Sometimes it can seem like your happiness is dependent on your partner changing the way they are behaving or thinking.
We have all been there after a fight or at the end of a relationship.
We think, “I could be happy if he would just come to his senses and appreciate what we have together.” Or “If she would just do things my way, I would feel so much happier.”
The problem with this approach is that placing the condition of our own happiness on another person’s thoughts and behavior is futile. It is futile because these are things over which we have NO control. Even if they were to change their minds, the relief would only be temporary because we would then be worrying about their future behavior, afraid that they will do something again that will cause our unhappiness. It is a temporary and pseudo fix.
So what is the alternative then?
From where you sit in deep sadness/anger/fear, your partner really looks like the problem and the cause of your current emotional state. The truth is, however, that you are the creator of your own experience. That is not to say that your relationship woes are not something about which you should feel sad or angry or fearful. It means that you have a choice whether you perpetuate an undesirable emotional experience based on where you choose to focus your attention.
When I say this to clients who are feeling deep sorrow, they often react angrily (I know I did when it was suggested to me.) and say “That’s not true. This is very sad and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t make myself feel happy.”
This is where I actually agree – you cannot make yourself leap from despair to genuine joy from one moment to the next. These are emotional states with vastly different energetic vibrations. They are energetically opposite. Sorrow and despair feel dense, dark, slow, and constricting. Joy feels light, quick, and expansive. To think you can move energetically from one to the other in an instant is unrealistic and just as futile as expecting someone else’s behavior to create and sustain true and lasting happiness in ourselves.
If you can’t jump from despair to joy and you can’t stand being in despair any longer, then what can you do?
The answer is to move just a little bit in your mind and heart. The way you get to a much better feeling emotional state is bit by bit. One of the best techniques I know for doing this is taught by Abraham-Hicks and is called Round the Clock.
You can do this practice in your head or on a piece of paper. Begin by imagining in your mind’s eye a clock (analog) or draw one on a piece of paper. Starting at 12 o’clock, think of or write down your current thought, like – “I won’t be happy until he comes to his sense and comes back to me.” That feels pretty awful and is rooted in powerlessness. Move your attention to the 1 o’clock spot and come up with a better feeling thought – try anything that feels even slightly better and try it out to see if it actually feels better. Maybe you try on, “He is such a jerk.” Check to see if it feels better.
If it doesn’t, try something else. You could try “I would never treat anyone the way he is treating me.” If that feels better move to 2 o’clock and, so on and so on. Here is an example of a full loop:
12 O’clock – “I won’t be happy until he comes to his senses and comes back to me”
1 o’clock – “He is such a jerk.” Self check-in – “Yuck, that doesn’t feel better.”
“I would never treat anyone the way he is treating me.” Better, move on
2 O’clock – “I know how I want to treat people I love.” Feels better. Move on.
3 O’clock – “I will never love anyone the way I love him.” Yuck. Try again.
“I know how I want to be treated.” Feels better. Move on.
4 O’clock – “I have seen healthy relationships like the one I want.” Feels better. Move on.
5 0’clock – “It’s possible that I could meet someone more aligned with my values.” Feels better. Move on.
6 O’clock – “But I don’t want to go through the whole dating process again.” Yuck, wrong direction. Try again.
“I don’t have to start a new relationship right now.” Feels better. Move on.
7 O’clock – “It might be nice to be on my own for a while.” Feels better. Move on.
8 O’clock – “There are things I have wanted to try that he didn’t want to do. I could try them now.” Feels better. Move on.
9 O’clock – “Maybe I will meet some new people more interested in the same things as me.” Feels better. Move on.
10 O’clock – “I like meeting new people.” Feels better. Move on.
11 O’clock – “A new hobby would be fun.” Feels better. Move on.
12 O’clock – “I am going to check that class catalog right now.”
Notice how far from the original thought you can get with a natural process of incremental thought shifting.
By the end of the process, the “cause” of the original bad-feeling thought isn’t even a factor any more. The most important element of this exercise is that you tune into what feels better to YOU and only move forward when you find it.
If the process works for you, then use it when you find yourself stuck in an emotional state that doesn’t feel good to you.
Another important part of this process to keep in mind is that you use it when you find yourself mired in a circular pattern of thought and emotion that you want to move beyond into something more in alignment with where you want to be.
This DOES NOT mean suppressing or squashing emotion.
When you feel an emotion arising, let it pass through and then let it go. Instead of recycling it with thoughts that bring it back over and over, focus your attention on the better feeling thought. It is a way of breaking the cognitive-emotive loop that keeps you stuck. It is a way of consciously moving toward what you want and how you want to feel, rather than unconsciously holding yourself hostage in pain and sorrow.
The most wonderful thing about the practice of shifting energy and emotion through focused attention is that it does not depend on anyone else but you. You have the all the skill, knowledge, and awareness you need to change your emotional state. Now go out and raise your vibration and be happy.
PS: Some times the recycling pattern can be deeply ingrained and it can be helpful to have an unbiased observer help you to shift and stay on track.
If you want support establishing your own practice of shifting your emotional state into sustained happiness, schedule a support session with me.