A reader writes in:

hi pat, I have a hypothetical question for you. well its not hypothetical its about me personally, nothing to do with dating more with character building.

Im having a really hard time being happy/finding happiness, its from within yes, i believe but i make others so happy and they love being around me but I feel empty inside often. even with women man only ppl i feel a sort of joy around are my  close friends (like brothers) and im not a loner type. im an ENTP im very social and generally a good time lol, I just dont get this. its been like this for a while. 

just a run down of a couple of things that happened lately: *friend of 16 yrs died (the big S)*

family members contracted COVID in ICU doing 50/50*

been overly busy with work hours 7 days almost +10 hrs a day.

not a recipe for euphoria haha but I dont know anymore, i dont think i should feel this empty.  so i was looking for another perspective or for relativity in this spot

In preparation for my solo, fasted trek into the Appalachians next week, I’ve been reading a very dense, mythological book about initiations called Iron John.

One of the chapters goes heavily into the idea that men need to descend, at least once in their lives, into a spiritual morass; a collapse of some sort — a katabasis, so to speak.

And one of the ways Robert Bly (the author) describes such events coming on in a man is through depression.

I don’t know the full details of your life through what you’ve described, but it sounds like you’re going through one of these such events right now.

Indeed, many of us are — especially those who have put off the deeper work. This COVID period is forcing a collective “dark night of the soul.” We need to confront both individually and societally the “sludge” — what’s been holding us back.

So, what is it for you?

Work sounds like it’s a grind, and not all that fulfilling. And it also sounds like you’ve been living a lot of your life trying to make other people happy, rather than yourself.

The only people who don’t do that are your friends, who sound like they’re in a similar situation as you. It’s you guys against the world. One of that gang committing suicide, however, is an indication that there isn’t a lot of vision, and a lot of just getting by or giving up.

Unless you want to end up as a statistic, you need to confront the malaise behind all of this and take it seriously.

The internal suffering is coming from a sense that you are not living the life you were meant to live. The external drudgery is a reflection of this internal suffering.

What that life is, however, I don’t know from your email. Perhaps it’s something we can explore in coaching.

But I want to at least emphasize for you and everyone listening that such periods of pain are not things to be afraid of, and that indeed, we should practice opening ourselves up them.

I talk about this a lot in the revised masterclass coming out in a month.

But becoming open in these periods of doubt and dissatisfaction — this is how we learn, and integrate. And yes, how we build character… by leaning into the storm.

Closing off doesn’t stop the pain, it only prolongs and amplifies it.

So I strongly encourage you to feel into what’s hurting at the moment. And be willing to listen to what that pain tells you.

Because otherwise, there will be consequences. What starts as a mild depression will crescendo into an unbearable hell.

Anyway, if you want help moving this pain quickly?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who can guide you through it better than me.

And with the world shut down, and my rates still a month away from increasing… there won’t be a better time to do it than now.

If you’re interested, apply here: www.patstedman.com/application

– Pat