- Hook up with joy stealers.
- Disrespect yourself enough to allow others to do the same.
- Refuse help, therapy, consulting or coaching.
- Avoid self-help groups, books and workshops. If you do use any of these helpful modalities, do not follow up on the information and advice available. They can’t mean you.
- Convince yourself it will never be different. You cannot possibly change. Besides, the problem is not you, it’s the other people.
- Keep eyes looking down, not forward or up. (This allows you to continue to devalue yourself.)
- Remain a victim of your past. Refuse to: Feel, Deal, and Heal.
- Get help in the form of therapy, coaching, self-help or recovery groups and books, workshops or anything else that could help you grow and change. Even if you are convinced it is the OTHERS who are the problem, they are in YOUR life!
- Stick with people who are positive, supportive and encouraging.
- Watch how happy, kind, respectful people function.
- Value yourself enough to walk away from destructive people.
- If you want or need to keep a specific joy-stealer in your life (spouse, parent, coworker?), try saying something like, “We can talk when you are willing to be respectful.” Then walk away.
- Detach from the negative person or persons, at least emotionally if not logistically and physically.
- Pretend you are a healthy, serving and deserving person. Give and receive only the positive. Fake it – til you make it.
In the last article in this series we talked about those Joy-Stealers who add their own little twist to the happiness of others all year long, not just at this potentially joy-filled time of year. If there is one of these in your life, what is your part? Why not boot them out, either emotionally or physically? We see what is wrong with them: negativity, perfectionism, unrealistic expectations and the need to discount you with twisted, backhanded comments. But…what is wrong with YOU for allowing them into your life?
If you are in a relationship that is not supportive, it is undoubtedly because it is familiar and reminds you of one from your childhood. How is your current negative relationship (might be spouse, but could be friend, coworker, sibling or other relative) similar to an old one? Think hard about the similarities, usually in how you feel when you are around this individual. Is your tall, red-headed, educated, Irish Catholic spouse at all like your short, dark, high-school dropout Jewish parent? Could be the same person, different package. My point is that we human beings attract people unconsciously because that is what is imbedded from an early age. Not until we have begun to recover from our pasts, do we develop the capacity to intentionally choose who we want to be and who we allow into our lives. Those who were emotionally abused as children, even by well-meaning parents, have a joy-deprived history. Maybe your parents didn’t compliment your grades or athletic or artistic performance because they thought it was best for you to try harder instead of being proud of what you could do. (Not mutually exclusive). They thought pushing you to do more was helping you and in their confusion they withheld love. Maybe they were emotionally (obsessive-compulsive, alcoholic or just cold) or physically (sick, workaholic) absent. The unintended consequence was a communication that you were not good enough. As an adult, you still doubt your worth, so you allow others to slam you with that same message.
There are other types of people: kind, encouraging, complimentary, satisfied with themselves, therefore with you…and so on. Again, I urge regrouping and looking at life…your own…no matter what your age or profession. Pull back, look at your choices, look at yourself, and decide where you are going. It’s never too late to have a happy future, but you may have to work for it.
Caution: if you are in early recovery from alcoholism or anything else, WAIT. There will be time after the initial changes of clearing the fog from years of mind-altering. Early recovery is not a good time to make major logistical changes such as divorce, marriage, moving, changing jobs…unless you cannot stay clean and sober until you do make some of those changes.
My prayer for you is that you have a Joy Filled Life, starting NOW!