“Do you have an extra pencil? I forgot mine, whoopsies”
"You moron! How come you're never ready? You're always taking and you never give.
I'm still missing the last 3 pencils I handed out that you forgot to give back.
Ugh I hate unprepared people and I think I hate you."
“Yeah sure, no problem buddy, you can have this one”
We've all been there, either the person who is asking or the other person who decides to bail them out.
Now logically, it's just a pencil. That's it. There's nothing special about it and it certainly shouldn't warrant this internal rage of a request from someone in need.
But it does.
We hold onto it for dear life because it is OUR pencil.
Then your internal scoreboard activates: it has been 5 hours, 37 minutes and 45 seconds that they have been in possession of what they "borrowed" from you. This is the 10th time they've done it.
I remember back in 1993 when I gave them a bite of my sandwich and they didn't have the common courtesy to share some fruit by the foot.
Grr how inconsiderate of them.
This is an exaggerated example of course but when we turn our attention to relationships, we neglect to recognize our own childish behaviors and attitudes.
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
If only he did this, then I would be happy.
If she looked like this, then I would be happy.
If only my boss wasn't like this, then I would be happy.
If only I had more money, then I would...
You get the point.
Hopefully you noticed the not so subtle message there. Most people are looking for happiness from something OUTSIDE to happen.
We're really good at assigning others as our Happiness Concierges.
And when they fail to deliver our satisfaction with a chocolate mint and our fulfillment with warm towels and a welcoming smile, well all hell breaks loose.
The evil E word comes out.
I EXPECTED you to do this.
You KNEW this would upset me.
You were supposed to KNOW this already.
And my personal favorite… I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TELL YOU!
Wow imagine if we removed the firing squad and inserted expectations and letdowns instead?
An Atom Bomb has nothing on someone you've disappointed and failed to make happy.
But there is another school of thought, so stay with me here because what I'm going to say is pretty heavy and controversial.
It's what I refer to as poking the bear.
Take a deep breath and hear me out. Are you ready? Ok here it goes…
Bring your own pencil.
Bring your own happiness with you wherever you go.
In romantic and/or professional relationships, the lie most people believe is that once THEY change THEIR behaviors, habits, rituals, etc. then that will make ME happy and complete.
The challenge with that is you're in a reactive state of hoping and wishing and waiting. While that pot is brewing, you sprinkle in some resentment and expectations and you've got a recipe for a horrible connection with another person.
"Geez Alex, you're laying it on pretty heavy here, is there any hope?"
Yes there always is hope (except if you're a Cowboys fan, then you're screwed).
The glimmer of hope is that you control your activity and attitude in almost any situation.
There are certain things that happen that go beyond our control and capacity for understanding but the majority of our interactions and relationships are designed, they're not by default.
When we truly accept full responsibility for our own satisfaction and happiness, that releases the unspoken expectations we place on others.
As a coach, my #1 job is to show up empty for my clients. If they receive a breakthrough during a session, then that's okay. If not, that's okay. If they say, wow you're amazing what a great coach you are… meh, that's great. And so on.
That's not to say I'm a soulless robot and I don't appreciate it but if I fall into the trap of believing what others say about me then I unconsciously hop on the see-saw of emotions between I'M THE GREATEST PERSON EVER and I SUCK, I'M A LOSER.
My happiness is dependent on your opinion.
My intention in life is to validate myself.
I've lived most of my life an addict.
I tried to find it with cigarettes, weed, pills, booze, powders, porn but the deadliest of these has been approval from others.
This grip never lets up. I could do a task perfectly and that benefits others but there will always be that nagging voice of "it could've been better or I would've done it like this".
How deflating is that?
Then we play the game of why care, does it even matter?
Of course it does but it has to matter with you first. You are the captain of your happy love boat.
When you give up that control, you're at the mercy of whatever anyone wants to give you.
And believe me if someone gets irritated at loaning you a pencil, then buc