Who Is Responsible for Your Unhappiness?
by Dawn Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com
We are taught you must blame your father, your mother,
your sisters, your brothers, the school teachers -
you can blame anyone but never blame yourself. It is never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change,
you are the one who has got to change. It is as simply as that, isn’t it? Katherine Hepburn
You can only transform what you are willing to claim. You see these emotions we call happiness, or unhappiness are feelings and you are the only person that can choose which feelings to feel. You can never make someone else assume responsibility for anything, especially your happiness. And you cannot hold someone else responsible for your misery.
Now of course, that is the fantasy we all have. If we just meet the right person who is perfect for us, then they will 'make us happy'. We can spend a great deal of time and energy pretending that someone else is responsible for our feelings, but the fact is, it is just not true. But during the infatuation stage of relationships we convince ourselves that is true because we feel so excited and happy, it must be them.
Nope, its the best cocktail of hormones in the world and everyone loves this drug. The problem is that the effects of the infatuation drugs wear off and we are left standing with ourselves to make happy. Do you have a partner that doesn't care if you are happy because it is not their problem, so get over it? Or do you have a partner whose 'over-care taking', and hovering tendencies drive you crazy to the point that you begin to feel smothered?
Interesting isn't it. No matter what our partner's personality tendencies, we can get to a point that we use them to annoy us, rather than make us happy. But it proves my point. It is always a choice. The complicated piece comes when we love and adore our partner's centered color personality tendencies, but despise their extreme color personality tendencies.
Living a life without allowing yourself to experience joy is not really living, it is existing. Unhappiness can become a bad habit. You need to make sure you are living your best possible life. What is your best life? It is critically important that you answer that question in detail. If you don't know who you are at your best, if you don't understand what your core gifts and talents are, learn.
How many things in your life bring you joy? If your answer was, "Not very many." Then you have a starting place to diminishing your unhappiness, learn to add. Add activities, experiences, quiet time, walks in nature, hiking, fishing, swimming anything that you enjoy add more of into your life.
Only you can add more of what brings you joy. That is why you have to take responsibility for your life, and the happiness you fill it with. It is YOUR happiness. Which leads to the conclusion that is it also your unhappiness, as well. Happy or unhappy, either way, you are actually the one doing the choosing. But you might argue that I don't understand. You might want to explain, "My partner is selfish, inconsiderate, distant, grumpy, boring. . ." (and the list goes on and on) But we are not talking about your partner, we are talking about you.
It is not just the people you are with, the challenges you face or the situation you are in that dictate your happiness. It is the way you choose to process and think about those experiences and relationships. Life is about perception; the way you perceive and give meaning to any given a situation. Your partner or situation doesn't make you happy or unhappy, it is the meaning that you give to what is happening.
"What can I do?" you might ask. "My partner is selfish. My partner is passive-aggressive. My partner is mean and sarcastic." Okay, so what can YOU really do about them? Can you force them to be more thoughtful and considerate, more appreciative and less sarcastic? If you could've you already would have so the answer is. No, you can't. The only one whose behaviors and feelings that you can truly change are your own.
Now I understand that relationship problems can be exhausting and frustrating. I get that. But your happiness depends on you understanding your issues and how to best deal with and heal them. Do you take things personally? Do you interpret most of what your partner does or says as negative? Do you feel that your stressed out thoughts are affecting your health? Then that is all the more reason to change the way you choose to view your world.
You need to focus on reshaping your thought process. And don’t be alarmed if this doesn’t happen overnight. You have to catch yourself in the middle of negative thoughts and beliefs that make you miserable and alter them. To become more optimistic and open minded, you need to focus on what thoughts you are allowing in your head. If they are unhappy thoughts, stop and remove them and exchange them for thoughts of gratitude. Think of something, anything that you feel grateful for, the sun on your face, the smell of rain, your ability to see, your children, your kindest friends, anything, and once you allow yourself to move into gratitude, you will discover that your feelings of unhappiness have given way to joy. Find more things that make you belly laugh. Laughter is good for the soul.
Your life is YOUR fault, but it is also your privilege to create whatever happiness or unhappiness you desire. You simply have to go to the source - and the source is always YOU. Attempting to change someone else will never work, but choosing how you are going to react to any given situation, and how you are going to choose to feel about it is always YOUR responsibility and under your control.
I know you don't want to believe that your happiness, or unhappiness, is ultimately up to you. You want to allow entitled thoughts to tell you that you are the victim. But the truth is, you are the victor because when you change how you think and how your perceive, you take back control of your life.
All of this advice also goes both ways. Your partner, friend or family member is just as responsible for their own happiness as you are for yours. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like it is your fault they are unhappy. There are ways in which you can help, support and encourage your loved ones of course. You can model self care and appreciation for them. You can listen, share, care and do all you can to love them. You can look inward and make sure that you are not taking your partner for granted.
But happiness requires that each individual choose it over and over many times a day. Whenever we find ourselves feeling unhappy and miserable, it is up to each of us to choose to exchange our stressed-out, unhappy thoughts to thoughts of gratitude that can bring us joy.
Relationship and personality expert Dawn L. Billings is the author of over 15 books and hundreds of articles.
Dawn is the founder of RealtionshipHelp.com a website dedicated to providing resources to help strengthen and heal relationships.
Dawn is the creator of the comprehensive ONLINE relationship programs called Relationship Help At Home, and is the Executive Director of the Relationship Help Resort in Arizona where she hosts private couple's retreats and marriage intensives to help people restore the love and connection in their marriages.
Dawn is also the author and architect of the Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools and the inventor of the patented parenting tool for toddlers called CAPABLES.