Have you ever dreaded approaching your partner to talk about even something as simple as what you wish to do over the weekend? And then played the conversation in your head over and over again before speaking to him (or her)? Only because you don’t know how he or she will react. Or more importantly, you fear they’ll react most unfavorably, get mad at you or even throw tantrums.
If you have then you must be familiar with that churning feeling in your stomach. When you feel that obnoxious hollowness in your tummy, that sinking feeling as if you are on the roller-coaster that’s going down at a breakneck speed. You hear your heartbeat loud and clear, you suddenly feel low and down. Then you slip into excessive worrying. How will he or she take it this time, how will you cope with their reaction? So on and so forth. You tremble at the thought of broaching the topic.
And then you wait and wait. You wait for that “perfect moment” to talk to them. You hope that they’ll listen to you this time, so you may really speak your heart out without worrying about their reaction. You keep playing the tape in your head because you want to be careful with your words, you love him or her and you don’t want to hurt them, but you also want to voice your feelings. You prepare yourself mentally for their outburst but nothing prepares you, really. They don’t react any differently. You walk away feeling the same as always — unheard, guilty, low and hurt.
If you know what I mean then let me tell you that you need help. But, it’s your partner who’s emotionally troubled or obsessed, you say. Of course. Yet still, you need help. You have taken upon yourself the unrealistic job of managing the feelings of the other person. Rather than making them understand that they are responsible for their conduct and emotions, you have burdened yourself by thinking that your actions can fix your partner’s feelings. Big mistake.
In a healthy relationship, two people are there for each other but they take care of themselves too. They understand that they must take responsibility for their own lives. When this responsibility shifts on the shoulder of just one partner, such a relationship is doomed. It’s neither sustainable nor practical. It’s not even right, if you ask me.
Here’s a simple but profound story that has been doing the rounds on the internet. I first read it in Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More.
A woman moved to a cave in the mountains to study with a guru. In her quest of knowledge she wanted to learn everything there was to learn, she said. The guru gave her stacks of books and left her alone so she could study.
“Have you learned everything there is to know yet?” he would ask her every morning.
“No,” she would say every time, “I haven’t.”
The guru would then strike her over the head with a cane. This went on for months. Same question, same answer, same treatment. One morning, however, when he raised his cane to hit her, the woman grabbed the cane from the guru, stopping the assault in midair.
Relieved to end the daily batterings, but fearing reprisal, the woman looked up at the guru. To her surprise, the guru smiled.
“Congratulations,” he said, “You have graduated. You now know everything there is to know.”
“How come?” the woman asked.
“You have learned that you will never learn everything there is to know,” he replied. “And you have learned how to stop the pain.”
Your pain stops the moment you realize that you can’t possibly cover all the scenarios in a relationship, that you can’t correct the feelings and thoughts of the other person, that they too must take some (if not complete) responsibility for their own lives. You learn to watch out for yourself. It’s not that you love the other person any less now, in fact, your love increases because the toxicity is replaced by responsibility.
In a toxic relationship, there’s a serious lack of understanding about what the other person needs. Obsessed partners are expert controllers, not necessarily manipulators but controllers. They can extract a certain behavior from you by exhibiting their excessive reliance on you. They are not doing so consciously or cunningly. They are only acting compulsively, often based on what has worked for them till date. Soon, however, it gets suffocating for both people because it’s tiring and taxing. There’s little room left to play as any space is overtaken by worrying and fear. So, what is the solution, you ask?
An excited woman called her husband from work.
“Guess what!” she screamed with joy, “I just won the jackpot! I’m richer by $20 million!”
“You’re kidding me!” the husband yelled, equally ecstatic.
“Pack your clothes,” she said, “Oh! I could do with a break!”
“Winter or summer clothes?”
“All of them. I want you out of the house by six.”
Detachment is your answer. I’m not saying that you do it like the woman in the joke. And, I don’t mean it in some cryptic theological or philosophical sense. Here’s how I see detachment in the context of relationships. Physical distance is not detachment (although it can help, sometimes). Detachment is giving the other person time and space so they may learn to be more responsible. It is a reminder that you can’t take care of the other person without taking care of yourself first. It is the understanding that you too deserve to do things that make you happy. You’ve as much right to life as anyone else.
Detachment is an acknowledgement of the fact that the people you love are responsible for their feelings. By letting them take control of their (and not your) life, you actually help them. It may hurt initially but eventually it infuses a new vitality in your relationship. It is developing a sort of neutrality so you don’t start worrying about little things and feel the urge to fix everything right away. You can’t fix what you didn’t create. Not all the time anyway.
Detachment is the realization that most troubled partners don’t act badly as a matter of choice. Their coping mechanisms propel them to behave a certain way. But your sense of detachment will give you the peace to handle everything far more effectively (without going crazy). Detachment is taking it easy (not for granted) in the face of friction and conflict. It is to examine your reaction rather than acting on the first thought or the first feeling you experience when things go haywire. It helps you to keep your sanity until your partner understands that neither of you can always be on your toes.
That said, detachment is only one part of the solution. There’s more. Next week, I’ll try and scribble something on the perils of obsessive love and care. Compulsive care doesn’t help anyone. If you wish to have a healthy relationship, sooner or later you have to stand up for yourself. True love naturally has a degree of detachment otherwise it becomes too clingy and uncomfortable. Unhealthy relationships are prisoners of obsession and attachment. Healthy relationships on the other hand are fueled by friendship and freedom. Obsessive care undermines love.
