Some people make us feel great about ourselves when we’re around them. Sadly this is not true of everybody in our lives – others make us feel like we’re wasting our lives, are wrong or off or unappealing in some important way, or just rub us up the wrong way.
Such is the nature of life on this planet. Not everybody is going to be a fan or a friend.
And you know what I’ve learned about that? It’s not only perfectly okay, it’s exactly how the system was designed. It’s to be expected.
And being clear about who makes us happier when we’re around them, and who definitely does not, is one of the ways we can increase our happiness quotient.
We don’t always get a full choice in this — bosses and family spring to mind — but we possibly have more choice than many of us allow ourselves to exercise.
Here’s a two-step approach I have discovered works a charm for spending more time in the happy zone, when it comes to my interactions with other people.
First recognise how certain people impact you, and be honest about that. Nothing can change unless you first have a clear understanding of what’s going on for you.
This is not to say you judge others – you are simply recognising and acknowledging that some people impact you negatively and others impact you positively. We know this is part of the design and is to be expected.
I find it useful to think of my emotional and psychological systems in a similar way to how I think about and experience my biological systems.
From an emotional and psychological perspective, being around some people upsets my emotional and psychological systems. I think of it like this: some people are like some foods – they irritate. Some people can’t eat strawberries, or dairy products, or nuts – they are either allergic or their systems are simply upset by consuming those types of foods.
This is not to say strawberries, nuts or dairy products are inherently wrong. They aren’t. For many people, those foods are delightful and delicious. Personally, I love strawberries but perhaps that is not the case for you. You aren’t saying strawberries are wrong – you’re just saying they upset you when you eat them.
And so it is with some people. They aren’t wrong or bad – they just upset your system when you’re around them too much.
Armed with the excellent and clear information on how certain people impact you, you take action. Specifically, you limit your exposure to people who impact you negatively.
If eating nuts makes you vulnerable to a life‑threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), then it’s wise to know that, and to take conscious and considered action to avoid consuming nuts.
If being around certain people makes you vulnerable to a happiness-threatening psychological state (feeling guilty, annoyed, wrong in some way), it’s wise to know that and to take action to avoid being around that person or those people, or to limit your exposure to them as much as practically possible.
Do it with love
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do, for yourself and for those you share your world with, is to be conscious and considered in the time you spend with others.