“Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” – Khalil Gibran, Marriage
Several years ago I found myself in a relationship with a Farmer. Me! A born and bred East London City-Girl driving tractors and milking cows!
I was on cloud 9. The monotony of my 9 to 5 cubicle job and the cold ceaseless march of the city from Monday to Friday couldn’t even compare with the bliss of our weekends in the country. I didn’t bat an eyelid as my happiness slowly began to transfuse across to only existing while I was on the farm, with the farmer.
When the relationship started to crumble a year later, I felt my sense of self, crumble with it. I had gone beyond investing in the success of the relationship, to handing over my happiness in its entirety; there was nothing left within me.
Never Put the Key to Your Happiness in Someone Else’s Pocket
Here are seven ways placing the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket (as I did) is a bad idea, and what we can do to change it.
1. We drift into “as soon as” and “if only” territory
“As soon as I live on the farm I will be happy.”
“If only I didn’t have to go back on Sunday evening then I’ll be happy”.
We’ve all been in that place of discomfort where we are waiting on someone else to give us permission to feel in a positive state of mind (or waiting with trepidation for them to screw it up!).
When we accept that our happiness is not an “if-then” formula, we realize that we no longer need to look to someone else to provide it for us, and instead we can reframe our mindset to appreciate happiness when it is available: in any given moment.
2. We never take action toward our dreams
Some years later I realized that I desired to live in the country just as much as I wanted the relationship, so dating a farmer was no coincidence!
I had placed my dream on the Farmer to fulfill for me, rather than figuring out action steps I could take for myself to achieve it.
When someone else holds the key to our happiness, we shirk our responsibility to take personal action toward our own goals and dreams. We wait for the other to open the door for us, and if they don’t we harbor resentment and blame them for holding us back.
Rather we should get back in the driver’s seat ask ourselves, “what do I want? And what can I do now to move me closer to it?
3. Extreme mood swings
I remember on the weekends where I couldn’t go up to the farm I felt my happiness was being stripped from me. My emotions would go haywire! I felt powerless, resentment, anger and upset. My mood was completely dependent on his choices, which didn’t always line up with my expectations.
When we remain the keeper of our own happiness, we feel disappointed when things don’t always as anticipated, but we also feel content with a Plan B, because all the while we are carrying our own happiness with us, no matter what we are doing.
4. It cultivates the “victim” mentality
My hypersensitivity and worry over the loss of the relationship – and loss of my happiness with it – meant that I began to feel like a victim: that things were happening ‘to’ me all the time.
Quite simply, when we accept that happiness lies within, we approach our life from an empowered – rather than weakened and victimized – state of mind.
5. We find it difficult to live with uncertainty
In return for handing my happiness to the Farmer, I was seeking a perfect guarantee of his love. This would be impossible, as human beings are not perfect.
When we keep hold of our own happiness, it gives us the strength to sit with the uncertainty of love. We can enjoy and have faith in the rollercoaster of relationships and their inevitable changeability, rather than fearing the loss of our joyful self.
As I continued to invest more of my happiness into the relationship each day, I began to ignore communication with my gut.
According to the psychologist Carl Jung “Cognitive Function Scale”, it is not possible to Think to the same degree as we Feel at the same time, nor to Sense to the same degree as we Intuit at any one time.
Although my intuition was screaming that this was a bad decision, my mind was dominated by my persuasive ‘thinking’ nature, and by the sensations of adoration for him, and country living.
We need to rebalance our decision-making toward our primal instinct, which has existed and protected us far longer than our reasoning mind. We can tune into it by sensing the physiological feelings of ‘wholeness’ or ‘emptiness’ in our gut as we make decisions about the direction of our life.
7. We detach ourselves from deeper spiritual connection
By pouring my happiness into the relationship, I was attempting to trade my “happiness” for the prospect of something better: “completion”. This bargaining behavior is typical of our ego, that fearful part of us that tries to keep us away from our enlightened self in order to sustain itself.
A Course in Miracles teaches us that there is nothing outside of ourselves, and it is through realizing this that we are reconnected with our divine magnitude and inner peace is restored.
Where fear has entered, love cannot exist. The only place we should surrender our entire selves – happiness included – is to our healing higher selves.
In the words of Khalil Gibran, “fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf”. This saying teaches us that happiness should not be given away and in doing so suffered fearfully as a sense of loss, rather, happiness is a blessing to be kept safe from us, but liberally shared, and enjoyed with one another and, through doing so, multiplied onward in others.