Last September, I attended a work conference in Louisville, KY. And while the conference was not at all about finding your own happiness, for some reason, when I looked at the schedule, I noticed that’s what the final speaker would be talking about.
Now, when I initially saw this, I balked at it. “What does this have to do with what we are here for,” I thought. And then, “great — just what I want to hear… some more pseudo-psych talk about loving yourself for an hour and a half.”
Quick side note — I’m not sure why I was so angry about this, but there I was, really upset that they would slide this into the schedule. Probably says something about where I was in life, but that’s for another blog post.
Anyway, I was initially quite reluctant to take anything away from this speaker. But as she talked and gave some pretty amazing examples and stories, I grew more and more interested in what she was saying. And what she was saying was that we are basically a bunch of hurt people going around either hurting others or pretending like we’re not.
That’s not exactly something I’d never heard before. I mean, I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” But I think what struck me was that she took the ambiguity out of it by not allowing anyone to point fingers and pretend like they were not included in that statement. That meant when you talked about hurt people, it wasn’t your cousin, your best friend, your sister/brother, or the last guy who rejected you. It meant you.
YOU are a hurt person. And YOU are out here hurting others.
That was a lot for me to take in, because I generally consider myself a giver in all of my relationships, and I tend to take on the characteristics of being a giver (the good and the bad). So to acknowledge that yes, me – the giver, was hurting other people… it was a lot.
But it was true. And it was true because, as she said, I hadn’t taken the time to forgive myself and others for things they’d (I’d) done to me in the past. And without that forgiveness, I could be happy, but not reaaaaally happy. Or as the old church folks say, I could be happy but not have joy.
So what did the speaker suggest? Well, honestly, a bunch of pseudo-psych stuff like I initially thought, but some of it was actually kind of good. Like, singing love songs to yourself ¹ and finding the things that de-stress you that don’t make you dependent on anything or anyone (yes, this includes things like wine, drugs, and sex).
But the most important thing I thought she said was that in order to really be happy, you had to be selfish sometimes. You had to take time to yourself. Take energy to yourself. Spend time loving you and replenishing in you, and you’d find that your happiness will become less and less dependent on others.
Again, that was nothing ground-breaking. But it was affirming of several messages I’d been getting all year.
That to truly be happy, I had to focus on me sometimes. And then, and only then, could I walk around and provide happiness to others. Then, and only then, could I stop being a hurt person that hurts people.
What do you all think? And have you come to any recent revelations about what brings you happiness in your life?
1 As crazy as this idea sounds on the surface, it’s actually quite fun! Take your favorite love song and sing it to yourself all day long for just one day. I guarantee you’ll be in a pretty damn good mood by the end of the day.