In a healthy relationship, two people spend their time trying to make the other person happy by anticipating and meeting their needs, right?
In a healthy relationship, two people are responsible for THEIR OWN happiness and show up willing to love and be loved by the other person.
It’s that simple…
…and it’s not easy.
Why is that?
Because we have human brains that have all kinds of stories and beliefs about how things “should be” and how other people “should behave”.
So we try to get the other person to do the things we think they “should” … like be happy!
The funny thing about grown-ups is they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do… right?
For instance, I love how Joe looks in a nice Hawaiian shirt… like a cool Tommy Bahama.
Will he wear them?
I bought him a few for Hawaii and he wore them until we came home and promptly got rid of them.
He doesn’t like them and he doesn’t like how he looks in them.
He kept one… the one with little sharks all over it, and I think he kept it ONLY because he knows I like it.
And I could choose to be mad or choose to love him regardless of what he wears.
I know you’re thinking… but what if he wears something with a hole in it?
- Well, it could be embarrassing to me!
- Because it looks sloppy.
Why is that a problem?
- Because people will think I don’t buy him nice clothes.
Aaand why is THAT a problem?
- Because it makes me look bad.
And that’s a problem because?
- If people see me wearing nice clothes and he’s wearing crappy clothes, then they think I’m selfish and not taking good care of him. They’ll feel sorry for him and hate me and if they hate me, they won’t hang out with me and I’ll be lonely and sad (yes, my brain said all this).
So here I am, wanting my husband to wear particular clothes and look a certain way so that I won’t feel lonely and sad.
Let me say that again… I wanted my husband to behave a certain way so that I feel better.
Because I believed his actions would make me happy.
This is a common misconception and what turns many of us into people-pleasers.
But I don’t create his feelings and he doesn’t create mine.
My thoughts about my husband, my self, my life, and everything in it determines how I feel.
Not whether my husband is angry or happy or wearing Hawaiian shirts or 3-piece suits or ripped jeans…
In other words, I have the power and responsibility for MY feelings.
MY feelings… over here… in MY body and brain.
And he has responsibility for his.
Yet all of us people-pleasers go around trying to make other people happy.
The dirty secret about that (nobody likes to admit this) is we do it so WE feel better.
If my husband’s happy, I make it mean good things about him and me and us as a couple and that story I tell myself makes me happy.
If he’s angry, I could make it mean I screwed up, he’s a jerk, we’re doomed and THAT story will make me feel like shit.
It’s not my husband’s emotions or actions that determine how I feel… it’s my thoughts about his emotions and actions.
I’m in charge of my thoughts… not my hubby.
I’m in charge of my emotions… not anyone in my family.
I’m in charge of how I let people treat me and I set boundaries around myself and I don’t ignore when they’re upset or need help, but I don’t let it determine my worth or how I should feel about myself.
This is the beginning of emotional maturity and freedom.