Happiness is accepting you have no control over others.

The sooner we realise that we have no control how other people act and react the happier we will be.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, in fact it’s frustrating, infuriating and often heartbreaking.

So while everyone else is busy working on gratitude I’m in the corner quietly working away on this.

There are days when I think I’ve mastered it and then something will happen that knocks me for six.

In my early 20s I was naive and still believed that I could make the person in my life love me by making a massive effort or acting a certain way.

I recall a special night when I planned this person’s favourite meal, dessert, beverage and even organised the house to ourselves, not an easy feat when you share a flat.

All week I was excited. An hour after this person was due to arrive I started to worry. Nearly two hours passed before I got a message saying he hadn’t even left work yet. Tears.

Nearly 3 hours late, this person arrived. I was expecting a big apology, a grateful smile and a thanks. I was greeted with a stressed, angry and frazzled person who resented the fact they had to be there.

Of course I made excuses for their behaviour and convinced myself that if I stuck at it I would eventually be able to get this person to react how I wanted them to.

For years I tried and nothing changed. Of course it didn’t, people don’t change, but I again I was young and still thought I could make someone treat me the way I deserved to be treated.

But no matter how hard you try you can not make someone react or act a certain way.

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Even with children there’s no guarantee they will realise that you spent two hours driving to get a special set of Russian dolls just like you had as a kid.

Sure you can expect gratitude and then explain to them the significance of the gift but you can’t FORCE them to give you the reaction that you crave.

You have to act without expecting anything in return or else you will end up bitter, sad and cynical.

It would be nice if those we love acted the way we want them to but chances are they won’t always and that’s okay.

It has to be okay otherwise you’ll end up in circles all bent out of shape.

I suppose it’s a bit like being able to give a person a present without expecting anything in return.

A friend said something wise to me when I was living in Sydney and dating someone who treated me like crap.

I sought advice about whether I should send this person a text message just to remind them that I still existed.

“Sure you can, but only send it if you’re okay with not getting a response because chances are you won’t.”

I sent the text, I didn’t get a response and I wasn’t alright because I wasn’t okay with their rejection. I was basing my worth on how someone reacted to me.

Gosh that was a hard but valuable lesson to learn.

It has taken me YEARS and YEARS not to collapse in a heap every time someone doesn’t react how I want or expect them to.

As a parent I want my children to learn this from an early age, that you can’t make someone do or say what you want them to.

This doesn’t make them any less of a person or friend, it just means that the only person you are control of in your life is yourself. And that is the way it should be.

I’ve had an emotional week with my two of children having their tonsils removed. It’s not a biggie really but it was for my son who I feel suffers from post-traumatic stress following major kidney operations earlier this year.

When I was asked for support from someone they didn’t react the way I thought they should and it floored me. I’m still a bit angry about it really but what’s the point?

The sooner we accept that we have no control over how someone else reacts the happier we will be.

Try not to hinge your happiness on how other people react to you or else you will never be truly content.

Ever been gutted when someone didn’t react how you wanted them to?

What are you working on right now? I’m about to work on a wine in a minute!

Comments

  1. Yes and sadly it’s an ongoing thing with my mother. A mother who walked out when I was about the same age as my eldest now, who if I’m honest wasn’t really around much when I needed her and who has now shacked up with her latest misfit guy who has an 8 year old son. To watch her parent and nurture a child now when I didn’t have that, was a real kick in the guts and ruined what should have been a fantastic trip back home earlier this year.

    Moving 4000 km away does help.

    Anyway, I’ve said too much. I haven’t said enough…. that’s me in the corner… losing my religion. Possibly my theme song this year.

    • dear raych! … a catch phrase for me is … it’s out of my hands!
      R.E.M. love them I was at art school then and I learnt all the teenage music!
      if I need to be cathartic I put that on and sing really loud!
      lots of love m:)X

  2. I’m a pleaser by nature. I’ve had my fair share of heartache when people haven’t reacted the way I’d hoped.
    We’ve been working on washing the house before the bank revalues the farm on Tuesday. I’ll be working on a well-earned wine a bit later on.
    Enjoy yours lovely!

  3. We can influence the way other people act or react by the ripple affect of our own behaviour toward them but your are so right… we have no complete control over their behaviour. And the only thing we CAN change is the way WE deal with the outcomes.

    In these situations I have found that people are often stuck in their own fear of not really knowing what to do or say so do nothing, or don’t act at all out of oblivious unintentional ignorance for what you need.

    If their reaction is based on their own fear, I’ve discovered while I was in my corner quietly dealing with the hurt and disappointment of their in-action they were often in their corner dealing with feelings of guilt, anxiety and shame.

    When I woke up that often peoples fears of not knowing what to say or what to do keep them stuck from engaging in meaningful experiences and exchanges that may enrich both peoples lives, I actually started to feel sad for them more than I felt hurt for myself.

    Took a lot of years for me to be okay with this. Sometimes even now the intial shock when it does happen kicks like a mule – but I don’t bruise anymore.

    Big squeezy hugs for you Emily. The time warp you are in at the moment will change shape after a little more time has passed Xx

  4. Oh I am hearing you! I suffer in exactly the same way…but I think as I get older I am getting better at coping with that feeling of being let down.

    I used to say as I cried on my husband’s shoulder “I just want people to treat me as I would treat them”. I try to be a thoughtful, forgiving and loyal friend, partner, daughter, sister etc (I don’t always get it right hence forgiveness is something that I value deeply). When it is not reciprocated I am gutted.

    I console myself by trying to remember that I am responsible for the way that it makes me feel. No-one else. That I must accept other people’s differences, short-comings, differing priorities (that may not include me!), lower my expectations sometimes and know that I am still worthy!

  5. My mum always puts herself out there and is constantly disappointed when people don’t respond in the way that she wanted or anticipated. I too love nothing more than making other people happy, I guess I’m a pleaser but I’ve learnt that everyone is responsible for their own happiness. So when I put something good out there, I always know that it’s like a boomerang, it may or it may not come back. It’s taken me a long time to learn, that everyone is different and when people don’t respond in quite the way I planned, I realise it’s not me, it’s them. I just put my emotional raincoat on and get on with it! (Emotional raincoats are totes a thing!) You’ve had such a big week, with surgeries and funny tongues. Be kind to yourself, love. Here’s a big hug for you xx

  6. Ahhhhh…. Very true. This is something I often forget and it’s a hard one for me.

  7. Funnily I recently said the same thing to a family member who is going through a painful marriage break-up.

  8. Ditto on the 20s thing. I love that as I get older I worry less. It used to tie me in knots. Then I realised it’s actually incredibly self centred to believe that your actions, and yours alone, influence another person, whether negatively or positively. They own their feelings and have to be responsible for them.

  9. I learned this lesson the hardest way possible when my middle son died. I really wanted people to act in a certain way, and of course, they had no idea how to act. In the end, it was a blessing – some of the things people said and did I wouldn’t have asked for but they taught me a lot. I always tell myself out of all the things I cannot control, I can control how I act and react.

  10. A friend recently reminded me of the phrase ‘Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe’ which I love! It’s important to share experiences with the people around us, but ultimately we’re all on our journey and you can’t force anyone to do things the way you’d like them done. Tough lesson to learn! It’s really lovely the way you are so aware of these key moments and make a conscious effort to teach your kids how to navigate them. Hope the tonsil-free little ones are on the mend x

  11. that’s for sure em! … it’s good for control freaks to be reminded of that from time to time!
    love m:)X

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