Phrase #4: "He/she MAKES me feel...."
It's a common myth that others are responsible for our feelings. Let's face it-- Most of us didn't grow up learning how to automatically communicate our thoughts and feelings, and set boundaries in a healthy way. Many times in counseling, we will hear someone struggling with the relationship dynamics in a way that places blame or ownership of the person's feelings on their significant other (or the person who is stirring up the feelings for our client): "He makes me feel stupid and worthless; She makes me feel guilty all of the time; He makes me feel ugly", etc., etc. Someone else may be disrespectful or hurtful in how they communicate or act to you, but they don't own your feelings-- you do!
If we give power to someone else to control how we feel, then we will consistently set ourselves up for failure. There is also the potential that when we listen to someones words, we can hear them through a filter that turns the words into something else. For example, if someone says: "I need you to help out more around the house because I'm feeling overwhelmed", that does not mean they are saying "You are so lazy and stupid! You never do anything around here!". Often times, our emotional reactions are based on our interpretation of someone's words-- not the words that are actually spoken.
Does this mean that if someone truly is inappropriate in how they communicate with you that it's not painful or hurtful? Absolutely not! Another person's words can hold meaning on what feelings are stirred up inside of the receiver. The good news is that we all have the choice as to how we will and will not allow ourselves to interpret someone else's words and/or behavior! We also have the choice to set boundaries about how we allow someone to speak to us and what we allow with their behavior. Once we start taking ownership of our feelings and recognize that we are all responsible for how we feel (and what we choose to do with our feelings), life can become a lot more manageable and freeing.
How often do you use the phrase "He/she makes me feel...."? And how can you begin taking ownership of your feelings today?
Joleen Watson, MS, LMFTA, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fisher