I was chatting with Leigh, an old girlfriend from university a few weeks ago at my fathers service, and the topic moved towards what did we learn from each other that carried with us? I try to mine smart people for gems of information and wasn’t expecting her to say anything other than “I was young once and didn’t mind wasting time having fun” but she floored me with something that I had forgotten I had said.
I had done something that she found really frustrating – I have no idea what it was and it probably doesn’t matter much. She said “you are making me feel so angry” to which I replied “I can’t make you feel anything.”
What struck me as profound about her mentioning this is that Leigh has three degrees, works as a educational psychologist and she said that she has given this piece of information out to a number of people though out the years. She never mentioned that it was to any of her clients so I’ll assume that it was just her friends and people in a non-therapeutic setting. I, however, have and will say this to my coaching clients and basically anyone who needs to see themselves as the source of their own emotional state of mind vs. holding other people responsible for their pain.
As I turn the corner and close off my Childhood I see and feel the truth of this statement made 17 years ago. My grudges are my creation. If I’m annoyed that someone didn’t live-up to an expectation that I created and pushed onto them, that’s my choice. I could have created smaller expectations or none at all. Even if I mentioned the expectation to them and they agreed to abide by it, my disappointment in their decision to look after themselves first is my choice. They can’t make me feel anything.
It is my love, my hate, my compassion, my sense of abandonment, my everything. Adults understand and live by this. They establish boundaries and let others in WISE to the fact that with them inside, the potential to hurt grows. But we own our emotions and our emotional responses to our subjective interpretation of reality. I have too much love to go to waste, BUT I realize, understand and accept that I risk emotional pain by reaching out and partnering with another human being. My responsibility is to look after myself and my interests; to direct this love to me first and then to others. Until I have children, I am responsible for just me. My family, girlfriends, friends, co-workers and peers need to look after themselves and their children / interests.
The only power others have over us is the power we give them. And even then, we choose our thoughts which in turn shape our state of mind and emotional reactions. It’s fine to give love away, but if you cannot handle not getting it back, you aren’t giving out love. You are sharing something dark and sinister.
It was a timely refresher from an old and dear friend. Thanks Leigh!