He says the most hurtful things to me!
Why can’t they just accept me?
Why does she put me down all the time?
My friends and family tell me that my ideas are stupid.
What’s wrong with THEM???
When you do The Work, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts. ~ Byron Katie
It’s All About You
The problem with them is the problem within you.
If someone does something that irks you but that same action causes no response in the person next to you, something about the action or the person performing the action is igniting an issue within you that you haven’t dealt with yet.
If someone called my friend and me ugly, the comment would have no effect on me because I’m confident of my internal and external beauty. But my friend, who looks just like me, may be deeply offended if she has issues with self-confidence, self-esteem or body image.
The Universe has a peculiar way of dishing up an ever-increasing mélange of situations that will push just the button that needs to shift.
The more we resist, react and defend, the more the situations hurt.
Without looking inward and asking why these situations affect us so strongly, we play the victim.
“Why does this always happen to me?” “This” will keep happening to you until you change yourself.
Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness
While it’s easy to point fingers and play the victim, it’s a sure-fire detour away from happiness.
One thing I’ve learned for sure over my decades on Earth is that nothing in your life changes until you change.
This became crystal clear when my husband and I ran into issues early in our marriage. The pattern I had repeated in so many previous relationships was to leave when the going got tough.
Just as I was about to repeat my pattern, my intuition said to me, “Not this time. Stay. Learn something. You can leave later but, for now, stay.” It stopped me in my tracks. It was the first time that I realized that it was the same old me doing the same old things in a relationship and getting the same old results.
I felt the wisdom of my intuition and stayed. It wasn’t easy.
Instead of putting the old me back into the relationship, I told my husband that I was putting our relationship on hold while I worked on myself. I had no idea how long this would take or what I would do but it felt like the right move.
I began seeing a therapist and reading personal development books for the first time. I journaled and completed all the homework that my therapist gave me. I worked very hard on me.
And a funny thing happened.
The more I changed, the more my husband changed. I thought this was awfully odd since I was doing my best to keep my distance to avoid conjuring up the same issues we had been dealing with.
Eventually we were able to repair our relationship. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Over the years we’ve both had plenty of internal demons to deal with.
Blaming and defensiveness have been difficult habits to overcome. I grew up with plenty of it and have had to learn how to look inside myself before pointing fingers.
Like all things mindful, it’s a practice. Some days I’m better at it than others but I tend to catch myself more quickly and make different choices about how to communicate and work through things.
Turn the Victim Questions Around
When you ask yourself the types of questions at the beginning of this post, instead of asking them of others, ask them of yourself.
He says the most hurtful things to me! → What hurtful things do I say to myself? How can I support and encourage myself?
Why can’t they just accept me? → How am I not accepting myself? What can I do to love and accept myself unconditionally?
Why does she put me down all the time? → How do I feel that I’m not enough? Who gets to decide what “enough” is? How can accept myself just the way I am?
My friends and family tell me that my ideas are stupid. → How am I unsure of my ideas? How can I test my ideas to prove they’re good?
As long as your problems are with other people, it’s impossible to change them. You’re giving your power and all the responsibility for solving the problem to them in hopes that they’ll do what you want.
Usually they won’t.
The Key to Happiness
The biggest key to happiness is to take responsibility for your life, your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions.
Until you do that, your happiness depends on others and their well-meaning misinterpretation of what might make you happy.
Happiness doesn’t depend on anything outside of you.
Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy regardless of what’s happening around you.
When you work on yourself, you change. When you change, your thought patterns change. When your thought patterns change, you make different choices. When you make different choices, you get different outcomes.
Congratulations, you just learned how to step off the merry-go-round you’ve been stuck on.
When other people in your life are wreaking havoc for you, take responsibility for yourself and decide what you’re going to do about it instead of wishing the other person were different.
Look inside yourself to understand how you’re attracting the difficult person or situation. Look deeply at yourself to understand why that particular person and their actions drive you crazy.
See how you’re contributing to the difficult situation and take responsibility for your actions. Maybe you jumped to conclusions and misjudged someone or misinterpreted their actions.
Try to see yourself through the other person’s eyes as they filter you with their lifetime of personal experiences. Maybe they’re going through their own tough times, self doubts or trying relationships that have nothing to do with you but are affecting their ability to be objective in other areas of their life.
Often, when people feel hurt, they’ll attempt to hurt others in an attempt to feel better about themselves.
Step back and look at the situation with curiosity.
With a new perspective, you may find a completely new set of options for dealing with the relationship. You may decide to change how or what you communicate. Maybe the relationship needs more space or you realize that you’ve never fully committed to it. Or maybe it’s so damaging that you need to leave.
If you’re just beginning with this practice, it can be difficult. It can be painful to shine the light on your own fears and trepidations.
Be kind with yourself. Love yourself as if your life depended on it.
If you’re going through a tough time, I invite you to check out my latest guest post at Goodlife Zen: How to be Happy When Your World Is Falling Apart which goes into more detail with steps you can take to turn a negative situation into something happier.
I just read: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant and I highly recommend it.
I read Love Yourself three times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’ve added the simple practices Kamal describes into my daily practice. Yes, the book is short and seems to repeat the same idea but this simple practice is amazingly powerful.
My favorite practice is to ask myself, “If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?” If the answer is “no,” then I make a choice to feel differently, think differently, act differently in any situation.
We get so caught up in our ways of being that we forget that we can make a different choice in an instant. I’ve found myself automatically asking myself this question any time I’m feeling any kind of negativity or physical or emotional pain. It’s like a soft cloud has enveloped me and shown me how to make everything alright.
The concept reminds me to show myself the same kind of unconditional love and compassion that I show my young children. Yes, I deserve it as much and they and everyone else do.
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Learn how I manage three little kids, a husband, job, writing and taking care of myself - all with mindfulness. Check out my latest guest appearance: a podcast interview at Manifested Happiness: How To Be Mindful When You're Too Busy
The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.