Updated: Mar 23
Who, or what, in your life sparks joy?
Who, or what, in your life gives you a soulgasm?
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I want to avoid one thing when writing this post: to sound like a cheap Instagram philosopher. Please forgive me, dear reader, if the words and sentiments in this post verge into the realm of Instagram philosophy.
This post follows my most recent article ‘The Lonely Diplomat: on our soulaches’ in which I shared my thoughts on the causes of our soulaches while living our diplomatic lives.
If you’ve not read that post, I invite you to do so now. Click this link to read it and reflect on the question I ask.
This will take you at least a few days to read and ponder your response. I’ll wait right here until you’ve read it.
Great! Welcome back.
If you’ve read ‘on our soulaches’, how was that question for you? What did you learn about yourself and how you’re living your diplomatic life? Was it a comfortable realisation that what you’re doing differs from who you are?
Or have you just kept reading this post to see where it’s going and not read ‘on our soulaches’? If this is you, I’ll simply ask you this question:
Where else in life are you short-cutting, or even ignoring, the ‘bad’ or uncomfortable to focus on the ‘good’ and easy when it comes to your self?
We cannot experience joy without knowing despair. We cannot experience connection without knowing loneliness.
And yet, here we are, often running straight to the solution, to the good, to the pleasurable, to the answer, without wanting to spend time with the bad, the painful and asking difficult questions of ourselves.
It takes courage to sit and experience our soulaches. I deeply admire those who sit in it, learn from it and then – and only then – take action. I admire, honour and recognise their courage. I admire, honour and recognise your courage.
If you’ve glossed over ‘on our soulaches’, go back and read it. You’re more capable of courageous things than you can ever give yourself credit.
What’s the problem?
Once we’re aware of our soulaches and what’s caused them – or is still causing them – we can want to stay in the awful feelings that a soulache can have us feeling. We can do this because we feel that we’re a bad person and that these feelings are somehow deserved.
Indeed, many of us (myself included) can interact with the world outside of ourselves from a place where we are feverishly trying to atone for our own perceived mistakes and personal shortcomings. We run from something to prove that the opposite to what we feel is true. This is shame. And shame is a powerful behavioural driver for humans – including diplomats – and especially for high-achieving humans (like diplomats).
Our success can, in part, come from trying so hard to prove the voice within us wrong. It can come from trying to prove ‘people’ – that amorphous concept describing everyone and no one – wrong. It can come from us desperately wanting to prove our worth.
In all of this, we can forget or at least lose sight of that in our lives that brings us joy.
Once we focus on the soulache, we can forget about the soulgasm.
You are worthy of your soulgasms. You are allowed to run towards those people and things that give you joy.
Please read that again and let it sink in.
For diplomats and those who live the diplomatic life
For all the sacrifices, concessions and trade-offs we make, so much of this diplomatic life we lead is amazing. Of course, work is work is work, no matter what you do and where you are, but there is a reason why so many of us stay in diplomacy for our entire careers.
While we can focus on what frustrates us about the job, what do you love about it? What gets your legs swinging out of bed and putting your feet onto the floor each morning?
What are we to do?
Consider these questions:
Do your actions align with your intentions?
Does your diplomatic life have you feeling seen, feeling heard and feeling like you belong?
This question was, for me, critical in helping me reconnect with why I loved my job. I loved how my work, in a small way, contributed to building modern Australia. As a motivator, this was a far more powerful for me than my employing agency’s mission statement. It helped me put the petty office politics and the innumerable demands on my time and attention into perspective. It helped me make – and maintain – boundaries. I found joy in my work again. I was connected to my purpose.
If your work doesn’t give you a soulgasm, or if it hasn’t for a long time, what are you doing?
If a relationship – be it a friendship or a romantic relationship – doesn’t give you a soulgasm, or if it hasn’t for a long time, why are you there?
If a thing doesn’t give you a soulgasm, or it if hasn’t for a long time, what’s it doing in your life?
Once you’ve identified who and what gives you a soulgasm, can you allow yourself to experience it?
Beyond the work context, do the people in your life see you, hear you and have you feeling like you belong?
And you have a choice, and you can choose to experience your soulgasms now. With this in mind, let's have some fun!
I'll be taking a photo a day over this coming week of someone - or some thing - that brings me joy or a soulgasm and posting on my Instagram. No explanation or justification is needed. It's your soulgasm, after all.
You don’t have to do this soulache/soulgasm-while-living-the-diplomatic-life-thing alone. Indeed, in doing it alone, you’re missing a great chance to get more of the kind of connection you need in your life. I’m here to help, support, challenge and inspire you. I’d love to talk with you and help you if you feel that I can listen and help. Simply go here to arrange your call.
Further, Kevin Huntting and his coaching services are here for you as is Jaqueline Benndorf and her online psychotherapy services. Go here to connect with them.
Want to know more?
Ep, 28 - on our soulgasms (from 29 August 2020)
Phil McAuliffe, ‘The Lonely Diplomat: reconnecting with yourself and the world around you’ (amazon.com)
This post covered the central themes of diplomacy, loneliness and connection.
Important notice: All views expressed above are my own and do not reflect any official position. The words published above are intended to support, challenge and inspire diplomats and those living the diplomatic life as they reconnect with themselves and the world around them. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional.