“Too often in life, something happens and we blame other people for us not being happy or satisfied or fulfilled. So the point is, we all have choices, and we make the choice to accept people or situations or to not accept people or situations.”- Unknown
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone just did what we wanted them to in the way we wanted them to do it, all of the time? Friends, colleagues, family, lovers? Well, yes, it would be great for a little while.
But as human beings we are not naturally autonomous. We like to be able to be ourselves, inside of our own heads, catering for our own personal needs and desires.
So many of us waste our time and energy wishing we could change someone else. What we really want is for them to be a mirror image of ourselves. We totally “get” where we are coming from, so we don’t understand why anyone would want to behave or think in a different way. It doesn’t make sense or fit with our own wants and desires.
When people don’t comply to what we think is the right way to live or think, we have the potential to end up unhappy and become disgruntled. We even go as far as to making it all about us!
If someone doesn’t do it in the way we think they should, we become defensive, or worse, blame them for not understanding our needs! We then try to force our own agendas and ideals onto their lives and that just makes them confused and miserable and unable to understand what the issue really is.
When we try to force someone into changing or looking at things from our own perspective, it just makes them feel controlled or manipulated. People often do the opposite then of what we want them to do and we end up even more frustrated and angry!
So how do we allow them to be who they are without it compromising who we are? Well, the first step is respecting that, no matter how hard you kick, scream or shout, if someone doesn’t think the same way as you, there’s nothing you can do to alter that. We are all individuals.
Yes, you may have asked that person a billion times to pick up their socks from the bathroom floor, but chances are, they aren’t leaving them there to annoy you. They just forget and aren’t as conscientious as you. That is of course, a trivial example for me to quote, but when you’re faced with someone who you feel does not understand you, or listen to you, or give you what you need in the time or the way you desire; the socks on the floor can be the final thing that makes you flip out and ultimately break a relationship apart!
Ego plays a huge part in failing relationships. We are quite often offended or upset by something that most likely was not intended to hurt or upset us. Talking plays a major role in fixing relationships.
We forget that the other person in the relationship is not a mind reader and cannot be responsible for our happiness. If we don’t tell them how we feel, how on earth do they know what the matter is? All they see is someone upset or hostile. The finny thing is, we then expect them to know what the matter is!
Any time we let someone else’s actions or words or even lack of actions hurt or offend us, it is us who is allowing that process to happen.
So silly when you come to think of it isn’t it?
We are giving that person the power to upset us! We put all of our happiness onto them, and if they don’t do as we think fit, we them blame them for our unhappiness.
Any time that you put all of your happiness into someone else’s hands, you are asking to be disappointed. There will always be a time or an event which will come along and upset or disappoint you.
Better then, to take control of our own lives. Making sure that we make ourselves happy and then whatever anyone else does around us we can simply choose not to allow it to affect our happiness in any way.
It sounds far more complicated than it is. Essentially, what it all boils down to is a willingness to accept that, for the main part, people are in their own world, living inside their own heads, without much thought for us at all. Therefore, we can allow them to live in exactly the way they see fit, without taking anything personally or trying to make their behaviour all about us.
Of course, there will be times in life where people just don’t like us, or do try to push all the wrong buttons. But even then, instead of allowing them to upset us, we can either accept that it is their issue, not ours and allow them to behave in a way that is alien to our own way of thinking. Or, we can choose to walk away, knowing that they just aren’t the kind of person who brings positives into our lives. But even when we walk away, we are using our own power of choice in order to do so. They haven’t forced us into that situation, we have chosen for that to be so.
It is no one else’s responsibility to make us happy and satisfied all of the time. It is our own responsibility. We have complete control over our own behavior and because we do, we can use it in so many positive ways.
In accepting other people, we do not compromise our own beliefs or allow ourselves to be mistreated or walked all over, we just stop expecting a different outcome. Instead of saying “you never…” or “I would have done…” we begin to take charge of what did happen or what we want, and ultimately, how we can achieve that happiness on our own. We can’t change things that have happened in the past, but we can chose how we react to things in the future.
Instead of feeling helpless and in someone else’s hands, we start taking charge of ourselves and stop blaming other people for everything.
It is incredibly liberating to be the master of your own happiness.
Author Emma Evans
This picture reminded me of a client I saw recently. I've asked if I can use his example of why if you persevere against the odds you can and will succeed. He agreed. His story has been slightly altered to ensure confidentiality.
My client had happily been working for the same delivery company for the past 6 years, but a year ago, he sustained an injury on the job. He had to take a little time off and then go back to reduced hours for a while on his return. But the whole incident had left him feeling pretty rubbish & depressed.
His company kept giving him jobs which were out of his ability because of the injury. He was placed on multiple disciplinary hearings and forced back off of work with acute stress as a result.
He was put on strong medication and told by his GP that he would no be able to return to work in his current state, but he had to go back to work as he was on a final warning with yet another disciplinary! He ended up with severe depression coupled by awful headaches that were totally debilitating.
When he called me, he had already been to see someone for CBT and also a group counselling provided by the NHS. He was back at work and there was no let up to the stress he was under. We soon established by chatting that he had actually gained his HGV license but never been in a fit enough state to use it!
We chatted about his options, we did a lot of self esteem work & eventually he decided he could try to apply for HGV jobs.
In doing this, taking the power back into his own hands, he would be removing cause of his headaches and stress symptoms, because he would no longer be a subject of institutionalised bullying, he would no longer be facing losing his job due to his illness that had been created by stress, and he would be able to earn more money!
His company had been trying to do everything in their power to make his life as miserable as possible and were pretty much making it impossible for him to stay. So why stay? It wasn't defeatist to go or give up his job, in fact, far from it! It was just the thing he needed to regain his self esteem, self confidence and power!
This is not the first time I have encountered this kind of pincer movement when companies are faced with mental health issues! Depression is something that companies often just don't cater for appropriately. I think, due to a lack of education, some employers panic when they hear the word depression because they don't know how to deal with it at all. So what do they tend to do? Instead of helping the person to get through what is usually a phase, instead they pile on even more pressure in hopes of forcing the employee to either work regardless or leave!
Luckily for my client he realised just at the right moment in his life that he was worth so much more than that kind of treatment! So he applied for different jobs within the HGV industry and he found that he WAS wanted! He got offered 3 jobs in very quick succession and the best part was he could earn a third more than he had been, with the potential to earn a lot more still!
When he identified what the true problem was, he could manovre into a much better position and get himself into a far better situation! For months if not years he had felt powerless, but not any more!!
I was so pleased to receive an email from him recently telling me that he had started the new job and he was loving it!
This whole tale just proves how powerful our own minds can be! If you are in a situation where someone else or something else is sapping all of your energy, self eateem and confidence, CHANGE IT! You CAN succeed if you walk away, even if the prospect of doing so is scary at first. If you can see it, you can achieve it.
I am so proud of my client. Against the odds he has removed the source of his anxiety and depression and I am certain that he has a much brighter future on the road ahead!
Author Emma Evans
Emma Evans runs Kent Therapy Clinic and also helps coach other therapists in her spare time when she's not seeing clients at her busy practice. This blog is full of useful articles and interesting facts to do with therapy in general. Please feel free to add your comments to the blog.