Being Happy in Relationship
Being happy is an amazing goal! I want everybody to be happy. I want everybody to be able to be okay in their own skin. I want everybody to be excited when they get up in the morning. I want everybody to be okay.
Truth be told, my original goal was happiness in a lot of ways. I had some external things that I wanted to change to create that, but at the core of it was a need to simply be happy.
Happiness for me meant taking my power back, making my own choices, doing my own thing, and living my life on my own terms. Happiness for me meant being okay in my own skin and not being terrified to breathe every second of every day.
To get there though, I had to deal with me first. I had to make myself the priority and decide that the way for me to be okay was to put myself at the top of my own list. This is the first place the argument happens isn’t it? This is the first place we run into trouble. We are taught to put everybody and the kitchen sink before ourselves. Why are we taught this? Because the people teaching it didn’t know better.
Empathy and compassion do not require us to self-sacrifice. Love does not require us to be martyrs. You can and should stay in your power when you decide to help others. You can and should learn to be okay even when people around you are struggling. The adults around you all have their own paths and your job is not to prevent them from going down the path. You may not like where you think that path is going, but it’s not your job to change it. That means you can put yourself first and not worry about doing a dis-service to anybody else.
When you heal you offer everybody around you a better way forward. You show them a better example. You offer them truth. You stop arguing with them. You stop defending the problems. You stop defending yourself needlessly. You stop creating dysfunction. You offer healthy relationships and balance. You offer healthy boundaries. You offer meaningful relationships. You offer compassion and empathy not co-dependency.
Your ability to heal is your super power, but to use that super power you have to put yourself first. You have to make that okay for yourself. How do you make that okay for yourself? By understanding the value of the journey and the reward of being successful with it. I’ve already pointed out some of those rewards. Those are the reasons why you do this. They are the reasons why this is okay to do. They are the reasons you commit to the journey.
Your reasons why not simply defend the problem. You defend the dysfunction in your relationships with all the reasons why you think you can’t. You’re worried about what the people that are offering you dysfunctional relationships will think about your healing journey. Why do you want to stay in dysfunctional relationships? Why are you defending dysfunctional relationships with stories about what other people won’t like?
You’re right, they didn’t ask for change. They didn’t ask for you to change and they will have to deal with that and it will give them two choices. If they want the relationship they are going to have to come on their part of the journey. If they don’t want the relationship then they get to walk away.
What is their part of the journey? To realize that you are no longer picking up their chaos. To realize that you will no longer argue with them. To understand that if they choose to engage in old ways of being, that you will no longer play those games. If they continue to persist in that, they will find themselves alone in the game.
When you learn to hold your power you no longer have a reason to leave relationships. You can learn how to be okay regardless of what the other person is doing. You may make that relationship rather difficult for them to be in if they don’t want to change, but it won’t be because you’re fighting or arguing or defending. It will be because you simply stop playing the game.
When I tell you that your power is within you, it’s because it’s true. It’s because you can’t control what other people are doing, but you can learn how to manage yourself so that you don’t have to give into other people’s pain. You also don’t have to argue with them. Your control is entirely within you. When people say stuff, you can drop it and walk away. You don’t need to defend yourself. You don’t need to act on what they are telling you. You can simply drop it. You don’t have to do anything. When you learn that it changes how you show up in relationships.
Your control comes in your ability to consciously choose your response to what’s happening. It also comes in your ability to understand the pain that other people are projecting. From our rather limited viewpoints of other people, we have to figure out how their pain is showing up in their behavior. Is it through manipulation? Is it through insults? Is it through defensiveness? Is it through control? Is it through not saying anything? Is it through giving in? Is through giving up? Is it through walking away?
When you can clearly see their behavior and not inject pain and not inject stories of why they are doing those things, then you can begin to figure out a better conscious response for yourself.
When the attempt is manipulation and control, you can simply not do the thing they are requesting. You don’t have to argue, just don’t do the thing.
When the attempt is defensiveness, just don’t engage. Just let them be defensive.
When the attempt is insults, you don’t defend yourself. Better yet, if they are offering you your own pain, agree with them. Watch how that changes things!
When they just walk away and give up, let them and then make your own choices and do your own thing.
