Do you believe that others will change in ways that will make you feel better?
Do you hold out hope, even when the other person’s behavior isn’t fundamentally different? Perhaps you look for the tiniest shred of evidence that something has changed, and then hang onto that for days, weeks, months, or even years?
Most of us do this in one way or another. Often the reality is just too painful to experience, so our ego continues to tell us there is ‘hope’ just to avoid the feelings of how things really are.
The feelings that we don’t want to feel did not start in the current situation we are facing. If I am hoping my spouse, child, or boss will change, I learned that hope in my younger years. As children, many of us had adverse experiences with our caregivers or siblings that were very painful. Instead of being able to see things as they were and feel the feelings that went with them, our ego helped us come up with new beliefs to explain the situation. The new belief was usually tied to us – not them.
I held out hope that if I was lovable enough, they would give me the attention and love that I craved.
When I was a child I felt a great deal of pain when my father moved out, married another woman, and started another family. Instead of seeing my father for who he was, an unhappy man that wanted to be ‘important’, I made it about me. The belief that I adopted was that if I had been more loveable, he would have stayed. As I got older, I found myself in relationships with men who tended to abandon me emotionally. I held out hope that if I was lovable enough, they would give me the attention and love that I craved. I would be happy with ‘crumbs’ of attention that I got once in a while. I would stay in a relationship WAY too long, hoping that the other person would change, and when they didn’t, I blamed myself instead of them. When I finally got to the bottom of this belief, I had to allow myself to feel the anger and disappointment that I had felt towards my father for putting his need to be important above my wellbeing as a young child. Once I allowed myself to recognize, feel, and express these old feelings responsibly, I stopped attracting men who were emotionally unavailable. Instead of waiting for others to change in the hope that I will feel better, I take care of myself by asking for what I want and saying no to what I don’t want.
What hopes are you willing to finally give up today?