When Jane first came to see me she was quite down. Not depressed but certainly out of sorts. "There’s nothing seriously wrong" she said, "and certainly nothing to see a doctor or a therapist about. But I’m just not very happy at the moment. I feel blue too often, and I don’t know why."
Jane was in her late 40s and smartly dressed in a grey business suit and a light blue silk blouse. She worked as a senior administrator in a major law firm in the city and everything about her spoke of efficiency and professionalism. Her husband, Bill, was a solicitor in a different firm and she had two teenage daughters, Christina and Louise.
"Everyone thinks we have the perfect life", Jane said, "Even I do! I have everything I had ever wished for when I was a teenager like Chrissy and Loo. I just can’t understand why it doesn’t seem enough. Am I a terrible person for feeling blue and wanting more? I don’t even know what it is that I want more of!"
"How long have you felt this way?" I asked.
"For years really" she replied "but it has been getting worse over the last 18 months or so."
"Can you remember a time when you didn’t feel so blue?"
"I suppose it would be when the girls were younger. Maybe about 10 years ago. I was frantically busy in those days and often exhausted. Maybe I just didn’t have time to feel blue. Once both girls started school I went back to work part time. But Bill was working very long hours so most of the household chores fell to me. And when Bill got a promotion, we moved to a nice new house so there was all the decorating to organise and a new kitchen and furniture to sort out. Gosh, I was busy!"
"What did you enjoy most about those days?"
"Do you know what? I hadn’t really thought of it before but I think it was just looking after the girls. We were so close. They are less than two years apart in age so they’ve always been great friends as well as sisters. After tea we liked to play a game together, something like "Sorry". And then sometimes we’d all play with the girls’ "Beanie Babies". Do you remember them? We’d make up stories together about the various animals. Or sometimes we’d all just snuggle under a duvet and take turns reading. They are such happy memories. I feel quite emotional even thinking about it"
I think you can guess the outcome of this story. Jane did talk it over with her family and they too were worried that she would find going to the Hospice too draining and upsetting. But when we next talked it over she decided that if that was the case she could always give it up. It was not as if it was going to be an irreversible decision. So she did volunteer; and it has quite simply transformed her life. Instead of upsetting her, the children brought her a joy and happiness beyond anything she could have imagined. And, of course, she now brings that joy with her wherever she goes – back home, at work and with her friends. She still looks as professional and efficient as ever. But she has a glint in her eye these days which tells you about another side to her: A side full of warmth and compassion.
The key to Jane’s transformation was the identification of "caring for others" as one of her core values. Everyone has between 6-10 core values that need to be met in order for them to feel contented and fulfilled. But everyone is unique. No two people have the same set of values and many people do not have "caring for others" as one of their main values.
It only takes around an hour with a good life coach to reveal your core values but the benefits can be felt for a lifetime. To find out more about life coaching and to learn about how it can help you understand your own core values please visit my website using the link below.