Thank you all for your wonderful stories and comments during our five-week Choosing Happiness series! They were truly touching and we love that you shared your stories with us.
Many of you wrote and told us that you personally are working on choosing happiness, but have a close friend or loved one who can’t quite get there. No matter what you do or say, you can’t seem to make that person happy, and you’re frustrated.
Some of you feel a tremendous weight on your shoulders to make them feel better—but you continue to fall flat. You’re stressed about their happiness.
The question boils down to, “How do you support a loved one in choosing happiness… without losing yourself?”
First things first: there is a difference between someone who is clinically depressed and someone who consistently sees the “glass half empty.” We’re talking about the latter.
If you believe that someone is clinically depressed, then it’s very important for you to encourage them to get professional help. Click here to see the common signs of depression.
It’s tough watching someone choose to be unhappy. And unfortunately, you cannot make another person happy. All you can do is provide support—without taking their emotions on as your own.
Here are 3 simple things you can do to help support those “glass half empty” people without losing yourself:
- Just be there.
If you’re constantly trying to find the right “thing” that will make them happy, you will undoubtedly burn out.
Don’t try to solve the problem. Instead, ask this simple question, “Do you want to talk about it?” Too often in our attempt to be helpful we launch into solutions that people aren’t ready (or interested) in hearing.
- Separate their emotions from yours.
It’s okay to care deeply for people, and to want them to be happy and to see the possibilities and joys in life. And, it’s very important to not take their emotions as your own.
Despite what you believe, you do not have the power to change someone else’s emotional state. They are constantly choosing their response to the world around them.
If you feel sucked into their pain, anxiety, or pessimism, then you need to put a little emotional distance between you and them. You can say, “I’m sorry this is hard for you,” without taking it on as yours.
- Fuel yourself.
When you fuel yourself, you’re more resilient and able to bring yourself to the world in ways that are important to you. And you’ll have more of yourself to tap into when supporting others.
Find ways you can nourish yourself physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually so that you don’t lose your joy and love for life.
Supporting a loved one who has trouble choosing happiness can be very discouraging, frustrating, and even sad. It’s noble to want to help them “be happy,” but ultimately they need to choose happiness for themselves. Ironically, they may be able to do that better if you’re taking good care of yourself and not insisting that they change the way they relate to the world.
Please let us know what you struggle with in your support of your loved ones. We’re here to help.
Hugs to you,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting
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