One of the conversations that my brother and I had on the trip to Florida had to do with my sons, Tom and Matt. He asked me if they’d always gotten along so well, and I laughed. I can remember when they were kids, thinking that they would never stop fighting. As they grew and matured, I could see them begin to appreciate each other, and now as adult men, they are as close as I’ve ever seen two humans.
This wasn’t something that I encouraged though. I knew that if a true and meaningful relationship was ever going to develop, they would have to want it for themselves, not do it to make me happy. I made a decision to get out of the middle of their lives.
As a kid, my siblings and I fought constantly as well, and I could see that this caused my mother a fair amount of unhappiness. She would often say, “I just want you kids to get along”. Even well into her 80’s, one of her pleas was to see all of her children as close, best friends and happy together. Although this sounded like a noble cause, it was focused on her life, her happiness. The idea was that we should try to get along, because if we were one big happy family, she could rest more easily and be happy.
If I tell anyone that they must behave a certain way, love certain people, go to certain events (that I think are important) then I have left them almost totally out of the equation. I don’t even get the chance to really know these people and their unique loves and desires.
We can never make another person happy…not for long anyway. Happiness is an inside job. And we do a disservice to others when we try to meet their demands (that feel wrong to us) in the hopes that we will make them happy. Going against our own internal guidance can never be right, even if makes someone happy in that moment, it is at best a band-aid…one that we will have to keep applying.
Be true to yourself. Love who and what you love. Allow those around you to do the same….that is true Love.
“Ultimately you don’t have any control over your children. You don’t have any control over anything. When you think you should and you see that you don’t, the effect is depression. Whose business are my children? Their business! When we’re mentally out of our children’s business, we have a shot at happiness, and so do they, because finally there’s an example in the house.” Byron Katie from Question Your Thinking, Change the World.