Comfortable In Your Own Skin

Do you wish you were someone else?

Do you wish you could be yourself but behave in a way very different from your current self?

Baalei teshuvas (BT’s) want to live a different life, to have a closer connection to G-D, to practice religion.

Conversely there are many observant youth who have lost their faith and have become less observant in practice . So much so, the organization Footsteps, exists to help to smooth the transition into the secular and less observant world of disaffected Yiddish speaking Hasidim who feel constricted by the rigors of their observant upbringing.  

Being comfortable in your own skin is a prerequisite to happiness to feeling fulfilled and accomplished.

People who are excessively overweight and adolescents who suffer from anorexia are uncomfortable with their body image  – an emotional turmoil that belies their physical and biomedical risks.

There is too significant a number of alcoholics and drug dependent who escape into an abyss, a temporary illusion that all is well while their cognition is severely impaired. Often these addicts are not clearheaded on what or where they want to be, only that who they are now does not satisfy them.

These examples are fundamental to ones essence for being.

This is not about wishing you won the lottery or dreaming about that far away island you wish to get away to.This is wishing you were able to be someone very different from who you are today – often accompanied by a feeling of  a profound lack of accomplishment.

I have interviewed too many men and women of all ages who wished they were married to a different person, who wished they had chosen a different career path, who wished they could have that one “do over”. When these thoughts are more than occasional, when they become a constant rejoinder in your mind –  it can create a severe disruption in your state of happiness.

What makes a janitor happy while a millionaire is depressed? What is it about the person with a graduate degree who landed the job of a lifetime yet is still searching?
It may just be a statistical truism that not all people can be accomplished, fulfilled or happy. That it is just a normal occurrence.

With 315 million Americans even a miniscule percentage just 1% leaves 3 million in this category. A bell curve where there is always a % at either end of the spectrum.

Percentages may be good for the other guy but not if you’re that person uncomfortable in your skin.

There are many people living with a broad range of psychiatric disabilities including depression or personality disorder who often feel a state of un-fulfillment even abandonment. This is a manifestation of their illness.

Or a person deeply unsettled by a lifelong apology not yet made. A secret he should unburden catapulting the lives of two people in a positive direction. What of the father who molested his daughter?
You would expect him, want him to be in pain for what he did and begin the healing with an apology. Yet it is the daughter, the victim, who daily suffers that pain.

Family. Friends. Faith. 
Any one of these three or in combination can provide that door, a support system to help a person move closer towards realizing their goal even their dream. Family, Friends, Faith represent potential anchors in a person’s life that in times of uncertainty, unhappiness, even despair can provide the crucial support a person so desperately seeks.

Talking it out, unburdening yourself to family, friends, faith can greatly help in such situations. A well regarded professional therapist may also be a good option to help you deal with this inner turmoil.

A woman living in Israel once told me how her daughter went to the mountains of Tibet searching for the meaning of life.
A young Jewish woman left Israel to Tibet to search for life’s meaning?  Poignantly, so often the answer to our most complex inner questions, stare us in the face.

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York