Learn to speak up for yourself. Don’t be scared. Breathe. Detach. Make no attempt to fix everything this instant. No one is going to die if you start caring about yourself. On the contrary, your life and others’ too will only become more beautiful as you stand your ground and find your feet because, ultimately, this new-found strength will make you even more loving, caring, confident and happy.
This post is a bit too long for my taste, but then again, I suppose, a write-up on relationships can be a draggy affair.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Many times, we lose track of what we want because we are too busy focusing on the people around us and how to keep them happy. We are constantly worried about their peace and how our presence can make their lives more worthwhile. But what about our own lives? Don’t we deserve joy and peace too?
Do what makes you happy. You deserve it. The following questions will give you a deeper insight into living your best life:
How do I live by the statement, “Do what makes you happy”?
No matter what you do in the world, feel free to enjoy life, do what makes you happy, be yourself, but do not uncouple yourself from the source, the Divine, the primordial energy, the quintessential seed you have sprouted from. Any freedom you gain by disengaging from the source is short-lived and temporary.
When you are connected to the source when you are comfortable with yourself, any joy you get from any activity grows multifold, it gets magnified, you experience happiness and bliss like never before. You would enjoy life like never before.
When you enjoy being with yourself, the whole world will find joy and peace in your company. The more at ease you are with yourself, the greater your inner peace remains unaffected by what goes around you and you will enjoy life. Read more here.
What does “Do what makes you happy” really mean?
1. The truth is, happiness is our natural state but, more often than not, most people feel they have to have certain things in their life to be happy, to be at peace. The golden mantra of finding inner peace starts with acceptance. It begins by accepting the responsibility of the choices we’ve made. They are not necessarily about right-wrong or good-bad, but, each choice we make has an outcome.
The struggle is to be at ease with what you have and who you are — both of which can be hard to accept sometimes. How you see life makes all the difference between life feeling like a breeze or a brawl. It’s neither, if you ask me. Life is simply a colony of countless moments, a painting of myriad strokes. Focus on each moment, each stroke, work on the part and the whole becomes beautiful on its own. Read more here.
I constantly worry about making the wrong decisions and messing up my life. Friends and family say, “Do what makes you happy.” Is it really that simple?
The most amusing and disturbing thing is that mostly we worry about things that are completely beyond our control. Why do we worry about things that we well know we can’t do anything about?
The answer is disarmingly simple. Worrying is a habit. And, two things make it persistent. First, fear, and, second, uncontrolled thoughts.
It’s only when we begin to see the beauty in what we must endure in life that our life truly starts to become beautiful. We are not on this planet to waste our life by constantly worrying about this and that. Worrying takes the life out of our life. Somewhere, one must gather the courage to set oneself free, to be where one wants to be, to do what you’ve always longed to.
Work will never end. There’ll always be a list of outstanding action items. But, in all this, we must not forget to live. Adequately. Gracefully. Do what makes you happy. Read more here.
My mantra in life is “Do what makes you happy.” How do I set about achieving this though?
Lasting fulfillment comes from the quality of our vision, understanding, and execution, it comes from our temperament and our values. It’s incredibly hard to remain motivated without loving what you do. Without that love and motivation, self-discipline becomes even harder. And one way of loving something is to look at the brighter side of life, it is to find those little gems of joy that lie scattered on the path under the rustling leaves of self-doubt and desires.
In other words, it is to enjoy the journey and earning that sense of triumph. When you receive something after working towards it, your joy multiplies automatically. This is the foundation for the statement, “Do what makes you happy.”
Here’s the secret to happiness: protect trust (self-trust and others’) at all costs; love and purpose will walk into your life on their own. Together they make up happiness. It’s that simple, really. Read more here.
I often hear, “Do what makes you happy.” I want to do so but I’m scared. What if I give it my all and it doesn’t work out?
If you are willing to be patient, persistent and positive, you can accomplish pretty much anything. Your fears, thoughts, desires, expectations, dreams, hopes — they stem from a thought. Whatever you cling to ultimately manifests. Never think you are undeserving of the good in your life, never think you can’t make it, because, if you start to think that, well then, you leave Nature with no choice but to believe you.
Allow your dreams to materialize; give your hopes a chance over your fears, let your conviction win over your doubts. Do what makes you happy. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to live, you deserve to be here on this magical path. You deserve to celebrate life. Read more here.
If we follow the philosophy, “Do what makes you happy,” won't I be living a selfish life?
Our happiness and fulfillment is not entirely dependent on what or whom we have in our lives, but how I deal with them. There’s no one definitive way that can be called “the right way”. The potpourri of life has many things thrown into it. Expectations, desires, disappointments, joys, sorrows, highs, lows, everything. It’s a mix. You’ve got to make the best choice you can, given the conditions, and move on.
As long as my relationship with my “self” is honest and meaningful, the rest outside ceases to matter as much. Expectations from the world reduce automatically and bliss rises to the fore of one’s consciousness. Like rain settles the dust particles, awareness of the self diminishes our unrealistic expectations from this world.
Past the stories we tell and the facade we put up is the simple truth: we all live for ourselves alone. More or less. “Do what makes you happy” is the running theme in our lives. Read more here.