I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW I FEEL. You are responsible for how you feel. No, not your spouse, partner, friend, mom, dad, sister, cousin, co-worker, manager, employer, aunt, uncle, the person driving the car next to you, the store clerk, etc. This is a biggie. I see so many people unconsciously hand that responsibility over to someone else, to almost anyone else in their lives. I can see how it can easily happen. But it is not healthy or realistic.
When you allow others to be responsible for how you feel, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, hurt, sadness, etc. No matter what people say or don’t say, do or don’t do, it is ultimately up to you and how you react, how you perceive their actions, their words. Let me give you some examples:
- Someone cuts you off when you are driving.
- You leave a voicemail for someone. They don’t acknowledge your call for weeks.
- A friend is short with you. It feels like they are disagreeing with everything you say.
- You have plans with a friend/family member and they cancel at the last minute or they are always late to meet you.
- You are having a conversation with a friend/family member and they are distracted and not listening to you.
- They ask you a question that you just finished answering a minute ago.
- You ask your spouse/partner how they are doing and they immediately get upset with you.
- You run into a co-worker at the store and they walk right past you without saying anything.
- You are at a restaurant trying to get the attention of the server, but they keep walking by never looking your way.
- You call a friend or family member and they sound rushed, annoyed, and/or “put out” when they answer the phone.
- The cashier at the grocery store doesn’t acknowledge you while checking you out.
Yes, in all of these examples it can be annoying and upsetting – BUT it is your choice on how you are going to react to them. You can choose to allow these situations to get you worked up and annoyed OR you can choose to let them go.
I know, sometimes it is easier said than done. It is going to depend on how you are feeling that day. Are you in a good mood or a bad mood? It will feel difficult if you are feeling stressed, depressed, and/or anxious. There is a good chance you are going to get your feelings hurt and end up in an even worse mood. Although if you are feeling happy, upbeat, cheerful, it will be easier to let these things roll off you back and not affect you.
It’s also going to depend on how the people you are interacting with are feeling that day. Were they in a good or a bad mood? We don’t know if something stressful is going on in their lives and that is why they are responding the way they are.
It is important and helpful to remember that we are all doing our best. None of us are mind readers. We don’t know what people are thinking, how they are really feeling, what is going on in their lives. It is similar to people not knowing what we are thinking and feeling all the time. For example, what if that person that cut you off in traffic is in a rush and on their way to the hospital to visit a dying relative?
Being responsible for how I feel is something I am getting better and better at, but I am human and can still catch myself allowing others to be responsible for how I feel.
Here are some tips that can help:
Talk it out with someone you trust. Many times simply talking about what happened, about what upset you, will help you soften your thoughts surrounding the situation. When you can get the thoughts out of our head, it helps you let go of the hold they have on you. You may realize that you were having a bad day and you were allowing someone else to be responsible for how you feel.
Journal. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone right away, you can journal about the situation. This will also help you get the thoughts out of your head on onto paper. You can write down what happened, how it made you feel, and then let them go.
Use a mantra. When you find yourself feeling tense like someone is “doing” something to you, repeat a mantra – it could be “I am 100% responsible for how I feel.” When you repeat the mantra it will help you remember to let go before you become upset, disappointed, etc.
Be curious. As you become more and more aware of situations that you are allowing others to be responsible for, you can start to be curious – in the moment. For example, when you catch yourself getting a little road rage, you can be curious and ask yourself “What is underneath that rage? Am I running late? Am I stressed out? Maybe the person driving stressed out and/or running late? Do I have to be upset about this?
Remember, no one is perfect. There are times that we will find ourselves getting upset, annoyed over something someone says or doesn’t say. It is okay. It is normal. Be gentle with yourself and know that there will be plenty of opportunities for you to practice being responsible for how you feel.
“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.” Hal Elrod