Photo credit: Tanja Heffner,

When I was a kid, I dreamed of growing up, meeting Prince Charming, and living happily ever after.

It seems like such a simple notion. However, the Disney fantasy doesn’t factor in the reality of our human experience. Prince Charming might not always listen when you need him to. He might not show you he loves you in just the right way, or fill you with a sustaining feeling of bliss which we expect when we meet our soulmate.

I hear on a regular basis lists of what my client’s partners are doing wrong. I’m guilty of doing the same with my husband. It’s such an easy trap to fall into. He/she isn’t doing x, y, or z that they “should” be doing.

Our unhappiness in our relationships isn’t because our partners lack something. It’s because we’ve bought into the false belief that anyone other than ourselves is responsible for our happiness.

I have a question I ask when I find myself stuck in the “should” trap with my husband. How can I expect someone else to be responsible for my happiness — and provide it in an instant — if I’m not providing it for myself?

When we learn to create happiness for ourselves, we’ll never again be without it.

This doesn’t mean that other people can’t enhance our happiness. Or that we shouldn’t have requests and preferences that we ask of those we love most. All it means is that we’ll only truly be happy when we accept the power of creating our happiness in every moment and every day.

The beautiful thing’s that once you take the power of your happiness back, you’ll be able to experience it on your timeline rather than waiting on someone else to provide it for you.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks for escaping expectations of others to providing our own happiness:

Look Inward

Do some soul searching and get clear on what “happiness” means to you. Dig a few layers deeper into the feelings that you associate with happiness. If you don’t know what it is you’re seeking, it’ll be nearly impossible to find it.

Look in a Mirror

Become aware of the situations in which you most frequently expect someone else to fill your needs or provide you with happiness. Then flip the expectation back onto yourself. Buy yourself flowers, chocolate, or a fabulous dinner, and skip the wait time.

When other people see you living in happiness, they’ll naturally want to join you.

Love Yourself

Redefine what self-love means for you. This may be a tough one. It brings us back to the concept of “how can we expect other people to love us if we don’t love ourselves?”

It might be too big of a step right now to say “I love myself,” and mean it. Try starting with “I’m open to exploring what it means to love myself,” and see what comes up.

The willingness to explore can open up parts of us that we never knew we had or have long forgotten existed.

Practice Makes Happy

Grow a happiness practice. Take note of anything and everything that makes you feel good throughout your day. What we focus on we attract more of.

We want to practice focusing on what makes us happy, and from that attract more happiness to us.

Happy Isn’t a Place (It’s People)

Start building your tribe of soul “mates”. Best buddies who can help you get out of your funk, or even better, celebrate all of your successes.

The phrase “it takes a village” isn’t just meant for raising children. We all crave connection and growth, and it’s such an unrealistic expectation to assume that one person can provide it all for us.

This isn’t to be confused with finding more people on whom you push your expectations. These mates will be your tribe of “teachers/mentors/cheerleaders” who will support you as you take actions towards building your happiness.

If you find yourself struggling, consider investing in a coach, counselor, or therapist. Someone who will help you dissolve or move past what’s blocking you from creating the life and relationships you desire most.

The power to create happiness is entirely in our own hands, and sometimes we need someone else to help us see past the story we’re stuck in. Yes, even coaches have coaches, too!

Even though Prince Charming might not be real, you have the power to bring your fairy tale to life!