Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts. ~ Og Mandino
- He irritates me to the core
- My friend doesn’t make me feel special
- She brings the demon in me
- My boss punctures my confidence in meetings
- My blood boils when people don’t keep their commitments
- I feel ignored when he doesn’t talk to me for a day
Most of the statements cited above are familiar to us. Either we have uttered them or we have heard someone else do that. Two things stand out from the above lines.
- The person saying this is holding the other person responsible for their feelings
- There is an underlying assumption that our feelings are remotely controlled by others’ actions
These 2 beliefs can shackle us in the prison of feelings and label us as victims of other people’s behavior. Others’ action definitely can be a stimulus for our feelings, but not the cause! Let’s dig this deeper through an example. When I say “My boss punctures my confidence in meetings”, do I mean my boss has a pin in his hand and he pricks that on me? Is there a physical pain in my body due to the prick? Do I hear the sound of balloon bursting? What’s the drama here?
Our reality is colored by our invisible beliefs, values and expectations/needs. When my boss challenges me in meetings, he is doing something that is not harmonious with my needs. The greed of meeting our needs is the real cause of emotional hurt. Our unmet needs trigger negative feelings in us and we verbalize them as if feelings are remotely operated. Blaming others for our feelings is just like languishing in the prison that is unlocked and unguarded! Freedom is just a few feet away if we decide to walk out.
All we need is a clear awareness of our needs and the assertiveness to state our needs. When we state our needs there is a possibility of fulfilling them, rather than depending on others’ telepathic skills (to read our minds). Even if being assertive doesn’t help, at least we can be content that we left no stone unturned and make peace with reality of life.
We can break free from the prison of feelings only if we take responsibility and understand that the locus of control is within us.
We have no control on what happens to us; we can only control how we respond to the situation!