A few years ago, I was leaving my parents’ house to fly back to Washington state, where I was living with my husband at the time. My little sister, who was only 9 years old then, was in tears. I kept saying to her, “Don’t be sad! Please don’t be sad.” It didn’t help, of course. She continued crying, and my heart continued breaking. My mom told me that we needed to let her be sad. I had no idea what she meant. Why in the world would I ever let her be sad?
We all want the people we love to be happy. Sometimes we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make them feel better. Sometimes we feel downright desperate to put a smile on their faces, and that makes us do crazy things like beg them to stop crying, or change ourselves to suit someone’s preferences, or even have a child to make someone else happy.
That’s right—if you’ve ever contemplated having a child in order to make someone else happy, you’re not alone. Many women I’ve coached and talked with have been there. I’ve been there too. In fact, I used to think that’d be the only reason I’d ever have for wanting to have a baby.
The Truth About Making Others Happy
So why do we do that? We’re smart women, for crying out loud. On some level, even as we convince ourselves that our attempts to make others feel better are noble, we must know that the best thing we can do for someone else is to let them feel their feelings. To let them experience this moment of life as they are. To stop trying to control and “correct” everything.
But there’s something that holds us back from doing that. And in my experience, that something is usually the feeling of guilt or sadness, or rather the fear of feeling guilt or sadness or something like it. We want the other person to feel happy, yes, but we also don’t want to feel badly ourselves. So we delude ourselves into thinking that the only way we can feel better is to make the other person feel better.
That’s why I’m here to remind you that other people—with all their feelings, and opinions, and desires—don’t make us feel like crap. What makes us feel like crap is how we think about ourselves, our lives and other people.
So if you’re telling yourself that it’s your job to “fix” someone or give someone what he or she wants, then take a step back and ask yourself:
What’s my real reason for wanting to change this situation?
And if you want some help working through this stuff—if you want an actionable tool you’ve never tried before, that’s specific to your situation—schedule your free mini coaching session below. I can’t wait to talk with you!
Related: How to Stop Feeling Guilty