Article by Wendy McCance
I have had some opportunities in the last couple of years to really teach my kids about the importance of depending on yourself and not others to fulfill your own happiness. I have been grateful to be able to show the kids from some personal examples why it’s so important to develop your own interests and find ways to enjoy your own company.
About a year and a half ago, we had a person who is close to our family stay at our home for about 5 months. They had just divorced, and needed a place to stay while they got back on their feet. At the time they weren’t making enough money at their job to live on their own. We were happy to have them stay with us and excited to see them move forward in life. It never happened.
Instead of working on their own needs, they ran from their issues. They decided that the only thing they could endure was going out each night to hang out with friends. They were only at the house when they needed to sleep.
My husband and I sat down with them after 3 months and laid it out there. We asked them what their plans were and how long they thought they would be staying with us. The answer was, “well I hope I am able to move out within a year.” We asked how they planned on getting enough money together to move? They had no idea. We told them that either they had to put a plan in place to get back on their feet and pursue it, or leave. Maybe that sounds harsh, but they were doing nothing to help themself.
This close friend of the family said something that really threw me. They said that they couldn’t stand to spend time alone. They felt uncomfortable unless surrounded by people. This was why they were always out with friends.
In the end, they came up with a plan, and left our home 2 months later. The lesson they left behind was one we saw repeated a second time by another close friend.
Friend number 2 was always in a romantic relationship. They would end one relationship only when there was someone else in the wings ready to replace the prior person. They had the same issue of not being able to tolerate being without someone around.
Friend number 2 has crashed and burned numerous times. The problem has been that they have no idea who they are, and are unwilling to spend time just working on their own needs. They look to others to make them feel happy and fulfilled.
The problem with looking to others to fulfill your happiness is that no other person can ever be everything to you. When someone like friend number 2 doesn’t feel the complete happiness they hoped another would bring them, they become completely disillusioned and angry. Any disappointment is more hurtful to them than your average person. The reason is because they placed the responsibility of all of their happiness on another’s shoulders. They didn’t understand that for real happiness to occur, you have to make the effort to make yourself happy.
I was talking with one of my children about friend number 2. My daughter mentioned that they felt sorry to see friend number 2 so lost and depressed (they were in the middle of another relationship that was falling apart and there wasn’t anyone waiting in the wings to replace them this time).
I took the opportunity to remind my daughter why it was so important to love yourself. People won’t always be there. It is up to each person individually to find what makes them feel good about themselves. Find out what hobbies you enjoy, learn what types of things interest you and above all else, pursue your dreams. Without knowing who you really are, what makes you tick and what makes you feel good, you will end up lost, miserable and incomplete. It’s so important teaching kids how to create their own happiness. It is a lesson they will use throughout their entire life.
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