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Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

Recently, in my random web browsing, I came across this article by Steven Stosny called Marriage and the Power to be Happy.  Although ostensibly about marriage, I think there are some really important ideas in this article not just about relationships in general but also about the way we all tend to approach life. 

For one thing, I LOVE this sentiment, expressed in the first paragraph:

I continue to be amazed when people protest about the “unfairness” of having to work to make their lives and relationships better.

As Dr Stosny says, being happy does indeed take work – this is not “unfair”, it’s a fact of life.  In fact, our level of happiness or unhappiness is generally directly related to a) how happy we decide to be and b) how much work we put in to creating and experiencing happiness in our life.  It is nothing to do with “luck” or “fairness”, we are not “entitled” to happiness and damn that bastard old world if it doesn’t provide it to us on a silver platter!  It is a choice and it takes work and conscious decision. 

The second idea within this article that I LOVE and that I think so many people fail to recognise or fully comprehend is this:

The most potent predictor of being happily married is being happy before you marry. Marriage does not make you happy, although the prospect of sharing life with a loved one can provide motivation to make yourself happy.

Of course, this doesn’t just have to be about the institution of marriage – it is about our relationships with people in general.  As Dr Stosny says, we run around believing we have ‘holes’ within us and desperately seeking someone else to fill them, when in fact all we need to do is realise that they aren’t even there to begin with.  We believe there are defects within us, holes that need filling, whereas actually we are all whole and complete as we are.  We don’t need fixing or something external to fill us.  Everything we need we already have within us. 

We think we want someone else to love and validate us, whereas actually, if we can’t accept love and validation from ourselves, what makes us think we are going to be able to accept it from anyone else?  And then we just end up getting frustrated with the other person because we *still* don’t feel loved and validated, as if that is the other person’s fault!!  When, actually, it is just that we cannot accept from someone else what we have no ability already to believe about ourselves.

So often, in modern society, this leads to us feeling dissatisfied with our partner for not inducing within us all the feelings of adequacy we are unable to give ourselves.  And so we assume our partner is not good enough, not loving enough, not ‘right’ for us, and we discard that person and look for someone else – the ‘one’, the Mr or Mrs Right who is going to finally make us feel worthy, fulfilled and lovable.  And so we go through this string of relationships, wondering why we can’t just find a decent partner who will incite all these cosy feelings within us.

It is a simple, often repeated idea but one that far too few people are able to really take in the truth of: If you can’t love yourself, you will never be able to accept love from someone else.  I have brown hair.  I believe strongly that I have brown hair.  If I started going out with a guy who told me every day that I have blonde hair, I wouldn’t start to feel happy and excited about my gorgeous blonde hair.  I would think he was talking a load of bollocks and go right on believing I have brown hair. 

It’s the same with love and feelings of worthiness etc.  If I have a deep, underlying belief that I am unlovable and unworthy of love, even if one hundred people appeared on my doorstep telling me they loved me and I was an amazing, lovable person, I would go right on believing that I was unlovable until I was able to shift my own inner belief about my lovability.  Hell, you just need to look at celebrities for evidence of that.  Being adored by millions doesn’t seem to make many of them any better able to treat themselves with love and respect.

So the moral is: don’t expect anyone else – family, friends, lovers – to fill the holes you perceive in yourself, or to make you feel things about yourself that you can’t feel in their absence.  You only, and you alone, can come to the understanding that there are no holes there to begin with.  Until you understand that, you will forever be searching for the way – or the person – to fill them.

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