So often we feel judged or disappointed by others when really it is ourselves at the root of the negativity. If we choose to be upset, to feel failed by others, that will be our path. However — as irksome as it is to admit — the choice to experience those emotions is ours and we cannot rightfully blame others for those sentiments if we fostered an environment in which those feelings flourish.
This doesn’t mean others are blameless for their missteps, or that our own actions are without impact. It simply means that another’s transgressions — perceived or accurate — do not entirely dictate our emotional response. We control our emotions.
At times, we can project our insecurities onto others. This can lead us to make false assumptions about others. We may feel self-conscious and that sentiment can lead us to interpret another’s squint of questioning recognition or protective body language stemming from shyness as judgment or assumed superiority. This can lead us to assume others react negatively towards us when that is not the case. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy though, if we act on our projections and adopt a standoffish demeanor as a mode of self-preservation.
Even if a person is judging us, we have the power to rise above it. We can’t control how others behave, but we can control how we respond. We can choose how to react. We can be riled or we can be calm, we can feel persecuted or we can feel unaffected. It’s our decision, no one else’s.
Sometimes we can let our expectations of others become outlandish or inappropriate for the individual. “Set people up for success; manage people according to their strengths,” a wise supervisor once told me. It was brilliant advice that was widely applicable.
If someone is a wonderfully fun friend but does not have a mind for dates, we shouldn’t expect him or her to remember our birthday. We shouldn’t get offended, we shouldn’t get upset, just should set our expectations in accordance with the friend’s strengths. If we want to socialize with that friend on our birthday, we should initiate an activity with that friend for our birthday. If we want a big gathering, plan it. If we want an intimiate get-together, arrange it. We shouldn’t live our life expecting others to read our mind, unless we want drama and unhappiness in our life.
Also, we shouldn’t expect our friends to be any different than they are simply to suit our whims — that is a line of thinking bound for heartache. Instead, we should set expectations based on individuals’ strengths — not our own strengths or wishes — and communicate clearly, thereby choosing to be happy.
We can choose to be happy or unhappy. Life’s events and scenarios may sway us one way or another but we are, in the end, the ones choosing our emotional response. We control our feelings; they do not control us.
Taking hold of our emotional state takes practice. It takes effort. It takes self-control. It takes a willpower. It takes a sturdy ego because we need to be able to call ourselves out on our bullsh*t.
Rely on yourself to create your own happiness and you’re bound to be more content. Depend on others to make you happy and you’re likely to be perpetually unhappy.