Don’t let pent-up negative energy get in the way of a happier future.
If you want to learn how to be happy again as a couple, there is one thing you need to do above everything else: Choose to be happy and commit to supporting yourself in that choice.
Of course, choosing to be happier doesn’t mean happiness instantly floods into your relationship. It just means you’ve committed to putting your attention on what will bring you happiness, rather than focusing on the conditions and events that brought you to a place of unhappiness with your partner in the first place.
With the intent to choose happiness from the list of emotions you could feel — including hurt and anger — and supporting yourself in doing so, your thoughts and behaviors will naturally fall in line with creating what you want.
It’s like putting the natural Law of Attraction to work for you. What you put your attention on grows, so use that principle to create what you want in your relationship by putting your attention on happiness.
It’s important to understand that this is not the same as slapping on a happy face sticker to cover up a scary, painful, or sad experience. It is vitally important to feel whatever emotions come up in your experience.
The difference between covering up pain and discomfort with artificial happiness and choosing happiness is in how you process the very real feelings you have about the current state of your relationship.
When you have made the choice and committed to learning how to be happy again in your relationship, the way you process your discomfort shifts. You still feel all the feelings, but in a conscious, purposeful way.
Emotions, whether painful or delightful, are just forms of energy, and energy needs to move. If you block it by masking it or pushing it away, it builds up and seeps out in uncontrolled and undesirable ways. Emotions are like water; they always find someplace to go.
Emotion simply needs to move and be on its way, in order to allow room for something else. Therefore, it makes sense to let emotions flow through when they come up.
However, the typical way people deal with negative emotions is to get in a perpetual drama around their feelings, rather than relating to them without attachment and seeing these negative emotions simply as energy on the move.
When you get attached to your pain, you believe your inner stories that support the pain — “he shouldn’t have yelled at me;” “she shouldn’t have cheated.”
You show up and relate to your negative emotions in one of three drama roles: villain, victim or hero.
When you’re relating to your negative emotions in one of these ways, rather than seeing them as energy, two things can happen:
- You recycle the pain, instead of releasing it. You tell yourself the story over and over and experience the associated emotions in a never-ending, self-destructive cycle.
- You perceive your partner as playing the reciprocal role and relate to them from that perspective, which perpetuates the toxic dynamic in your relationship.
When you are stuck in attachment to a story (as villain, victim or hero) and the feelings it evokes, you short circuit the natural free flow of emotional energy. You feel the feelings, but don’t actually allow them all the way through. You just keep revisiting them by staying in your drama role. This is the unconscious way to “process” emotion.
However, when you make the choice to be happy, you automatically must shift out of your drama role and its associated emotions. If you are choosing to be happy, it is impossible to simultaneously choose to hang on to being the “victim” to your partner’s “villain”. Clinging to those positions does not make anyone happy.
Right now, you may be wondering how you can choose happiness by stepping out of a drama role, when that position feels very right and necessary in your current relationship.
Your story may be: “He’s the villain, and I feel sad about the way he treats me,” or “I have to be the bad guy and get on his back because he doesn’t take any initiative to get a job, while we’re struggling to pay bills.”
It may be true, but replaying it over and over in your head won’t fix your relationship or help you learn how to be happy again as a couple.
When there is something happening in your relationship that is undesirable and painful, you don’t have to attach to it and continue to carry it. You can detach from it when you choose happiness.
If you feel sad thinking about your current situation, finding happiness again as a copule dictates that you drop the unhappy story you’re telling yourself about your relationship (even if it feels real and permanent).
Here is how to release pent-up negative emotions that keep you from being happy as a couple:
First, shift your attention away from the story’s script and toward the emotions instead. Focus on the energy, instead of the story.
Turn your attention toward the feeling and how it manifests in your body. Observe the sensations in your body and breathe, breathe, breathe. If the story pops up, choose happiness, drop the thoughts and refocus your attention on the physical sensations.
A wave of emotion can pass through in ninety seconds or less if you don’t keep adding fuel to the fire. Observe how the physical sensations intensify, shift in quality, or move to a different location until they eventually dissipate. Don’t judge this emotional energy, just watch it flow.
On the other side of the wave is space, clarity, and freedom to feel and believe something else. Notice whether the strength of your story lessens. Does it feel better to believe the story, or to let it go?
Realistically, doing this one time will not release the story forever. Humans like to protect their hearts with stories. Oddly, even when the stories are painful, you hang onto them; you believe they will help you avoid feelings and circumstances in the future that might be even more painful.
If you practice the art of freely letting emotion run through you, you will always come out on the other side feeling better, if even just a little bit.
But if you have not regularly practiced this form of releasing negative emotions, the stories come back to protect you from feeling the pain all the way — and cloud your ability to be happy in your relationship.
This is where that choice to be happy comes into play again. If you choose happiness, you choose to drop your limiting, pain-recycling stories when they arise and instead let the negative energy run through and dissipate — making room for happiness, love and an even stronger relationship.
You can practice this in private when you choose to work on releasing something, or you can do it in real time during an argument. It’s up to you what works best.
To use this technique of releasing negative emotions in real time, as soon as you notice yourself showing up in a story as villain, victim, or hero, let your partner know you’re stuck and you need to take a minute to let a wave of anger, sadness, or fear come through.
There may be multiple waves of these negative emotions. Just give yourself as much time as you need.
You will know when you are clear when your partner no longer looks like a villain, victim, or hero, and you no longer feel like one either. You’ll feel curious about your partner’s perspective, rather than absolutely convinced that your story is true.
Now, you’re available to to engage with your partner from open-hearted presence. To me, this is absolute happiness — being present to what is occurring, free of attachment and open to all possibilities, including open-hearted love for your partner just as they are in that moment.
So yes, you can learn how to be happy again as a couple. Choose to drop your story, feel your feelings, and open your heart again. Happiness in relationships is a choice you make moment by moment, day by day.