable doing nothing different.”
Moreover your brain has confirmation bias, it wants to prove itself right. So if you keep on believing your thoughts keeping you stuck, your brain will continue to find evidence of your limiting beliefs and as a result you stay stuck.
Let’s add in the fact as mentioned earlier that your brain is trying to protect you from danger too and guess what? Doing new things, having new thoughts, new actions is perceived as dangerous to your primitive mind. The cave man mind. The cave man mind was always on alert, there was always threats around without modern technology and evolution!
You have to understand that if you want change, it means doing something different. Whatever you are doing right now is keeping you in the river of misery.
There is no circumstance which means you can’t get out of the river of misery, as I always tell me clients – you can always do something. If you can’t change whatever is happening, you CAN change your mind.
It means changing your thoughts intentionally. It means taking action. It means hard work. It means getting out of your comfort zone. Trust in yourself, you can do hard things. Do this for future you. Do it for you!
If you’re in a river of misery, you can get out of there. I promise you, you can.
Do the hard work and you get get out of there.
Struggling in the river of misery? Need Help?
If you’re struggling let’s chat, I’d love to connect with you this is what coaches do. A life coach helps you cross the river. A life coach shows you how you are stuck in a pond of misery. A life coach helps you master your thoughts to get across the river easier. A life coach will throw in the emergency buoy and help you.
I am a life coach and I can help you. I have helped many people from the river of misery to land. Now? They thrive and conquer anything including rivers of misery.
The Grow Through It Podcast with Phi Dang, 05: River of Misery close
Whatever you do, just keep swimming! You’ve got this.
I’ll see you in the river of misery and I’ll see you on the land!
Chat to you next Tuesday for the next episode of The Grow Through it Podcast with Phi Dang.
Thanks for listening, speak soon.
Love and Positivity.
[Episode 05 – River of Misery: Ends]
Are you wanting to find out more about 1:1 Coaching or working with me? Maybe perhaps you want to know more about me. I’d love to connect with you. You can visit my website phidang.com or connect with me on Instagram @thephidang. Speak to you soon.