When looking for the cause of their unhappiness and frustration, most people look outside of themselves. After all, wouldn’t life be perfect if the significant people in our lives would simply do things the way we think is best? Unfortunately, it’s this kind of thinking that perpetuates the misery.
Most of today’s unhappiness centers on the important people in our lives not cooperating with us. Did your child ever make a decision that put them in serious danger? Did your significant other make an employment decision you didn’t agree with? Did your parents ever say something critical to you that rocked your confidence? Ever had a supervisor who micromanaged your work and never gave you credit for your good performance? These kind of things can be a big source of unhappiness for us; if only these people would cooperate and act the way we want them to, our lives would be so much better, happier, and more fulfilling.
While it sure does feel that way, what I also believe is this: While we are busy trying to get people to do things our way, the behaviors we use to coerce others are the same behaviors that damage and, ultimately, destroy those relationships. You know the behaviors I’m talking about: punishing, guilting, complaining, nagging, threatening, criticizing, ignoring, and, if we are particularly savvy, rewarding to control—otherwise known as bribing.
If you’re someone whose first choice of action is to open the doors of communication and negotiate, then you are rare. What do you typically resort to when negotiations fail?
One of my more polished behaviors is nagging. I am a world class nag—just ask my children. You know the drill: “How about cleaning up your room today?” Thirty minutes later, after the child is still in front of his video game, “Are you going to get to that room today?” Maybe two hours later, several decibels louder, “What about that ROOM?” Then, as a last frustration, “Will you get off your lazy a*# and clean your blankety-blank-blank room!!!!” Ever been there? Did it work to get the room cleaned? In my case, it usually didn’t.
When parents tell me their repetitive nagging works, I usually ask them, “At what cost?” What was the cost of getting that room cleaned? First, there was the cost of you losing control and being a person you probably don’t want to be. Secondly, there was a definite cost to the relationship between you and your child. Do you believe that after an exchange like that, the two of you would be ready and willing to have any kind of meaningful discussion? Probably not.
You, and you alone, are responsible for your own happiness, and perhaps that truth goes against what you’ve believed for the majority of your life. If you think you’ll finally be happy when someone does something differently or a particular thing manifests itself in your life, then you are operating from the outside in instead of the inside out.
I am not telling you to stop what you are currently doing. If you want to hold on to your beliefs that when your husband becomes more affectionate, your children more obedient, your wife more supportive, your boss more appreciative, or when you get your education, pay off your credit cards, or buy your first home in order for you to be happy, then go ahead. But for those of us who want to practice InsideOut thinking, we don’t like to give others the power to control our happiness or any of our other moods or emotions. We know that we are responsible for ourselves and no one else.
What I can help you with is learning how to be the person you want to be. By changing what you do and how you think about things, you can feel the emotions you want to feel. There is a quote I want to leave you with from Jimmy Dean: “You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” This represents true InsideOut thinking. People and events are going to be what they are around us. There is very little we can do to impact other people’s behavior and the uncontrollable events in our lives, but there is always something each of us can do to manage those things better.
Most people look outside of themselves as the cause of their unhappiness or frustration. Learn how to practice InsideOut thinking and realize that you alone are responsible for your own happiness.
If you would like more information on how to improve your life and the relationships you have with the important people in your life, consider taking a Basic Intensive Training.. it will change your life! For more information go to www.RealityTherapyCentral.com.