Common Human Fallacy

OTHERS ARE NOT THE SOURCE OF OUR HAPPINESS

Human beings require social interaction to remain mentally and emotionally healthy.  One of the fallacies of humankind insists that our value comes from being loved or being loveable.  It suggests being in relationship makes you valuable.  A formula like that insinuates others are the source of our identity and happiness, which is destructive to self and relationship.  We must not rely on others for our happiness.

In Crazy Rich Asians, Astrid Leong discovers her husband had an affair.  As they are parting ways, she makes a remarkable statement.

“It’s not my job to make you a man. I can’t make you something you’re not.

In marriage, we often have an ideal of what our spouse will be, how they will look, how they will behave, and how they will treat us.  We force our ideals onto our spouse, often forcing them to live in conflict with their true self.  We try to make them something they are not. 

Inner conflict produces resentment.  Resentment produces contempt and condescension, which destroy relationships.  When we force our spouse to be something other than what they are created to be, we create conflict and unhappiness for them and eventually for us.

Additionally, we do this with our children, coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends.  We expect them to be something they are not.  We expect or force them to behave, speak, and engage the world in ways that are not natural for them, but seem right for us.

This faulty way of thinking indicates you have the cognitive distortion referred to as the “shoulds.”

DON’T SHOULD YOURSELF

If you are struggling in relationship with someone, first ask yourself if you are trying to make them something you want them to be rather than who they are created to be.  When you learn to support them in their true identity and help them attain their true self, they will be happy, and you will be happy.

So remember, don’t rely on others for your happiness and fulfillment.  Likewise, don’t be the source of happiness for others either.  It’s not your job to make someone happy and it’s not their job to make you happy.

Most importantly, stop should-ing yourself.

 

One Thing You Need to Transform Every Relationship

Several years ago, there was an entertaining video going around social media.  I use it in Marriage Enrichment Courses.

It…well…just watch:

Funny…and true…almost.

It’s not just men who are “fixers.”  Some women have the need to “fix the problem” and some men have the need for someone “to just listen.”  Sometimes, we may be a person that needs to do both.  Regardless, the video demonstrates an important concept in relationships, whether in marriage, parenting, with co-workers, or neighbors.

The concept is to VALIDATE EMOTIONS.

Yes.  Simply listening to the other person, meeting them in their emotion, and validating that emotion, transforms EVERY relationship.

You can use phrases like these to help validate the emotions of another person:

  • I hear you.
  • ..You’re upset.
  • That’s upsetting.
  • You must be angry to talk to me that way.
  • I can understand how you would feel that way.
  • I would feel that way, too.
  • Help me understand.

Now, don’t confuse validation with approval.  Those are two different ideas.  Validation is simply hearing and attempting to understand the emotion that is surfacing in the other person.  When tend to think validating the emotion is approving of the resulting behavior, which is not the case.

We have no control over the emotions that surface within us.  They are largely genetic and learned and surface when needs are not met.  For instance, have you ever felt an emotion you didn’t want to feel…and not been able to stop it from surfacing?  There you go.

If someone were to validate that emotion for you, it helps take the edge off.  One word for that is normalizing.  It also demonstrates that the other person is listening to you (not attempting to fix you) and that you are being heard.  In these types of situations, we are not looking to be “fixed.”

We ALL want to be heard.  Validating emotion does just that.

It’s okay that emotions surface.  You have no control over when or which emotions surface.  However, you do have control over WHAT you do with them.  But that’s a topic for another blog.

For now…remember…it is not about the nail.

Finding You – Game of Thrones Style

In the last blog, we addressed each of us fitting in and having a place in the world.  However, we didn’t adequately address the harshness of the world when you are working toward the task.

One of today’s most popular series is Game of Thrones.  My favorite theme is of social outcasts finding their way into power; women, eunuchs, illegitimate sons, a little person, and slaves to name a few.  Each character overcame great odds, pain, and suffering to find such a place.

TYRION

Examine the life of Tyrion, an outcast, a little person, perceived as having no value by his father, sister, or any other wealthy or physically powerful person of the day.  He learned after almost being killed in battle and gaining a vicious scar on his face in the process, that he would never become a cunning warrior.  He knew he would never match up in physical prowess to the competition.

His greatest strength was his knowledge and the ability to drink the mightiest person under the table.  His infamous line affirms this truth, “That’s what I do.  I drink and I know things.”  Tyrion knew his place.

In a world that wanted to cast him aside, even end his life, he found a place to fit in.  Yet even though life was hard, he thrived.  He had to reimagine his place in the world.  He wouldn’t be a great warrior, but he would be a great thinker.  He would become the hand of the queen.

In the midst of great suffering, Tyrion remained resilient and hopeful.

SANSA

Sansa reimagined her place after a tortured existence, as well.  She desired marriage to a great king and knights competing for her honor.  Although she married a king, she received no such honor.  Instead, honor was stolen from her over and over.

