No one can make you feel anything, unless you let them. This is a tough one to swallow, I know. But it goes hand in hand with another important reality, which is that you cannot save anyone, or make anyone happy. (In other words, you can’t make anyone feel anything, either).
I say this is tough to swallow, because many people think in terms of cause and effect when it comes to interpersonal relationships. This other person said, or did, x, y, or z, and it made me feel hurt or angry or disappointed or excited or happy. Your feelings are yours. Where you invest your time and energy is a choice. What you allow yourself to open to is a decision. If someone says something that hurts your feelings, the first thing to do is examine whether you believe the thing that was said is true. If it’s not true, there’s no real reason to get worked up. Earlier this afternoon my almost 6-year old son called my 3-year old daughter, “Poopy-head”. She got very upset and came running to me and I looked at her very seriously and asked, “ARE you a Poopy-head??”, and she paused and said no, with a little bit of a smile, and a twinkle in her eye. And I said, “That’s right, you’re not. So he’s saying something that isn’t true. So why are you upset?” And she started laughing. Sometimes people are projecting something of theirs onto you. (Not that my son is a Poopy-head, he’s just 6 ;)). And, we are all going to be misunderstood from time to time. If it is true, then you have to figure out what is being reflected back to you. What within you needs some healing?
If a person isn’t happy, you cannot fix that for them. Sylvia Boorstein is a beautiful meditation teacher, and she wrote a great book called, “Happiness is an Inside Job”. It totally is. Sometimes we fall in love and those happy hormones take over for awhile, but I promise you, if you or the other person was not happy to begin with, the high of the newness will wear off, and the pain underneath will rise back up to the surface. This is why people who bought that line, “You complete me” are always disappointed at the 3 or 6-month mark in a relationship. How come my completion doesn’t feel as awesome anymore? Maybe this isn’t the right person, after all. The “right person” to complete you, is you. Two complete people coming together can create something beautiful. But that happens less than half the time. Are less than half the people happy? Shouldn’t we do something about that? Like maybe teach our children how to follow their hearts?
The not-being-able-to-save-anyone part is not easy, either. When we care deeply for someone, it’s painful to watch them struggle, or self-destruct, or continue patterns of behavior that will only bring them more despair, or loneliness, or isolation. But everyone has to “do” their own journey. You just can’t manage another person’s path. You can do everything in your power to help, you can communicate your feelings, you can make suggestions, or even lead a person to the doorstep where genuine help is available, but ultimately, they are gonna have to walk through that door on their own two feet, because they want to, because the old way isn’t working anymore, or it will not work. The healing will not hold. And sometimes in order to love yourself well, you need to step away. With your keys. And drive with the windows down, weeping if you need to. Sending your love out into the wind, hoping it will land.
I’m sending you some right now. Ally