Three keys to a happy life
A friend asked me, based on my experience as a psychologist watching people develop personally and interpersonally, what I think are the three most positive transformative lessons to help people enjoy life. Whoops, get it close to three! Here are some concepts that I can say for sure will change people for the better if they really understand them on an emotional level (not just doing the moves, though “fake it until you get it” helps in the meantime). The first 2 are for you and relate to yourself and your life, and the last is for relationships, which we all know play a huge role in how we feel and how much we enjoy each day.
1. What we resist persists. We cannot control our feelings. We can only choose to avoid them. Some people call this “rising above” them, but usually with a little push the sensation is just below the surface and drains their energy. The only way I’ve seen to effectively ease painful emotions is to embrace and work through them. The more you can make room to feel something completely, in fact, the more the feeling can be transformed and released. This idea is counterintuitive for many of my clients, especially when society tells us to be strong and many parents tell their children to “get over” their feelings or to grow up. Suppressing or saying “no” to an experience that comes to you is, in my opinion, asking for more of that feeling over a longer period of time and sometimes even leads to physical illness.
Many of us hold our sail up until we get into rough waters and then decide we don’t like it, so we drop our sails. That is the worst time to decide that you want to resist what life has brought you because a ship without sails is going nowhere and therefore is stuck in rough waters! Raise the sail again and you can go a little further that way, but you will turn around and come back to peace faster. So say “yes” to your feelings and let them be as great as they really are. That doesn’t mean representing them (if you feel like yelling at a friend, you don’t act on it, but you do accept and care about the experience of WANTING to scream instead of resisting or ignoring it).
2. Love yourself. This is painfully obvious, but very difficult for most people. One of my happiest parenting days was a few months ago when my 2-year-old daughter said, “Mommy … I love you. I love you and I love myself.” I had such a positive reaction when she said that she loved herself that she has said it at least 10 times since then, with a big smile on her face. She knows I like to hear that. Why? Loving yourself is not only the key to your own happiness, but also to your beautiful treatment of others and also tolerance towards them. Loving yourself will not make you arrogant; Instead, you eliminate the need to be better than others because you have the confidence that you are intrinsically valuable and always loved.
Many wonder how to learn to love themselves and it is certainly not easy. A good therapist, friend, or lover who constantly reflects your beauty is a good place to start. If you have such a person, focus on receiving from them as deeply as you can, really take in how they see you and let it sink into your core, into your cells, into your whole heart. You will find places that resist, reject love, and feel very uncomfortable or restless. Go ahead and let those places give up. Do not stop. Injuries and the parts of you that have negative beliefs about yourself will have to die to absorb love and restructure it around them, so learning through this deep reception requires actively tolerating discomfort and trying to open up more than you are. you think possible.
It is also possible to learn yourself without the help of another person. If you’ve ever loved someone or something, get in touch with that loving feeling and then direct it to yourself. It can help to see yourself as a little child to make your inherent innocence and sweetness even more apparent. Also in the child version of yourself, you can see the deep need for love and dependence on others without feeling embarrassed about it. We are, of course, naturally dependent creatures. People are often ashamed to cover it up, but people need people. Once you love yourself, you will find the right people to depend on, people you don’t feel guilty about needing and you can trust to be there. Ideally, we have “fuzzy dependency,” in which we distribute our dependency needs among many loved ones so that no one person feels the total responsibility to meet our needs. Practice visualizing yourself at whatever age inspires you the most compassion and try to bring that love directly to that person’s heart, which is your own heart.
These first two concepts combine to create healing. When you don’t resist your experiences or feelings, but embrace them, loving yourself is easier. Put your feelings in contact with love and you will heal. Even anger or sadism is a feeling that you can say to yourself, “Awwwwww … honey”, because it was born out of pain and will be relieved with acceptance and compassion.
3. Only one person goes crazy at a time. In relationships, especially romantic ones, it is important that only one person “go crazy” at a time. I learned this from Dr. Jev Sikes. I like this term because I believe it to be true: when we have strong feelings brought on by our childhood problems, we are not rational or technically sane, no matter how much we pretend to be and believe what our problems tell us. Even those with the healthiest backgrounds have crazy spots. You may fear abandonment, for example. If this problem is triggered, you will feel like your partner is leaving you no matter what the truth is. Unfortunately, your belief that you will be abandoned can lead you to act in a way that will do just that. So in this example, you would act in a way that would distance your partner or make them want to leave you (perhaps through your anger, attachment, irrational / unfair evaluations of him / her, etc.).
However, it helps if each member of a romantic relationship understands the other’s problems and therefore cannot take them so seriously. Instead, give love and compassion to the people you care about when they turn on, and don’t try to reason with someone who is insane at the time! Crazy problems are meant to attract the other person and make them act in the expected way (abandon you, in the example we’ve been using). Therefore, it takes great willpower to give love and not react with your own corresponding crazy problem (for example, feeling badly judged or never good enough can be brought on by someone’s abandonment problems). The key is that one person’s crazy feelings and behavior don’t trigger the other’s (which, naturally, it will without active resistance).
Only one person can act crazy at a time and the other person should remain in a caregiver role rather than being dragged into an argument or the corresponding crazy place. If couples learn to avoid this dynamic of going crazy together, they will avoid many fights and, in fact, will be able to heal each other’s problems by giving love at key moments instead of reacting in a way that reinforces their partner’s fears. Also remember that you may be “right or in a relationship.” Choose to focus on the feelings and worry about the other’s feelings rather than fighting over the logistics (who is right / the facts, etc) which often don’t matter or if they do need to be discussed at a less emotional time.
Good luck! We talk much more about the healing process from different perspectives on our website http://www.deepeddypsychotherapy.com. I also wrote a book, listed there, on healing relationships. I wish you all the love for yourself that grows each day and the ability to surrender on this beautiful journey of life, including your pains. As you grow in self-love, I hope that you find a greater tolerance towards the tender (or crazy!) Areas of your loved ones where they have been hurt in the past and that you too can give them the love they need to heal. .