However, she fought, learned, escaped, and stood for her humanity.  Eventually, she finds a different honor and a new place at Winterfell.

In the midst of great suffering, Sansa remained resilient and hopeful.

JON SNOW

And what about Jon Snow?  How often did he reimagine his place?  He came to terms with being the illegitimate son of Ned Stark instead of his true son.  He thought he’d be a knight in the Night’s Watch and instead he was a ward.  Over and over, his identity was redefined for him, until he eventually discovered he was an heir to the throne.  He was no bastard at all.  Jon overcame trial after punishment after pain.  He was even murdered by his “friends.”

In the midst of great suffering, Jon remained resilient and hopeful.

RESILIENCY AND HOPE

The world works hard to destroy people and their abilities to find themselves.  In my years working with people, I’ve heard many awful stories of pain and suffering.  However, the most resilient and hope-filled people are the ones who find their place and discover peace.  They look for anything positive and hope that something good will come to pass and improve their lot in life.

Resiliency triumphs over suffering at the world’s hands and is the key to finding your place.  It helps one learn from failure and suffering.  Hope is believing that something good can come out of even the worst situation.  Resiliency and hope reshape dreams, recast vision, and work hard to find the slightest bit of positivity in the worst situation.

FINDING YOU

You may not become Heir to the Throne, Hand of the Queen, or Lady of the North, but perhaps you can learn from your pain and suffering.  Perhaps you reshape your lot in life without sacrificing your true self.  It is through our failures and our toughest moments of pain and suffering in life that we find strength, character, and identity.  Just ask Sansa.

In the last episode, The Hound told her she, the “little bird,” should have left King’s Landing with him, insinuating she would have avoided the pain and suffering.  She responded, “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would’ve stayed a little bird all my life.”

May we all be more than little birds as we move through our pain and suffering.  Don’t give up.

Finding You

Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in?

During Season 3 of NBC’s This Is Us, Kevin Pearson spoke with his niece about the topic.  What he said resonated with me.

I think we go through this life slowly but surely, just collecting these little pieces of ourselves that we can’t really live without until eventually we have enough of them we feel whole.

It’s been the story of my life.  I wasn’t quite good enough to fit in with the “sports crowd.”  I wasn’t smart enough it fit in with the “smart crowd.”  I was a late bloomer.  My theology was not traditional enough.  I’m not republican but I’m not democrat.  To top it off, I’ve always dealt with depression.  Did I mention I am diabetic?

I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life.  I went to three colleges and had five different majors in five years.  I ended up with a degree in early childhood education, which I’ve used often, but not in the school system.  I later got a masters of divinity and nearly completed a doctorate in ministry, both with an emphasis on pastoral care.  I’ve used that education serving in five churches in 23 years.  Throughout my career in ministry, I was told I should eventually become a lead pastor because that’s what a “guy like me” does, but that never seemed like a good fit for me.

Yes.  I’ve had a hard time fitting in.

You may relate.  Or you may think my issues are inconsequential compared to yours.  That’s ok.  Regardless of our experiences, we ALL go through the task of trying to find our place, trying to fit in.  Some refer to this phenomenon as tribalism.  Religion refers to it as spiritual connectedness (or fellowship).  Neuroscience says the brain is social.

Whatever you call it, we are social beings.  At our core, we are social.  We MUST fit in to something, some group of people.  Therefore, we must figure it out.  For our mental and emotional health, we must figure it out.

For some, it may come quickly.  For others, it seems to be more of what Kevin Pearson was talking about; moving through life collecting pieces of who we are, discovering more of who we are.

In the early stages of life, look for sign post moments that define you and give you even a small piece of who you are.  Continue to put them together, knowing that you DO fit in.  There are other people like you.  According to most personality assessments, there are at least 6.25% of the world’s population that fit in your personality type and as many as 25%, depending on which one you use.

There are others like you.  Do the math with 7 billion people.

Those later in life, examine sign post moments from your past that give you a glimpse of your true self, discover various pieces of who you are, and put them together to find your place and true identity, where you fit in.

Throughout my life, I looked for a place to fit in.  Some moments and places were better than others.  However, when I look at signposts, I continuously find empathy, kindness, moments of existential wisdom that come without explanation.  I find the heart of a counselor.  So it’s no wonder I find myself here.  I took a lot of paths to find a lot of pieces, but now I have a bigger picture of the whole.  Make no mistake, there are still pieces to find.

The hard part is paying attention to the signs and the pieces and putting them together until you feel whole.  Even when the world and those in it attempt to corrupt them and make them harder to find, interpret, and put together.  Again, that’s why we are social.  Find others to help you sort the pieces and make sense of them.  Use a counselor.  I do.  Maybe you could benefit from ketamine or other wellness treatments to help you find, sort, and put together your pieces.  Do what you need to do.

May you find the pieces from your life that define you and help you know where you fit in.  May you know that you do fit in.  This world has a place for you.

Remember, the pieces are there.  Happy hunting.

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