Can you act to be happy?
anonymous Asks ...
When I act like myself people don’t like me and I have a hard time keeping relationships alive. When I act like a phony person who is much nicer and more interested in other people’s kids and families etc. then people like me a lot and I have lots of friends – but I don’t like myself and I know they don’t really like the real me, just the fake me. It seems like no matter what I do I can’t be happy. So how should I act around other people?
Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
The poser of this question raises a situation that is not uncommon. When you find yourself in such a situation how should you act? What should you do? The reality is that many people in this sort of situation may discover that the question itself is the wrong question to be asking.
The first question that people need to ask themselves is where their own strength comes from. Are you energized from within or from without? This is different than asking whether you can get along with other people or whether you are a "people person". This is really asking about how you recharge. Some people recharge by being around other people and being very engaged with them. Other people recharge from within themselves, during their "alone time", and are able to tell themselves that they are good and on track. The answer to this question will help you understand how relationships with others and relationships with yourself may relate.
This leads to the next question to ask - what is it you are looking for in your relationship with other people? Are you looking for a lot of more casual relationships or are you looking for a limited umber of deeper relationships? What interests you about the other people in your life? How interested are you in their lives? What really makes someone a friend? What do you want from your friendships?
There are people that have a lot of friendships where the level of connection is relatively on the surface. There are other people that only have a few close friends but the level of trust and connection is much deeper. Neither one of these is necessarily better than the other - the question is what do you, with your personality, need? Paying attention to how you feel about yourself can give you some answers to this question but may also point to where you need to do some work yourself.
One caution that must be addressed is that if your relationships are all about what you get out of it then this is a very self-centered view. Relationships should be where both parties naturally want what is best for each other and look out for the other as well as themselves. If you really do not like other people (as people) and are only looking out for what is in it for you, then you might want to seek out further help about it.
If you are honest with yourself in thinking about your friendships and relationships, the answer as to what you should do and what work you still have to do should become clear. This will lead you on a path that leads to wholeness and peace.