I love meeting people for coffee. The conversations that accompany the beverages are a great source of column topics for me.
This week I found myself talking with a friend about past relationships. At one point, he used the expression, “we stopped making each other happy.”
I’m sure he heard my sharp intake of breath. I was raised to believe that when I got married, that’s what my husband would do; he’d make me happy. You might have guessed from my response that he didn’t, nor should I have expected him to. No one can make you happy, except you. This is something I believe passionately.
Thinking your wellbeing lies in someone else’s hands leaves you in a very vulnerable position. I learned that the hard way. It also means it’s easy to slip out of a place of empowerment and into victim energy. This is when you don’t think you have any control over what’s happening to you, or how you feel.
I realize that for many people, saying you want to make your partner happy is just an easy way of saying their happiness is important to you. I agree with that sentiment completely. But your brain doesn’t always distinguish between what you say and what you mean.
If you use self-deprecating humour—something I loved doing for much of my life—you’re giving your mind unhelpful messages. Laughing about how useless you are doesn’t alter the meaning behind the words. If you tell yourself something often enough, you’ll begin to believe it.
That isn’t to say making yourself the butt of a joke is bad. Just be conscious of why you’re doing it, the energy behind it and whether this has become your default behaviour. Your words reflect your beliefs, regardless of whether you say them with a smile or a frown.
With that thought in mind, let’s return to the original reason for me writing on this topic.
How we can express the sentiment, “I want to make my partner happy,” without taking responsibility for their emotions and state of mind? It turns out it’s as simple as swapping out one word and doing a little rearranging.
Rather than “making your partner happy,” concentrate on “your partner being happy.” It’s not up to you to make that happen, but you can and should support them on their quest. The same goes for all the other people in your life. Do what you can to assist them to be happy.
It’s equally important for you to understand what makes you feel good and be willing to communicate that to the important people in your life. This will help them assist you.
If a time comes when you no longer feel motivated to help your significant other with their happiness mission, it’s time to make some changes in the relationship or possibly to move on.
I want to be with someone who encourages me to be happy, and who actively supports me in that goal. And, of course, I’ll be doing the same for him.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.