The truth is no one is responsible for our happiness other than ourselves. It may sound harsh, but it is a fact of life. We all want happiness, but many look for it in the wrong place. We place our happiness expectations at someone else’s door and then struggle when happiness doesn’t come our way.
So, how do we find happiness if we can’t depend on other people? Several factors influence our happiness; this includes our environment, genetics, and culture. Taking accountability for your happiness is one of the most incredible acts of self-love.
This article will discuss happiness and why it’s dangerous to depend on others for it. It will also suggest five tips to help you stop relying on others for your happiness.
What exactly is happiness?
Happiness is a universal feeling, but the causes of it aren’t necessarily universal. What makes me happy may not make you happy, and vice versa. My greatest happiness source is nature, running, my dog, and spending time with loved ones. I don’tdon’t have or want children, but I don’tdon’t dispute that they bring many people happiness.
According to this article, there are three aspects to securing happiness.
- Pleasure - doing things that we enjoy.
- Engagement - feeling interested in our activities and the people around us.
- Meaning - believing that what you do matters.
I think it’s important to note that happiness is a journey, not a destination. It’sIt’s something we feel in the moment and varies daily depending on our environment.
What are the dangers of depending on others for happiness?
No one else is responsible for your happiness, and if you place that burden on anyone else, you give away your power.
Yes, it is natural that other people influence our happiness levels. But if we depend on others for our happiness, we lose our self-efficacy and risk leaning into learned helplessness habits if things go wrong with the relationships from which we once derived our happiness.
Expecting other people to be the source of your happiness places an unfair and undue burden on them. Relationship experts recommend that you must be happy with yourself before dating if you want a healthy relationship. And too many people bring children into this world to fill a happiness void.
The strain and pressure of relying on others for happiness can have a perverse effect. This pressure can result in relationship breakdowns, family estrangements, and deep unhappiness.
My friend has two teenagers. She subsumed herself into her mothering role and gave up all her hobbies and interests. For a long time, she lived vicariously through her children. Her children feel suffocated and push her away, causing her deep unhappiness. She relied on her children for her happiness for many years and is now at a loss. Hopefully, she will reacquaint herself with her old passions.
Healthy relationships will likely bring happiness, but as soon as we expect others to provide our happiness, we are on a downward slope.
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5 ways to stop depending on others for your happiness
Human beings are social creatures; people can bring us immense happiness. But the problems arise when we depend on others for our happiness. We must learn to create our happiness without imposing this expectation on others.
Here are 5 ways to help you stop depending on others for your happiness.
1. Do what makes you happy
I used to have a friend who disappeared every time she was in a relationship. She didn’t just vanish from her friends but also relinquished her passions. And in her pursuit to turn the object of her affection and attention into her one-stop shop for everything, she adopted his hobbies and interests. Honestly, it was peculiar to watch.
Did it make her happy? Hell no, each relationship died a predictable death when she couldn’t figure out why they didn’t make her happy.
She sold out herself and her interests and handed the mantle of happiness responsibility to a succession of men. Ironically they were attracted to her in the first place because she had passions and was interesting, but she let all this slide and sucked them dry. They were left in a void of nothingness. Not a happy place!
My partner and I have very different interests. And this is ok. He would never ask me to quit my interests to spend more time with him, and I would never do so. By spending time on things that bring me happiness, I show up as a happy person for my partner.
To find happiness, you must do what makes you happy, not what makes someone else happy!
2. Learn healthy attachment
The British psychoanalyst John Bowlby came up with what we now know as the four key attachment styles which we learn in infancy.
These attachment styles are:
We all carry remnants of our attachment styles from childhood into adulthood. Our relationships reflect our attachment styles. For instance, anxious-ambivalent people are often emotionally dependent on others in adulthood, meaning how they rely on others affects their well-being and, in turn, their happiness.
If your attachment style hinders your happiness, consider working with a therapist.
3. Find a balance
Reciprocity in relationships, whether romantic or platonic, is essential. When we rely on others to make us happy, we often invest too much of our energy and time in them and may become resentful if we don’tdon’t get as much back. Our over-enthusiasm can send the rules of reciprocity off-kilter.
Learn to find a balance in your relationships. If needed, this balance means expanding your social network to alleviate the pressure you may place on one individual. We are social creatures, and different people bring out different elements of us. When we build up our tribe of incredible people, we spread our expectations of others, promoting a healthy relationship balance.
4. Beware of unhappiness anchors
Having poor mental health can have a devastating impact on our well-being. Unhealthy relationships can exacerbate poor mental health; sometimes, unhealthy relationships can cause poor mental health.
But we need to be very careful here because it's just as unhealthy to anchor our unhappiness onto others as it is to anchor our happiness onto them. In many situations, people may have nothing to do with our psychology.
Do you tend to hold others accountable for your unhappiness? Do you blame your children, partner, friend, or someone else? If so, you are just as likely to place the burden of your happiness on them.
No one is responsible for your unhappiness; you choose how you respond to them. You may not like something they have said or done, but how you react to them is your choice. You choose your emotions, and you control how you feel inside. Once you learn this, you will also see the same pattern with happiness.
I am compelled to link to my favorite happiness image; it strikes a powerful message about creating our own happiness.
5. Weed the friendship flowerbed
One of the most crucial things to bring a healthier balance of happiness and other people into your life is to untangle unhealthy or toxic relationships. Spend more time with people who raise you up and leave you feeling energized and less time with those who constantly complain, criticize, or drag you down.
I appreciate that you can’t just cut some people out of your life; this is where boundaries are essential.
Because ultimately, if you are seeking happiness from people with whom you have a complex and challenging relationship, you will only ever be disappointed.
Learn to make your own happiness and share it with others as a gift.
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It’s empowering to realize we are responsible for our happiness. No one else can control how we feel, and once we control our happiness levels, we experience a boost in our well-being and sense of life satisfaction.
Don’t forget our five tips to stop you from depending on other people for your happiness.
- Do what makes you happy.
- Learn healthy attachment.
- Find a balance.
- Beware of unhappiness anchors.
- Weed the friendship flowerbed.
Do you have any tips for how to take full ownership of your happiness? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!