On a breezy sunny day, I went rock climbing in Red Rocks with two extremely fit women who encouraged me to climb up a rock crack into a green gulch. I got halfway up the crack and started sweating, heart beating, legs shaking like Elvis. As they watched my every move, I couldn’t do it. I asked to be lowered to the ground.
My friend started doting on me. Not just “Are you ok?” but a flurry of questions: “What can I do for you? Do you want some water? Do you want some food? Do you want to leave?”
She was a really nice person. She was trying to be nice. She loved me. I loved her. We were great friends. She wanted to make me feel better. I totally get it. I’ve done the same thing to other people. Many, many, many times.
That day, I stopped her and said: “I must be making a terrible face and I must look awful.”
She said, “Yeah.”
I said, “It’s ok. I’m going to get over it.”
We were silent for a while. She looked at me sideways a few times, skeptical that I would get over it, but I did. Because guess what? I’m not a baby. I didn’t succeed at making it to the top of the climb. But, I can succeed at calming myself down.
I’m an adult. And I don’t need you to make me happy.
My happiness is my own responsibility. No one is required to make me happy. It’s not your job. So, if you’re my friend, I want to tell you this: I love you, and you’re fired.
When you have little children, it’s important to teach them to soothe themselves, to learn how to deal with difficult situations, to feel all of their feelings and know they will be ok.
This is what I’ll do: I’ll choose to be happy, or I’ll feel any other emotion I need to feel. I can do anger. I can do pain. I can do sad. I can do lonely.
Like you, I’m strong. I’ve felt all of those emotions before. They come and they go. They are like waves. I can stop resisting them and learn to surf. I don’t have clinical depression or a medical diagnosis that keeps me from being able to help myself. I’m a highly functioning adult.
Well, most of the time. 🙂
OF COURSE, I think it’s a great idea to ask for support from people when I’m not feeling great. But they aren’t always available. Sometimes I ask for hugs from my partner, but we’re out in the desert and he’s hot and sweaty and doesn’t want to give me a hug.
That’s ok. I can still do happy. I can squirt him with a squirt gun.
Here’s the thing: Do you think that you NEED someone to make you happy? Who are you clinging to in fear? Who are you bossing around in order to make you feel better? Is it really their job?
Grow up. Take that power back. Give that person a call, or sit them down across the table, and, in your best Donald Trump voice, tell them this:
I love you… and you’re fired.
And then stay tuned for next week, Part Two: I Don’t Have to Make You Feel Happy Either 🙂