“Betrayal of yourself in order not to betray another is Betrayal nonetheless. It is the Highest Betrayal.”–Conversations with God, book 2, p97
It’s funny how simple this happiness stuff turns out to be. Simple, yet not easy. In summary, this is what I have learned:
We all have the ability to focus. What we focus on expands. If you are focused on thoughts that feel good, then those thoughts will attract more thoughts, situations, and people that feel good for you. If you can keep your focus on good-feeling thoughts, then your life will continue to expand in pleasing ways.
Yes, it really is that simple.
It turns out that if you can keep that focus turned towards thoughts that satisfy you, you’ve got it made!
If this is so simple to describe, why can this seem so hard?
As I understand it, the problem seems to be that so many of us have learned all these unsatisfying patterns of thought. We see everyone around us indulging in them as well, and so we learn that this is “how things are.” Yet that is just the beginning of the confusion. We are loving beings who don’t wish to hurt other people’s feelings, even if they are extraordinary sourpusses who suck the joy out of anything and everything. It can be hard for us to change ourselves (!), for fear that growing our own happiness might somehow hurt or betray them.
At least, that is how it was for me. It was as if I imagined that liberating myself from thoughts that didn’t serve me was some sort of betrayal of those I loved.
Have you ever experienced this? If so, then you know how confusing this can be! Sorting this out has led me to realize the following Universal Truths (yes, these words deserved to be capitalized!):
- Being a loving person DOES NOT require you to be like other people.
- Being a loving person DOES NOT mean you have to agree with other people’s actions, thoughts, or beliefs.
- You can love someone else AND make completely different choices than they do.
- You can be a happy person EVEN IF other people in your life are not.
- In fact, your being unhappy DOES NOT show loyalty or love for others.
- Being selfish enough to feel good ALWAYS serves others, whether they realize it or not. Even if they get upset about it! (Besides: that is their own choice to be upset about it)
- Other people’s misery is their own business. You don’t have to join them in it.
I began to really get clear about this stuff only a few months ago. My confusion on these matters had led to a lot of guilt about my own happiness. It was as if I thought that being happy would somehow threaten others.
The truth is, sometimes happiness can threaten others. Some people are so disconnected from their own happiness that they may not like seeing other people be happy. It just reminds them how unhappy they are. Yet this should not deter you from being happy. The people who are unhappy are likely going to continue being unhappy with or without you.
So why not liberate yourself from a false sense of loyalty?
I think that for a lot of us, we see other people doing things that we feel uncomfortable about, but following our own instincts seems in conflict with the need to please others. This is where the trouble usually starts. When we betray ourselves in order not to betray someone else (or so we think), we will usually pay the price of our own self-respect and happiness.
Is it worth it? If you have made this mistake many times, as I have, you probably agree that the answer is “No.” And yet, are not we loving people? We do not wish to displease other people or cause them pain. We don’t want to betray ourselves, yet we do not want them feeling bad.
What is the correct way to go?
What I keep learning (over and over, it seems) is that I am not here to please others. Sure, I will often do it. But given the choice of pleasing myself, or betraying myself in order to please another, my choice is clear!
Besides, anybody who is trying to get you to betray yourself just to please them is sort of messed up, don’t you think?
To think own Self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be falst to any man.–Shakespeare