I know I am going to get some static on this one, but hear me out…. It’ll be good for you. PROMISE.
Your thoughts create your feelings. I’ll repeat that… Your thoughts create your feelings. Not my thoughts, not your Mom’s thoughts, not your Dad’s thoughts, not your friend’s, teacher’s, mentor’s, spouse’s or anyone else’s thoughts, but your thoughts create your feelings.
Let me say that another way: You feel the way to do, because of the thoughts You are thinking and not because of what someone said or did to you. Is that easier to digest?
For simplicity's sake, we are only talking words and nonphysical actions….
So that being said, NO ONE CAN HURT YOUR FEELINGS, only you can do that to yourself. #truth
Unfortunately, just the opposite is indoctrinated into society at a very young age.
As children, we were reprimanded for “hurting” someone’s feelings, or when asked why we were sad, the response: “I am sad because Sally hurt my feelings” was acceptable. We are taught to be kind and not to hurt other’s feelings, which of course sounds innocuous, appropriate and all Kumbaya-like, but the truth is, thinking that you have control over how someone else feels or that they have control over how you feel, is one of the most damaging and disempowering things you have ever been taught in your life. (Not the “be kind” part, :-) but the “be sure not to hurt other people’s feelings” part).
I mean I get it, this is a challenging concept to grasp. It is so ingrained in us to delegate the responsibility of our feelings to our spouse, kids, siblings, parents, friends, etc. we don’t think twice about it. Instead of owning our feelings and realizing it isn’t what a person says, does, or even doesn’t do that “hurts” our feelings, but the meaning we give to that action is what creates the painful feeling. I distinctly remember having a friend who told me “she had to guard her heart against me because of how I hurt her feelings and made her feel unimportant” her example of a particular incident was when I was talking about playing golf with a mutual friend in front of her and not inviting her? She said, what am I chop liver? But to be honest, my friend and I were planning on playing 18 holes, and she a) wasn't really into golf and b) 18 holes is a lot if you're not really into golf. It didn't cross my mind that she would want to go. If she had said something, shown an interest, of course, we would have said yes, we would have been shocked, but wouldn't have denied her.
OUCH right? Well back then, I took it to heart and I did allow my thoughts about what she said upset me. It bothered me so much that when I was around her afterward I walked on eggshells for fear I’d hurt her feelings unknowingly, which was stressful in and of itself and made going to parties NO FUN. It stopped me from being me, and you know what? That was a shame because I’m a hoot! LOL, I really am a lot of fun to be around (could be a personal opinion, but I believe it's a fact), and I KNOW I would never intentionally be rude or hurtful to anyone, but the truth is I can’t control how someone perceives me, likes me, gets or doesn't get me. I cannot control their thoughts or beliefs, I can only control mine, and that is powerful. I can just be me and be good with that. Just Jill. You just have to be you and like who that is.
Side note, my friendship with her survived as that was many years ago and both of us have grown past that awkward time.
So let’s do another example:
Say your spouse forgets your 25th anniversary. What you make that mean is up to you. You could make it mean you are not a priority, or he doesn’t value or love you or think your anniversary is important or a boatload of negative thoughts or you could make it mean he’s not good with dates or he had a busy week or he simply forgot (forgetting is a memory thing, he could just be getting old!) or some other neutral or positive thought. Which meaning will produce a more pleasurable outcome? It’s a choice, it doesn’t have to be about you; it could just be about him. It is completely up to you. You can do or feel however you want, and you may choose to be upset with him, that’s OK, just OWN it. By that I mean to recognize that you are making the choice to “hurt your feelings” because of the meaning you are giving to his inaction. You are choosing to feel sad, mad or somehow bad. Once you know you are responsible for those feelings, you take back your power. Owning how you are feeling regardless if it is good or bad, is where your power lies. I repeat, it isn’t what a person says or does or even doesn’t do that “hurts” your feelings, it is the meaning you give to that action that is creating the painful feeling.
You are the one in control of feeling mad, sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, etc.… You are responsible for your thoughts and feelings, no one else is, no one else can be. It isn’t their fault you feel how you feel, I don’t care what they said. It’s you that is hurting yourself with the meaning you are giving their words. No one has the power to generate a feeling in you. Only you have that power. Take it back. When you blame someone for how you are feeling, you completely disempower yourself. When you say things like, that person made me angry, or hurt my feelings, made me have a bad day, is making me crazy, is frustrating as hell…. you are giving that person credit for something you are 100% responsible for.
Still don’t believe me? The next time you are feeling negative emotions, start examining the thoughts running through your mind. Drill down, where are they coming from, why do you believe them to be true. Dig deep. Eventually, if you do this consistently, you will begin to notice the association between someone’s actions, your thoughts about those actions and how you are feeling… it is kind of like when you figured out algebra. Solving for x is like solving the "Y" of your emotions, and if you get that analogy – bravo, we can be friends. :-)
Once you become aware of your thinking and recognize your patterns of thought, you will reach a crossroads. Meaning, when you are tired of thinking thoughts that cause you to feel pain, you will change. Knowing that YOU get to decide what someone's behavior means to you in your life is empowering. It won’t matter what comes at you. Bring it on! It won’t matter if someone is rude, doesn’t approve of you, or like you, you know you always have a choice. You can make it mean something about you or you can make it mean something about them. Once you start owning your feelings, then you can decide if you want to keep feeling that way deliberately, you are in charge.
One last bit before I go, once you grasp this and really, you want to grasp this, it won’t be perfect harmony afterward, you know all rainbows and unicorns. You will still fall back into those patterns of thought, but you will get better and better at noticing, recognizing, owning and adjusting those thoughts to produce a more positive outcome or behavior. Yes, I still snap and yes, I still get mad or overreact at times, but the time between my reaction and my reflection is noticeably shorter. I am a work in progress always striving to be a better version of myself each day.
Get this, it will change your life.
Love, Laugh and most importantly Learn to Live Boldly.
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