You Can’t Make Other People Happy

The one singular overarching experience of living with schizophrenia for me has been the ebbing and flowing of the paranoia that I feel on a daily basis. This paranoia is a worry and an anxiety that people are constantly making fun of me.

To say the least it’s been a rough road. There are times when I want so badly to connect with people but I’m terrified that they’re going to turn around and make fun of the way I look or the way I move or the way I talk that I have all but resigned myself to the delusion as a fact of life.

This has cost me a number of meaningful interactions that may have turned into great friendships or relationships had I not had this crippling fear that people betray me. It’s caused in me an intense mistrust of society at large and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to get rid of it.

It’s a devil on my shoulder that I’d like to kill but have instead lowered my head to every time it starts to speak.

I smoke. I also live in the healthiest city in the nation and thanks to the Boulder mentality, many of the people I interact with are so blindingly concerned with clean living that I’m afraid it’s clouded their judgment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a lecherous lifestyle but it’s gotten to the point where the obsession for health overrides common sense.

Nobody can be in perfect health and you’re lying to yourself if you think you, let alone everyone else around you can live up to that ideal.

Case in point, my neighbors are obsessive about their fresh air. They are so concerned about it that they have threatened to contact the home owners association and schedule a mediation with me and a health coach simply because I smoke outside on my porch. They are concerned that the tertiary smoke smell is polluting their household.

Finally after a year of smoking on my porch they typed up an official letter with the recommendations to the HOA and I conceded and said I would no longer smoke on my porch. That left me to smoke inside my house, which for all intents and purposes is fine, but the reason I began smoking on the porch was because I was concerned that the smoke smell would leach more easily into their apartment if I smoked inside. So be it though.

It didn’t seem to be a problem from then on but I continually worry that there are not happy with the smell of smoke. This worry is the impetus for this article. It seems my paranoid mind is still so concerned with getting on people’s good sides that it causes me anxiety if I can’t live up to that ideal. I’ve also been learning to accept things that I can’t change and the anxiety over my paranoia is definitely one of those things.

In my ongoing quest for peace of mind I’ve started a regimen of self talk focused on positivity and acceptance. Mainly, that it’s not my job to make other people happy, that I accept that not everybody is going to like me and that I can’t make them like me no matter how hard I try.

This is something I struggle with daily and just this morning I’ve begun to feel better about the whole thing, not being so concerned about the happiness of other people.

Again, don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be empathetic but it gets to a point where it’s just not sustainable anymore and you have to give up the desire to please everyone.

It was Bill Cosby who said that he didn’t know the key to success but that the key to failure was most definitely trying to please everyone.

It seems like a stupid thing to worry about and I’m well aware of that fact but there’s simply not enough time or energy in one man to keep everyone happy. Including his neighbors who’s obsession for clean air is becoming all too unreasonable.

I hope I can translate this realization to myself in the long term and ease my stress a bit. I guess at this point, I should be happy that this is one of biggest problems. I’m under no illusions that people have it so much harder and at this point, having it written it all out, it seems like a small deal comparatively.

I’m working on it.

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Comments

  1. Nice article. I was at a major social event last night and I fell into my trap of assuming that I was less, much less, then everyone else. I cannot shake the thoughts that they hate me or think that I am weird. So I basically stood there like a dummy just watching people enjoy the open bar loaded with top-shelf liquor (I’m an alcoholic and don’t drink anymore).

    Your articles are a great thing for me to focus on – I check your blog daily.

  2. I’ve been researching schizophrenia religiously for weeks now in efforts to write an accurate representation of the illness in my first screenplay.

    I have to say that your writing has been the most insightful to me so far and look forward to reading more of your amazing writing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Matthew

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