Relationships and misery

Ever think about why people hang onto things that would be easier to let go of? Have you ever had anyone in your life drive you crazy because they are stubborn, rigid, inflexible, or demanding?

Sometimes it is really helpful to consider the benefits of staying miserable. Most people would probably not think of this as a conscious decision, or even consider the business of misery as anything that has to do with choice. Sometimes this behavior is so automatic that persons aren’t even aware there are other options.

The cost associated with NOT changing behaviors- continuing to do things that are hurtful or intentionally adding insult to injury- is sometimes very big.  If a person had to stop doing such behaviors, they would have to tolerate something. They would have to stay still, not take action, not do or say mean things, or even act in a way that is different or opposite of what they are doing. This may also involve a concerted effort to attend to and stop to automatic behaviors. In addition, other options must be available (conscious) in which alternative ways of communicating are effective (getting the point across) and the person doesn’t have to be mean or lose face (diminishing self-respect).

Sometimes it is easier to find compassion for others when we recognize ourselves in these painful moments- moments in which we did not want to accept painful realities-and change our behavior for the better. We wanted to hang on to something, to stay miserable, to fight back, to add insult to injury, and rant and rave in our corner of the universe.

However, finding compassion for ourselves and finding compassion for others generally opens the door for acceptance, receptivity, and openness. In sorrow and pain we can experience joy.  When we can soften our stance, we can get along better with others (and ourselves), move towards understanding, create some breathing space, and work with less harshness and rigidity on solving problems.