Recently, my partner decided to spend a good part of the day out of the house, involved in hobbies he really loves. Outwardly, I appeared to understand.
But inwardly, I didn’t. I was swept into my old story of “he doesn’t care about me.” Because if he did, he wouldn’t have decided to spend part of the day out of the house.
You see, for a long time, I expected my partner to make me feel cared for. It sounded perfectly reasonable to my mind.
It sounded like:
When I’m feeling bad, he should know me well enough to say just the right thing.
When I’m overwhelmed, he should know how to step in and lighten my load.
When I’m withdrawn or deep in thought, he should be able to read my mind.
Because that’s what partners do. They complete each other. They’re supposed to just know. (Right?)
So when he decided to go about doing the things he wanted to do, I started quietly judging his decisions, to myself.
As a result, I not only wasn’t getting what I wanted (some time together), but I also was judging someone I care about.
It was a stressful situation that was entirely self-created.
I had painted a scene where I was being deserted, giving me reason to wallow in self-pity. Through that lens, I could not see the truth of the situation: that my partner’s decision had nothing to do with how he feels about me.
The deeper truth of the situation was this: How I felt when he left wasn’t really about my partner in the least. It was about me, and my need to give MYSELF some love and attention. I was so focused on how he was “neglecting” me that I didn’t notice how I was neglecting myself.
When you need some love and attention, it’s your job to find ways to give that to yourself.
Byron Katie says it well: “As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.”
When we self-create expectations for how another person should think, act, and feel, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Because it is not another person’s job to make us feel a certain way.
We become full of judgment, and the judgments becomes a prescription for how to live. In these moments, we get to examine that set of expectations.
What is the rule we have quietly created for how people should act, feel, and think?
We don’t get to write the prescription for how others should live.
We only get to write our own, and explore what it is that we need to give to ourselves.
Everything we do comes from love or fear. We get to choose which one to live by.
The mind’s natural tendency is to look toward fear. But love brings you closer to those you care about.
Love creates connection, first from within, then to others.
And when I choose to connect to myself, I’m doing my job. (Since our thoughts create our feelings, managing our thoughts is our most important job.)
My life doesn’t feel better because of my partner being home, or away. It always comes down to what I decide to believe about my life situation, our relationship, and beyond.
It’s always a choice.
So, what about you? What’s your choice today? Will you stay in the old victim mentality – so-and-so doesn’t care about me – or will you choose to care about yourself?
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