How to take responsibility for your own happiness

It was the great psychologist Carl Jung that said, “He who looks outside, dreams. He who looks inside, awakens.” We can appreciate these sentiments when we see them posted on a billboard or on Pinterest, but are we truly living this philosophy?

Most of us, if we are being honest with our Selves, simply aren’t. In a previous article we talked about emotional dependency, and life coach Shelly Isfeld stated that the foundation of curing us of neediness and emotional dependency is precisely what Carl Jung said. The true state of happiness can only be found from within, not from the external things in life that one is dreaming about. We know this on paper, but we still dream for a path to that pursuit of happiness. “If I just had this job, if I just had this apartment, if I just had this lover, if I just had this car…. I would be happy.” One who uses these variables as measures, isn’t as close to happiness.

When we place our happiness on external factors, we are going to spend the rest of our lives seeking to scratch an itch that will never stop itching. When we find this happiness in our Selves, emotional dependency becomes a thing of the past, and happiness is not so elusive after all. There’s nothing wrong with discovering some personal issues with emotional dependency or neediness. Not taking care of it is the problem, as it can become a cancer that can kill one sense of Self.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and best selling author of ‘Do I Have to Give Up ME to Be Loved by YOU?’ sees emotional dependency every day and says that it is based on fear. When we are dependent on another person, we fear abandonment by them. When we are dependent on material things, we fear rejection from society for not being considered a person with value and worth. The first key in correcting neediness and emotional dependency then is letting those fears go.

Does it really matter if one person, or even several people within your society do not see you as a person of worth? If you are looking inside such as Carl Jung suggests, if you believe you are a person of value, then the answer is no. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because you will already be “awakened” to the things in life that truly matter, and a new car isn’t one of them. When it comes to correcting emotional dependency, you are the key to your wellness.

Where to start

“First you need to recognize who is responsible for your own well being,” says Shelly Isfeld. “It has everything to do with emotional responsibility. It’s not always easy due to human nature, but it does help to be aware of who we are as a whole. Being well versed or book smart is one thing, but you need to really be in tune with you first.”

If emotional responsibility is the key to overcoming emotional dependency, how do we become emotionally responsible? Shelly Isfeld says it’s about owning who you are. Owning your own emotions without putting that responsibility on someone else. “Don’t own other’s garbage,” she adds. She encourages to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

True confidence comes from respecting your Self first, as Shelly says, “Look at who you are, your core values, why you have them. OWN IT.”

When you can do that, you become emotionally responsible, and most importantly, fearless. Without fear, you no longer worry about abandonment and rejection by society, because you’ve already accepted your Self. Without fear, you release your Self from the prison of emotional dependency.

Does that mean we need to drop our love for shopping, relationship, a great new car, or even a trip or two to the casino on occasion? Absolutely not. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing the things in life that you enjoy. It’s when those things define your sense of Self that you run into problems with happiness. These things come and go. Your Self on the other hand, you have it for your whole life.

Originally published December 2012. Updated June 2016.

How to take responsibility for your own happiness

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