You don’t have to play, ever. You have to be able to see the outside world clearly though, otherwise you end up playing into these things and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
I played into some of these things for years because I didn’t realize what was happening and how my behavior was affecting those things. As I started to take my power back and gain clarity, I started to realize how my behavior was impacting these things. From there I was able to shift my own behavior. Guess what? I no longer play now. Those relationships shifted dramatically because I walked away, stopped defending, and stopped arguing. I just quit. I didn’t end the relationship, I just stopped participating until I was offered something that was worth participating in. I made conscious choices about my own behavior without asking anybody to change anything and that was what shifted the relationships.
If they wanted the relationship then they were going to have to figure out how to change it for themselves. If they didn’t do that they were going to find there was no longer a relationship there for them, not because I ended it, but because I simply stop playing the games. Try to play soccer with somebody that just stands on the field and stares at you even when you kick the ball at them. You can’t right? Okay, now do that in your relationships until you get offered the change you’re asking for.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with the person. The conversation is a statement you make for clarity purposes only. It’s not a question. You’re not asking them permission. You’re not fighting with them to change anything. You’re telling them what you’re doing. You’re telling them what your plan is. That’s it. That’s the whole story. You’re telling them what your plan is and where you’re going. You’re not asking them for agreement at all. They don’t have to like it and they can argue with it and you’re simply not going to play.
The way to manage dysfunctional relationships is to take control over yourself. You move yourself and you leave the other person where they are. You can be supportive and compassionate where it’s possible to do so without engaging in the dysfunction. If being supportive and compassionate requires you to engage in the dysfunction then you don’t do it. You don’t jump in the mud with other people.
You’re not doing any of this from a place of pain!
Let’s repeat that again. You’re not doing any of the from a place of pain!
You do this after you deal with your own wounds, you understand yourself and your own behavior, you understand how you affect these relationships, and you can see clearly the pain in the behavior of those around you.
These are the last steps you take, not the first ones. At first, you allow these relationships to be exactly as they are and you continue to play into these cycles and defend the dysfunction. You don’t change anything at all.
It is only once you are in a place of clarity and power that you move forward and actually shift relationships with other people. What you do not want to do is try to do this from pain and ego because it will create more dysfunction than it solves.
You have to put yourself first.
You have to heal yourself first.
Pain creates pain.
If you try to do this while still in pain you will create pain.
When you do this from ego it looks like crappy boundaries that are designed to protect your own wounds and triggers. That’s not what we’re doing.
Boundaries are not designed to protect your wounds and triggers.
The purpose of boundaries is to make clear what you will and won’t engage in. It is designed to respect the pain of other people. Most people just do this in a really dysfunctional kind of a way that doesn’t work.
Putting the boundary up to protect your wounds and triggers is a defense mechanism. I don’t want you to defend yourself, which means I don’t want you to protect your wounds and triggers either. I want to heal those so that you have nothing to defend or protect. That’s why you do this last, not first.
If what they are doing bothers you, then you haven’t healed enough yet. If they are upsetting you, then you don’t have enough control over yourself yet. You’re still reacting. You still have work to do. Instead of being upset, you’re going for compassion. Instead of being bothered, you’re going for understanding. You’re learning to allow people to be where they are and do what they do. To do that, you can’t be bothered by them.
This is a very different way of being in relationships that allows the other person full freedom to be and do who and what they are without any interference from you at all. You are simply a supportive, safe place for them to come back to. You are able to fully see people because you’re not tied up in your own wounds and you don’t project those. Your wounds are no longer a filter over your view of the world.
This bucks everything that we’ve been taught. It throws a wrench in the whole system because it simply honors and allows for every person’s individual sovereignty with no interference from the outside world, regardless of how right or wrong, good or bad we think what they are doing may be.
Are we going for perfection? Of course not. We’re still human. It’s always going to be messy. It’s the attempt that counts. Perfection is never required. Just keep trying.
When you can do this with reasonable success the majority of the time, you will be happier in your own skin and you won’t have to worry so much about other people. It will free you up to live your life on your own terms.
A huge part of our unhappiness is in our relationships with other people. Learning how to manage those successfully through managing our own behavior and focus, is one way to be happier in our lives. It’s not the only way, it’s just one part of a much bigger framework that we call life.
Love to all.