Emily’s Quest

June 15, 2009

Happiness and the Holes Within

Filed under: Inspiration, Philosophising — Tags: , , , , , , — Emily @ 12:22 pm

Recently, in my random web browsing, I came across this article by Steven Stosny called Marriage and the Power to be Happy.  Although ostensibly about marriage, I think there are some really important ideas in this article not just about relationships in general but also about the way we all tend to approach life. 

For one thing, I LOVE this sentiment, expressed in the first paragraph:

I continue to be amazed when people protest about the “unfairness” of having to work to make their lives and relationships better.

As Dr Stosny says, being happy does indeed take work – this is not “unfair”, it’s a fact of life.  In fact, our level of happiness or unhappiness is generally directly related to a) how happy we decide to be and b) how much work we put in to creating and experiencing happiness in our life.  It is nothing to do with “luck” or “fairness”, we are not “entitled” to happiness and damn that bastard old world if it doesn’t provide it to us on a silver platter!  It is a choice and it takes work and conscious decision. 

The second idea within this article that I LOVE and that I think so many people fail to recognise or fully comprehend is this:

The most potent predictor of being happily married is being happy before you marry. Marriage does not make you happy, although the prospect of sharing life with a loved one can provide motivation to make yourself happy.

Of course, this doesn’t just have to be about the institution of marriage – it is about our relationships with people in general.  As Dr Stosny says, we run around believing we have ‘holes’ within us and desperately seeking someone else to fill them, when in fact all we need to do is realise that they aren’t even there to begin with.  We believe there are defects within us, holes that need filling, whereas actually we are all whole and complete as we are.  We don’t need fixing or something external to fill us.  Everything we need we already have within us. 

We think we want someone else to love and validate us, whereas actually, if we can’t accept love and validation from ourselves, what makes us think we are going to be able to accept it from anyone else?  And then we just end up getting frustrated with the other person because we *still* don’t feel loved and validated, as if that is the other person’s fault!!  When, actually, it is just that we cannot accept from someone else what we have no ability already to believe about ourselves.

So often, in modern society, this leads to us feeling dissatisfied with our partner for not inducing within us all the feelings of adequacy we are unable to give ourselves.  And so we assume our partner is not good enough, not loving enough, not ‘right’ for us, and we discard that person and look for someone else – the ‘one’, the Mr or Mrs Right who is going to finally make us feel worthy, fulfilled and lovable.  And so we go through this string of relationships, wondering why we can’t just find a decent partner who will incite all these cosy feelings within us.

It is a simple, often repeated idea but one that far too few people are able to really take in the truth of: If you can’t love yourself, you will never be able to accept love from someone else.  I have brown hair.  I believe strongly that I have brown hair.  If I started going out with a guy who told me every day that I have blonde hair, I wouldn’t start to feel happy and excited about my gorgeous blonde hair.  I would think he was talking a load of bollocks and go right on believing I have brown hair. 

It’s the same with love and feelings of worthiness etc.  If I have a deep, underlying belief that I am unlovable and unworthy of love, even if one hundred people appeared on my doorstep telling me they loved me and I was an amazing, lovable person, I would go right on believing that I was unlovable until I was able to shift my own inner belief about my lovability.  Hell, you just need to look at celebrities for evidence of that.  Being adored by millions doesn’t seem to make many of them any better able to treat themselves with love and respect.

So the moral is: don’t expect anyone else – family, friends, lovers – to fill the holes you perceive in yourself, or to make you feel things about yourself that you can’t feel in their absence.  You only, and you alone, can come to the understanding that there are no holes there to begin with.  Until you understand that, you will forever be searching for the way – or the person – to fill them.


March 6, 2009

He’s Just Not That Into You – and you are NOT the exception!

hesjustnotthatintoyou2He’s Just Not That Into You has to be one of the first self-help books to be turned into a fictionalised Hollywood movie. It is based on the book of the same name – which to be honest, I haven’t actually read. Let’s bear in mind that it was written by former Sex In The City writers, one of whom is a comedian. Yes. As the man said himself in an interview I read recently, if you’re taking relationship advice from a comedian, it kind of says something about the state of your relationships.

Where do I even start with this movie? Initially, it seemed to be making some very valid points. Especially for someone like me who saw so much of herself in the bumbling, eager and self-doubting Gigi – a sweet girl who’s just looking for love and just doesn’t quite know the rules of these things. I’m pretty sure I’m not quite as cringe-worthy or as silly as Gigi but to be honest, I see far more of myself in her than I should really admit. How many girls didn’t quietly identify with a girl who, when told she shouldn’t go out with guys who aren’t that into her, wonders innocently “But then who will go out with me?”

So at first the message hit home – look at how pathetic you are, the movie cried! Can’t you see how obvious it is, dummy? If he doesn’t call, if he doesn’t text, if he treats you like crap, if he won’t marry you – he’s just not that into you! Don’t listen to all the people who have stories about friends of friends who ended up being the exception to the rule. You are not the exception, you are never the exception, don’t sit around waiting to be the exception. You are the rule!

This was up until about the last 10 minutes of the movie. And then, true to Hollywood and yet completely going against the entire message and premise of the whole movie, the final 10 minutes proceeded to undo everything the whole movie had been putting across. Suddenly the rules went out the window and all the girls were the exception. Suddenly the jerk really did care, the commitment-phobe really did want to get married – suddenly it seemed that maybe, just maybe, if you wait around for him just long enough – maybe you really will finally be the exception, maybe he really is into you after all and just didn’t know it. They actually took the whole ‘just get over it, be strong and move on’ message and totally turned it around, and in doing so perpetuated just exactly what the book and the first part of the movie was trying to make you let go of.

If the people sitting behind me in the movie weren’t sure of what I thought of this movie from my splutterings up til this point, I’m pretty sure they had a fairly good idea when a wedding festooned yacht exploded victoriously on screen and I couldn’t quite hold back the exclaimation of ‘Oh come ON!’ that burst forth in disgust.

The other bone I have to pick with this movie is the way it portrays women as pathetic, grasping beings just desperately groping after a man. The man, of course, being the one in control, who can grant or withdraw his attention at his cold-hearted whim. The basic message I got was: just accept that men are jerks and stop sitting around expecting them to act in any way like decent human beings.

I went to this movie as a fun ‘girl’s night’ with my female friends. We all came out of it feeling utterly defeated and drowned our incredible despair in glasses of wine, sitting around in stunned silence, occasionally muttering ‘man, I feel so depressed!’. I came out feeling so incredibly glad to be single and felt like I never ever wanted to go near another man ever again. This was about the time I started contemplating the advantages of life as a crazy old cat lady. I actually felt kind of disgusted at the thought of the whole male gender and didn’t want any of those bastards anywhere near me.

Well, when I say we all felt like this – I should say, all of us who were single. The one of us who was newly in a couple admitted to tearing up a little at the yacht scene. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Do I sound bitter?

The worst part of it is that it wasn’t even funny. It was really more cringe-worthy than funny at any point. It was long, not funny, internally contradictory… I’m struggling to find any redeeming feature at all. Even the hot guy somehow lost so much hotness by being a complete asshole.

I would really love to hear a male perspective on this film. Are all guys really like this? Is there any hope?

Perhaps I better start adding cat food to my shopping list…

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