Not everyone is going to be happy for you when you are. People you will expect to share in your joy, to be pleased for you, to acknowledge whatever’s happened, might not.
They’ll maybe like your Facebook or Instagram post(s) but say absolutely nothing at all directly to you. It could be that they go radio silent, and you’re double-checking your texts just to be sure that you didn’t miss one or mute or block them by accident. Maybe you spend time around them and they make no mention of the thing or belittle your progress, achievement or happiness.
You can’t help wondering if you’ve upset or offended them. You know that if it were the other way around, you’d be happy for them. There’s no way you would have ghosted or been distant or unkind. Even though you know you haven’t done anything wrong, you kinda sorta definitely wonder what you did to warrant this treatment. The whole thing pees on your parade.
Not everyone is going to be happy for you when you are. Humans are funny creatures, and we’re caught up in our own stuff.
Sometimes, much as we don’t want to be that person, other people’s happiness triggers our unhappiness. We experience insecurity, envy, comparison, inferiority, shame, jealousy, contempt, even. Much as we’d like to be above this stuff, instead, we’re plunged into a place that alters how we show up for someone. Our emotional baggage, so our old pain, fear and guilt, surfaces in response to other people’s happiness, and it might be out of our awareness or we may not have developed healthy ways of responding.
In a world where it’s all about climbing ladders, following paths, being ‘successful’ and ticking boxes, sometimes other people’s happiness reminds us that we’re not ‘there’ yet. We internalise it as criticism and failure instead of affirmation that good things can and do happen.
It’s also important to note, though, that something that change brings is a shift in dynamics. Sometimes one person’s happiness alters any roles that each party’s depended on.
Let’s say that the dynamic is based on and reliant on being in a similar place on similar levels. One party can feel lost when the other is happier. Let’s say a friendship has one party playing Rescuer and the other cast in the role of Victim, and the latter is happy. Boom, it upsets the roles. You may have outgrown the friendship.
Of course, it’s hard for you on the receiving end. We imagine that being happy is a happy time, but it can bring change that creates loss.
Only you know the true dynamics of your relationship and what this person may or may not be going through. Part of what may be hurting is that this phase of your life and your happiness has exposed the true nature of your relationship, something that had been disguised by the old status quo. As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge and accept, doing so allows you to be more honest about what’s happening. It’s better than making up stories that wound you.
You don’t have to assume the worst about this person, though.
Something to consider, and this will only apply in certain instances, is whether you’re projecting an unrealistic expectation onto this person. So, it could be that they are ‘happy’ for you, they’re just not doing it in the way you think they should. For instance, maybe you assumed that when X happened, they’d throw a party or be fully immersed in your experience, like an engagement or baby. But that might be a big ask, especially if this is your vision, not who they are. Or especially if this is your vision, and you haven’t communicated it. Also, people can be happy for you without being immersed up to the hilt in it like you are.
Allow space for the possibility that they’re going through something without bypassing your feelings.
When you ask the question What’s the baggage behind it? you get to distinguish yourself from this person and acknowledge what’s coming up for you in this instance. Where else have you felt, thought and acted similarly? What does their attitude and behaviour remind you of?
Sometimes people won’t respond how you’d expect them to, and it won’t always make sense. If you don’t internalise and personalise it too much, you have enough boundaries to let space and time do its work. There might be a conversation at some point and reconnection. Or, you adjust your relationship to accommodate what you’ve learned. In this way, you have the space to connect with those who are happy for you, and that includes yourself.
Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to “please” or protect yourself from others? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.