Many negative emotions are the result of confusion concerning “who is responsible for whose reality”. If we believe that others are responsible for our reality and how we feel, and they do not “create” our reality as we want it to be or do not give us what we want, we feel hurt, bitter, disillusioned, powerless, fearful, resentful, angry, and even hateful.
When we believe that we are responsible for their reality, and we are not able to make them happy, healthy, successful or satisfied, we feel failure, self-rejection, shame, and guilt. We might even feel anger toward them when they do not cooperate with us to create the reality we believe they must have in order to feel that we are successful and thus worthy as parents, teachers, saviours, healers, etc.
Both beliefs create codependence, resulting in conflicts in our relationships, while simultaneously preventing both parties from maturing emotionally.
Following is a list of beliefs that create such situations.
1. I am responsible for the others’ reality; for their safety, happiness, health, success, satisfaction, etc. This leads us to believe we are holding the keys to the others’ safety, happiness, health, success, and satisfaction. We then believe we are failures if the others are not well. We also become angry with them when they do not cooperate in creating their own well-being, which we need in order to feel worthy.
2. Others are incapable, unable, and lacking inner guidance or the capacity for managing their lives properly. They need me. We then believe we hold the keys to their safety, happiness, satisfaction, success, etc. We believe they cannot be okay or proceed in life without our guidance and effort. We undermine their self-confidence and self-worth, and wear ourselves down doing for others much of what they can do for themselves. We obstruct their growth and strength.
3. If the others are not well, happy, successful, satisfied, etc., then I am a failure. I am holding the keys to their happiness, success, etc. They, in turn, hold the keys to my self-worth. In such cases, we get trapped in a vicious circle with the others, seeking to pressure them to live their lives in a way that we believe will make them happy and well. We do this, however, not only out of love, but also out of our need to affirm our self-worth.
4. If the others are not well or satisfied, etc., I am not worthy. I give the keys to my self-worth to the others because I am “responsible for” (holding the keys to) their well-being or satisfaction. I feel worthy only when they are well or satisfied.
5. If the other is not well or happy, I do not have the right to be well or happy. I give the keys to my happiness and well-being to the other. I feel I have the right to be happy or well only if he or she is. This does not help the other, but instead adds to the negativity in the environment. I remember a man once who expressed the need to be not well and to express it without his wife going to pieces.
6. If I love someone who is suffering, unhappy or not well, I should not be able to be happy or well. We give him or her the keys to our happiness and well-being. We can help others much more effectively by being positive rather than negative when they are not well.
7. My self-worth depends on what others think of me and on how satisfied they are with me. We give others the keys to our self-worth. We then lose our sense of who we are, what we believe and what we want to do with our lives. We waste our lives seeking to be who we believe others want us to be. In the end, we lose our happiness and are usually bitter that after all that self-suppression, we are still not getting from others the love and respect we desire.
8. My self worth is dependent on how successful my efforts are toward health, happiness, material comfort, social acceptance, professional success, etc. We give the keys to our self-worth to people, possessions and situations around us. This describes our state as a society in which each has lost the keys to his or her own happiness and is seeking to find it in “success”. Happiness and success are often (not always) on the other side of the seesaw.
Having understood the above, the next step is to determine where exactly we are expecting others to create our happiness, success, and satisfaction, or where we are dependent on others for our feelings of self-worth. In other words, we need to recognise which of our keys we have given to whom.
Then we need to discover for which people we feel responsible, and thus are holding onto the keys to their happiness, success, safety or satisfaction.
This we want to do in order to return the keys that do not belong to us and take back the keys that do.