Don't Be a Stranger in Your Own Life
If you have a tendency to depend on the outcome you want to feel good, simply put you are making others responsible for how you feel. You end up carrying water for others and resenting them when they don’t automatically return the favor. People pleasing or entertaining people with the expectation that they are obliged do the same for you will never result in happiness. Maybe for a short while, but that sort of happiness will soon evaporate into the ethers. You will end up exhausted, bitter, and will start carrying a chip on your shoulder. This is especially devastating to romantic relationships.
What you might nor realize is that when you are truly happy in such a way that nothing anybody does can change, it is because you are accessing your own personal power. If you fully realize it is your own personal power that energizes you, you would drop everything now and start your own journey, rather than being dependent on getting that energy out of your relationships.
A man who has been fortunate enough to have his emotional needs met in a good enough way will encounter a woman who rejects him, or a bad break up of a marriage or long term relationship like any other man. The difference is that he knows he is still an attractive, good person and can think with the mindset that it is nothing more than a short term setback, and move on with his life. This goes back to the developmental achievement that I referenced in one of the first posts on my blog, Stop Giving Away Your Power.
Winnicott wrote that this "capacity to be alone is a phenomenon of early life on which the foundation of sophisticated aloneness is built." This all starts in childhood. Having one’s needs met as a child in a 'good enough' way leads a person to feel confident about the present and the future, and the child is ready to develop healthy independence. If you did not have your emotional needs met, or you grew up under difficult circumstances, you will look to your intimate relationships to meet the needs that were not met for you when you were a child. You will seek validation from others and be more dependent on people to feel good about yourself and feed your ego. Therein will lie your difficulty. What we, as men, must understand is that though it all begins with our mothers, to take that step into manhood it cannot end with our mothers.
This does not end with romantic relationships. This dynamic, anxiety, and insecurity carries over into all of your relationships including work, friendships, and fatherhood. Through a divorce a man may be overly concerned with whether his child likes him or his ex-wife better, playing into the popularity contest, when this not only totally misses the mark, but can end up being emotionally damaging to the child.
Being aware of this and learning how to meet your own needs first is paramount. The good news is that it is possible to overcome a difficult childhood. You’re going to have to be willing to change: change the way you look at yourself, change your behavior, change your focus from other to people onto yourself.
This reminds me of a fascinating film called "The Taste of Others." The main character is a businessman who spent his life preoccupied with his work, and 'going along' with what his wife wanted in their social life and household. One day he wakes up and becomes intrigued with the lifestyle of a woman he comes across, and eventually falls in love with her. He slowly realizes that his life and what surrounds him is completely alien to the person he realizes he is, and that in his marriage of many years he has been living someone else's life. He has become a stranger in his own life.
Avoid becoming a stranger to yourself by refusing to organize your life around what other people like just to avoid the pang of temporary loneliness. Goethe said, "As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." Instead make choices for yourself, even if they are not popular with other people. Get in tune with what your own needs are, and learn how to meet them yourself. Only after knowing them yourself can you find a relationship in which your partner understands your needs. Find the joy in this challenge of learning about your self, and bring this joy to the interaction you have with others. In this way you live and convey your true value. This journey of self-actualization is the true path to happiness and authentic relationships.
"One must give value to their existence by behaving as if ones very existence is a work of art." ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Winnicott, D.W. (). The capacity to be alone.