Emotional Self-Sufficiency: Fact or Fiction?
Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project recently asked her facebook discussion group their opinion on whether a house is only as happy as the least happy person in it. What do you think?
The topic of self-sufficiency, emotional or otherwise, is one I come across on a daily basis. Not only in my personal life, but also in my profession as a coach. I have thought for a long time that people do the best they can in any given situation, and that they possess all the necessary tools and resources to reach whatever goal they set for themselves. One of those resources is the ability to ask for support. As much as there is to be said for finding one's own way, it's not written anywhere that you have to do it alone!
Now, what if you're in a relationship with someone and your moods are at odds? You better get used to it, because no two people are always in sync. Still, some people seem better in tune than others, so how do they do it?
According to Ms Rubin's commentators, it appears to be a more female phenomenon to feel responsible for and be influenced by prevalent moods in the house. Some of her male readers did comment on the fact that both positive and negative moods are infectious. Sounds like a rollercoaster ride when you have to take care of your own feelings and moods while at the same time be helplessly at the mercy of someone else's every whim.
How does feeling responsible for other people's moods help to lift everbody's well-being? Some people are more receptive for their environment, others appear designed to transmit. I can't help but wonder about the energy reserves of that person who takes it upon him- or herself to lift everybody else up. The success of their missions cannot always be guaranteed, either.
A helpful distinction was made according to the cause of the significant other's chagrin. Their being mad or sad because of something that's in your power to change seems to have more weight on your own happiness than something that is "not your fault."
Are bad moods and negative feelings really to be avoided at all cost? When children and teaching opportunities are involved it may be another story. When it comes to adults, many welcome the opportunity to live their emotional lives unencumbered. Some might react with more aggression or aversion to attempts of cheering-up, when all they want is to be grumpy for an hour.
What do you do when you find yourself on such a rollercoaster and would like to sit the next ride out? Do you isolate yourself physically from your environment to thwart any emotional contamination? Are you aware of which feelings are your own and which are transfers from your partner or family? Can you communicate the strength of your own position saying that their troubles do not affect you?
Different people and different situations warrant different strategies. Ms Rubin's group seemed to agree that we are all to some extent influenced by our environment. The closer the relationship, the more involved we become. If you would like to find out more about how you can expand your personal toolkit, I suggest reading up on Emotional Intelligence and investing in a few coaching sessions to raise awareness about your personal preferences, how your own environment influences you, and which alternatives you have in preparing for situations that usually affect you negatively.
Til next time, have a balanced one!
Image by Nagesh Kamath, flickr, Creative Commons License