The holidays tend to bring out the best and worst in people, and either exacerbate or enhance the feelings we have towards family and friends. When confronted with obligatory get togethers, we are often forced into situations that cause us to reflect on our relationships. It seems there is always crazy Aunt Trudy or boisterous Uncle George who hug us a little too long or pick at us with backhanded compliments. It’s also a time when the angst over a damaged relationship seems more intense.
I’ve spent a lot of time wishing that my relationships with particular family members or friends were better or different. It’s been easy to blame the other party for the troubled relationship or to impose excessive guilt upon myself self for the discord, but both the blame and the guilt have been wasted energy.
Deepak Chopra (2010) counsels:
“If you wait for another person to change things, or themselves, you may wait forever. You must arrive at self-sufficiency, which is the realization that you are enough. You never need another person to complete you. Once this truly sinks in, you will stop asking others to change in order for you to feel better. It’s not their responsibility; it doesn’t show how much they care; and no matter how hard they try, you might wind up feeling bad anyway” (p. 146).
Thus, it’s up to us to let go of the wish that others will change for us or that we must somehow change ourselves in order to be accepted. We must stop expecting an apology that may never come so that we can feel better. It is not the offender’s responsibility to make us feel better. It’s our job to believe, accept, and know that we are enough without that other person to complete us. Chopra is on point when he reminds us that no matter how hard the offender tries to make it up to us, at some point they will likely let us down again and we’ll just feel bad, again – unless we are taking accountability for the relationship.
Rather than wait for another person to take action to mend the relationship, we must either act ourselves or we must simply accept the relationship as it is. This does not mean that we need to surround ourselves with individuals who let us down or make us feel bad about ourselves. It does mean we must acknowledge that you and I, alone, are responsible for our feelings surrounding those who have offended or hurt us. We do not need these relationships to be complete. It is enough for us to know we love them and always will. Of course, we can hope for a healing of broken or damaged relationships but we must stop wishing others will change, and instead accept the limitations of these associations.
Let’s make it a goal this year to be responsible for each relationship we enjoy and give up expecting other people to complete us. Instead, let’s realize we are enough with or without certain people and stop asking them to change in order for us to feel better. The responsibility lies solely upon us.
Chopra, D. (2010). The soul of leadership: unlocking your potential for greatness. New York, NY: Harmony Books.