Thursday, August 21, 2008

Are You Riding Someone Else's Rollercoaster?

Has this ever happened to you?

You became emotionally invested in somebody else's plan. They had an idea, got you excited about it, and then suddenly changed course and dropped it.

It's happened to me.

It happened with a man I dated ("Let's get married!" And then, a month later, "I'm not ready to get married.") It happened at work ("We're going to build a new department and make you head of it," and then two months later, "Um, we're sorry. It's not in the budget.")

Here's another scenario: You make your shoulder available to a friend whose husband mistreats her. You're angry about the situation. You think about it when you're in the shower. And then she announces she's leaving him. You're thrilled. You go out for a drink to celebrate.

You're glad you made time for her. You're delighted you're going to see her happy for a change.

And then she calls you to tell you she's back with the almost-ex. He's sorry. They've worked things out. As a matter of fact, they're going away for a romantic weekend. And besides, she doesn't want to be single again.

You hang up the phone, feeling like you've been slammed to the cement. And you have been. Because you have been riding someone else's roller coaster.

This expression, "riding someone else's rollercoaster," is not mine. It's what my friend, Ronnie Ann Ryan, dating coach and author of Manifesting Mr. Right, says you're doing when you allow your life to be taken over by someone else's emotional drama.

Now, it's important to be supportive and a good friend, employee, girlfriend. Definitely. If a friend is stuck in an abusive marriage, it's important to do what you can to help.

But once she indicates she won't be helped, it's time to back away. You can't make her leave her husband. It's time to focus on your life for a change.

Same with the yay-marriage/nay-marriage guy. At some point, you can't let his emotional struggle take over your life. You have to make yourself available for other people and other opportunities.

And when your boss pulls the rug from under you, it could be time to get your resume together and start looking for a better boss.

One of my biggest weaknesses used to be not recognizing when to walk away from an unwinnable situation and letting it shipwreck my happiness. I've gotten much better at it.

When you find yourself riding someone else's rollercoaster, disembark immediately. Then get on a better ride: Your own.