Jill and Trent have been in a relationship for a long time. They love each other very deeply and treasure their time spent together. The problem? Trent can’t leave his former girlfriend, Laura. He doesn’t love her, but he can’t bring himself to cause her pain.
Trent is one of those people who easily—too easily—feels guilty and responsible for the happiness of others. If someone close to him seems displeased or unhappy, he believes he caused it and should do something to fix it.
In our counseling session, I pointed out that he’s actually hurting Laura more by being unfaithful and deceptive. “And furthermore,” I explained, “we don’t do people any favors by catering to their illusions. It keeps them from growing and grappling with truth.”
The pain of lost relationships and fading hopes is built into the very fabric of daily living. We can’t escape it.
When he’s in Laura’s presence, he’s there physically, but that’s all. The rest of him is absent. In all likelihood, she senses that, which causes her a certain degree of suffering and unhappiness.
I just flatly told him:
“You can’t make her happy if you’re not happy being with her.”
Because he’s a divided man, his energy is diluted in each relationship. He pays a price as well. Sacrifice and self-denial is not a route to happiness. For his sake and the sake of everyone involved, he needs to follow the path of his truth.
“If you honor yourself—honoring what’s right for you—you’ll automatically be honoring everyone else,” I said.
“How can that be?” he asked. “I’ll be hurting Laura.”
I explained that honoring Laura means respecting her dignity and honoring her soul—the higher aspect of her. “You need to stop treating her like an emotional cripple—someone incapable of growing from pain and incapable of helping herself,” I said. “Stop making yourself her god.”
In the final analysis, Trent’s not responsible for Laura’s happiness, she is.
By the end of our session, I was encouraged by Trent’s response to my following question: “Why is suffering a good thing? What is good about it?”
He came off with this WOW:
“Suffering helps a person dig deep into their soul. As a result they become wiser and stronger.”
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.