This is the hard truth: nobody is responsible for making us happy.
We are not owed anything from anybody, especially the people we love.
Happiness is an inside job, and the sooner we discover this the sooner we can get on with doing the important work of finding goodness for ourselves instead of wasting our time listing off the reasons everyone else is responsible for our misery.
Here is why I am thinking about this.
Recently, I have found myself uncomfortable with the idea of how happy I have been. Pretty weird, right? Isn’t being happy the thing that is supposed to make us more comfortable? Something to literally rejoice in and enjoy?
Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
A lot of the time we have trouble enjoying being happy because of the knowledge that this happiness, at some point, will fade and become something else, possibly unhappiness.
In my case, what was causing my uncertainty about feeling good was that I was feeling especially good while my loving life partner was out of town.
I was feeling amazing in fact, spending most of my time alone, working on my own projects, watching my own TV shows, eating whatever I wanted to—it was wonderful. For almost 20 years my loving life partner and I have lived together, since I was a late teenager, and in these two decades we have barely been apart.
This is why the question of whether or not this was a problem—that I was finding myself incredibly happy without him around—was rolling around in my head. I wondered if this was the beginning of the end.
This is the type of questioning that is often at the root of our discomfort.
It is funny how we can begin to feel unhappy about feeling good. I feared that when my spouse returned home, all my happy feelings were going to disappear. This is how ridiculous the mind can be.
One of the most dysfunctional ways we can engage in relationship is to believe that someone else is responsible for our happiness.
This way of interacting is asking for trouble.
When we expect other people to make us happy, we are putting too much responsibility on the relationship, and on the other person, and this just sets us up nicely for disappointment and failure.
Because no one can make us happy.
No one else can make us feel anything.
We feel all on our own.
Only we can make the choices about what to think, how to react and how to interpret people’s intentions behind their actions.
This is part of the lonely path of being human—the fact that we are responsible for our own feelings and experiences. But this doesn’t have to be a negative thing.
I have always loved the image of two whole people coming together to enjoy each other, support each other and thrive off each other. This way of seeing a relationship is different from the idea that we can rely on each other to feel fulfilled in the world.
The more I become fulfilled on my own, the more I can enjoy my partner because there is no need for him to engage in behaviors that I deem as satisfying. I can make my own life satisfying all on my own and then revel in his company.
Will he do the same? The truth is, it is none of my business. Feeling like other people’s decisions and actions have the ability to make or break our own lives is a path of suffering. Only we can wake up in the morning and choose our perspective for the day. Nobody else can tell us what to stick in our heart and minds.
It can be hard to let go of the hope that somebody else is going to make us happy.
We want this so badly. We want it because we hurt, and the job of making the hurt go away is a big one—we are not sure we can do it alone.
Well, we don’t need to do it all alone. There are hugs and kisses and words of encouragement for all of us along the way. But no one is going to show up and ensure that happiness is our primary emotion, mostly because everyone is going through the same process we are. The process of finding their own authentic voice and way of being in the world.
Our intimate partners are facing their own demons, and finding their own way in the world, and if we are with the right person, their journey will compliment ours, and we will have nice meals together, and make love, and go on trips and stimulate each others minds and bodies and hopefully laugh a lot, but we will never make each other happy.
That job is all our own.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Gabriele Forcina/Unsplash