A while back when I asked my 5-year-old grandchild why he liked to put so much cinnamon on his oatmeal, he replied, “It’s the way I roll, grandma.” We often find young children comfortable with being who they are and it is only as they age that they start changing their own personality to conform into the thinking or the lifestyle of others. We are all born with a creative side to us and those that are encouraged to express that side often times will be the great artists amongst us. So often many of us do grow up to put more emphasis on becoming the person that we think others want us to become instead of remaining the person that we are meant to be.
It is when we lose sight of what makes us strong as a human and the talents that we possess that we often fall into the trap that others set for us. “Misery loves company” proves itself out long before we reach the knowledge of what effect that misery does have on our own persona. The more negative the people are that we hang with the more likely we will become just as negative. The only way most of us can go back to enjoying life again, as we did when we did have the courage to believe in ourselves, is to detach ourselves from those that do want to make misery their companion.
Although I noticed early on in life that when children start acting out it is usually as a result of wanting to be the center of attention, it took me much longer to recognize that people who are miserable actually get off on misery. In some ways when children are feeling neglected or are confused as to where they fit into the family, they will act out and start talking back. Often times the eldest child will become the confidant of the adults and no longer know if he or she is now an adult or a child. Too often we parents will share adult problems with children that should still be involved with play. Many times when a child does act out they will find that, “the squeaky wheel gets the most attention” and as long as they are getting attention they do not much care if it is positive or negative as long as the parents are focusing on them.
This is the same principle that adults use when it comes to constant complaints. The person capable of taking care of their own needs and does not borrow from our time or attention often times goes ignored and gets set to the side. I asked my cousin who taught Psychology at the University and had years into private practice if he thought there were people who did use misery in order to be happy or at peace.
At the time I was worn down by two people in my life that I foolishly thought at one time I might be able to help, but was realizing that they were draining me of my energy with their hard luck stories and it was taking a toll on my own health. My cousin, the Doctor, was quick to answer, “Oh sure there are people who are happy being miserable” When I recognize them I always refer them out to another psychologist that will take the time to listen to them as that is all they really want, is to be heard and the focal point.” He then added that he got into Psychiatry in order to help people understand or change their lives in order to live a more satisfactory life and so often people who enjoy being miserable are already getting what they want, and do not want help to change, so he referred them to Dr.s more interested in gaining revenue.(Please note: people with severe mental illness who are incapable of understanding reality or living it do not fit this pattern)
I found, that if I refused to answer the phone as I was busy, that the two people in my life at the time, would deliberately call and call and wait until I finally would give in and answer the phone and would then hang up on me. It gave them the sick idea that if I would no longer listen to their constant complaints nor allow them to manipulate me, then they would show me what it felt like by hanging up on me. Never mind the fact that I could care less as I wasn’t in the habit of complaining to them nor was I asking anything of them anyway. I do have to admit that the constant calling was irritating at the time.
By their own immature actions it actually relieved me of all guilt or need to feel responsible to either of them again. Prior to this I would even save and sacrifice my own financial lifestyle in order to pay their expenses or take them somewhere to try to lighten their moods. I was being manipulated to the point that I was losing touch of my own priorities and doing for one of the families what I needed to be doing for my own.
Once I realized that misery was the level that they all drew to, to try to out miserable each other with who had life worse or to gain sympathy in order to use others, it was then my option to gain control of me again.
I still do acts of random kindness for one of them, because of her place in my life, but it is on my time frame and my availability to do so. I find great peace of mind in the idea of leaving the others to enjoy their misery. I am back to being the person that I had lost and loving every minute of it! When we realize as great of a friend as we are to others is the same friend we can be to ourselves, we learn to be grateful and appreciate our own lives that much more from having had the experience.
This is the best way, that I have of explaining to anyone, why it is that we can many times make our own lives as simple as or as complicated as we want to make them. How about you–Do you have any “misery seeking company” in your lives? Usually these people do start out needing our help and sympathy but many times they will become comfortable in the role and unless we learn to back off they will never seek out their own happiness by letting go of their misery. Lets face it, they are getting more attention,gifts,excuses, entitlement, and praise through sympathy than they ever got through being responsible because we are guaranteeing that they do.