As children, we are taught that other people hurt our feelings and in turn, that we are responsible for how somebody else feels. We were told things like:
“When you said that, you upset your sister.”
“It made Mommy feel really sad, when you didn’t listen.”
“The teacher said he had to apologize because he hurt my feelings.”
As adults, we still think this way.
We were never taught how to act as emotional adults so we continue to behave like emotional children.
We still blame other people for how we feel, and THEN expect them to fix our emotional well being with an apology or other acknowledgment. But the truth is,
It is impossible to make someone feel an emotion.
Words are sent out as sound waves. Sound waves do not cause emotions. Our thoughts about those sounds cause our emotions.
If sound waves caused emotions, then every single person in the world would have the same emotion to every sound wave.
People have a very difficult time understanding this concept. Why?
We mistake our thoughts for facts.
99.9% of the world is walking around believing that the voice inside their head is the gospel truth.
If I think that she’s rude, then she is.
If I think that he shouldn’t have done that, then he’s wrong.
If I think that was hurtful, then it was.
It’s the mentality: I’m right. You’re wrong (because my thoughts told me so!)
Let’s take a look at an example between a client and coach.
Client: Yea, but he said I was the most self-centered jerk he’s ever met. Of course that’s going to make me angry!
Coach: Do you believe that you’re a self-centered jerk?
Client: Well, no, I know that I’m not.
Coach: Then, if you don’t believe what he said, why are you angry?
Client: Because he shouldn’t talk to me that way.
Coach: Talk to you in what way?
Client: Shouting and calling me names. (See the childish verbiage here?)
Coach: Aha. So he’s not following your “manual.” You have a belief that “People shouldn’t shout at you and call you names.” THIS is the THOUGHT that caused you to feel angry, NOT his actions. He did something that went against what you view is “right.”
We each have a big fat manual on how other people should or shouldn’t behave.
“Friends shouldn’t break their promises.”
“Parents should stay out of their children’s business.”
“Boyfriends should show affection in public.”
When people don’t follow our manual, we blame.
“It’s your fault I’m feeling like this. What are you going to do to make me feel better?”
This leaves us feeling completely powerless. We become 100% dependent on somebody else for the way we feel.
As a coach, it’s so important to show my clients how they are responsible for their own suffering. With this, they regain their sense of empowerment back. Once they understand how their thoughts cause their feelings, they can choose to believe whatever they want-on purpose- no matter the circumstance.
Let’s say that a completely different client had the same exact experience with someone, but this client had the belief, “People are entitled to say whatever they please about me. It means nothing about me!”
This person is NOT going to feel angry. This person may laugh and shrug it off. He’s going to feel just fine about it and continue on with his day.
Same circumstance. Two very different feelings.
Another client with the same exact experience, could’ve had the thought, “Ya know what? He’s right. I can be a jerk sometimes.” This client recognized a fault of his, owned it and learned from it.
Just because you thought what he or she did (or said) was hurtful, does not mean everybody would agree. External circumstances do not cause our feelings. Our thoughts about those circumstances, do.
Pay attention to your feelings because there’s always a teachable moment.
If you find yourself feeling hurt, angry, disappointed, etc. after an interaction with someone:
1. Stop and remove yourself from the situation.
3. Ask yourself: “Why am I feeling this way right now?” Be honest and write down what comes up. What thoughts are causing your feelings? What are you learning about yourself? What thoughts make up your personal manual?
4. Turn your pointed finger around. For example, maybe your first thought was, “She’s being rude.” Ask yourself, “How was I being rude? How was I being mean?”
5. Own your faults and flaws. Sometimes, when somebody “hurts our feelings,” and we react defensively, it’s because we believe what they’re saying. Learn to swallow your ego and own it!
6. Choose what to believe on purpose. What thought can YOU come up with to make YOU feel better about the circumstance?
7. Remember: The only person you can control is yourself. Trying to control others is like beating a dead horse.
Learn to become more of the emotional adult you’re capable of being. Can you imagine how peaceful the world would be if more people understood this concept?
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