Has anyone ever made you feel angry or sad? Resentful, small or unappreciated? I bet they have. Jerkwads.
I know, because me too.
People, right? They’re The Worst! They make us feel terrible! Ugh!
I mean, I suppose people can also make us feel happy, joyful, attractive and brilliant, too, but we don’t tend to get so hung up on that stuff, do we? Nope. That stuff slides off like sunglasses on a sweaty day.
So, what can we do when other people make us feel bad? Apart from telling them off, storming off, or writing them off, that is?
If you’re thinking a nice 40-acre plot with tall, thick walls would do the trick, I’m here to tell you that there’s another way. Plus, if people are making you feel bad now, they’ll be able to make you feel bad from a distance, too. It ain’t just a proximity problem.
We can actually stop other people from making us feel bad by realizing that no one is making us feel anything, period.
Wait, what, you say? Because you have known some people who have made you feel things, for sure. They’ve made you sad or angry. You have Evidence, and plenty of it, to prove that people have, in fact, made you feel very bad, indeed.
I knoooow. Again, me too. I also have Evidence. It’s extensive, arranged chronologically, alphabetically and by colour (sadness = blue; anger = red, etc).
The reality is that Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Pretending, or rather believing that other people are responsible for our emotions (or our actions) is at best lazy and at worst codependent.
The thing is, no one can make you feel anything, or do anything either, for that matter. Your feelings (and your actions and your choices and thoughts) are your very own purview, and no one else’s.
Now, someone might do or say something to you, to which you react in a particular way, which might entail some feelings you’d rather not experience. It’s possible that they even intended to create that particular reaction. Especially if they know you closely—we do tend to know which buttons to push when it comes to our family and friends, after all…
I’m not saying that you aren’t feeling sad, angry, resentful, hurt, unappreciated, unloved, or any other way you’re feeling in response to someone else’s behaviour or opinions. How you’re feeling is certainly real, because you are feeling it.
But they can’t actually manufacture a feeling for you. That’s your department. Your brain, your neurons, your thoughts and emotions. You are your very own feelings factory.
Our thoughts and feelings are our own domain. And, while we’re on the topic, you can’t cause, own, prove or disprove anyone else’s, either.
It’s so easy to say, “You made me feel sad,” or “He makes me so angry,” or “My family doesn’t appreciate me,” and we’ve all been there and done that.
What we don’t realize, though, is that we’re throwing our sovereignty out like a hot potato when we inadvertently assign our internal experience to an external instigator. And that’s when we cease to be the architects and governors of our own experience of life. If our locus of control resides outside of us, that’s going to be pretty frustrating and powerless.
It’s much more powerful—and accurate— to say something like this: “I feel sad when you say things like that to me.” Or, “I feel angry when you do that thing I’ve asked you not to do.”
Is it that your family makes you feel resentful and unappreciated, or that you feel unappreciated and then you feel resentful, to boot (how fun)? How do you know they don’t appreciate you? Did you read their minds and find tangible, irrefutable proof of their ingratitude?
If we’re all being honest, probably not.
If someone else is responsible, and by “responsible” I mean “to blame” for our emotions and thoughts and experience of life, it’s likely we’re going to feel awfully damn helpless to change it.
There’s a whole lot of freedom in taking true responsibility—that is to say, taking ownership and not blame. It means that you’re not on the hook for other people’s emotions, and your own emotions are not at the whim of other people’s opinions and actions, either.
So, once again for the people in the back: why are people making you feel bad? Because you’re letting them.
Give everyone, and especially yourself, a break, and start taking responsibility for your own emotions.
Stop giving your consent and permission to be made to feel inferior, and you’ll be free to realize that you can’t really be made to feel inferior by anyone but your own damn self.
And then, just for fun, maybe stop making yourself feel inferior, too. Trust me: you’ll feel a whole lot better.