We know we’re not alone in thinking that our partners can “make” us feel angry, jealous, happy, hurt, frustrated. It usually sounds like:
“Ugh. You make me so frustrated.”
“That makes me jealous.”
“You know, you make me so happy.”
“Why do you do things that hurt me?”
Well, besides most of those statements sounding like blame and complaining, all of these statements are also false.
Want to know why?
No person, action, or thing can “make” us feel anything–It’s our perceptions to those events where our emotions lay.
(We know, it sounds a little crazy, right?)
You might be thinking, “How can we not feel hurt if something hurtful happens?”
Well, we’re human, we make mistakes and sometimes, yes, those mistakes are hurtful.
But, when we recognize, it’s not the action that is hurting us, and it’s only our perception and reaction to that action, the game changes completely.
There’s power in this discovery; we can choose how we respond.
Taking emotional responsibility empowers us to to respond, react and experience situations in a way that’s authentic, mature, and accountable.
(And way less painful!)
Let’s say, our partner forgets something important to us. And we find ourselves hurt.
We can get curious:
Is it the fact that they forgot something?
Is it the fact that they forgot something important to us?
Is it the fact that we expected them to remember this thing that was important to us? And maybe, it was the umpteenth time they’ve forgotten something. And that’s the last thing we need on this terrible daywe’ve been having?
Well, in that case, our hurt reaction isn’t really about our partners actions, and more about our reaction to it. The hurt is really about our own expectations, perspective, and poor self care.
Does that make sense? It’s our reaction to the action where the hurt forms. It’s the lens, through which we are viewing, where the perceived hurt is seen. It’s our choice to view it with that lens.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a lot of actions can trigger being hurt. Being hurt (or mad or sad) is a normal (and common) reaction to things, but it’s also a clue to check in with ourselves on why those triggers are hurtful when it becomes unproductive and inauthentic. It’s an opportunity to empower ourselves to either; own our reaction for what it truly is and communicate it, or to choose to change it. (Because, yes, we can choose to change it!)
Here’s some deep diving into those curiosities:
If we have expectations for our partner to remember something important to us (which is totally fair), we can communicate those expectations so they can be met, or adjust them if we choose to.
If this is the umpteenth time it occurred and it’s not a matter of miscommunication, then we can communicate our reaction and go further to ask our partners how we can solve the issue of forgetfulness.
If it’s the last straw on a stressful day, we can use this reaction as a clue to take time to pause, take care of ourselves, and fulfill our own needs.
When we see that no situation or person “makes” us feel any which way, it opens our eyes to all the ways we can react to the situation–it becomes a freedom like no other. It frees us to ask for what we need and seek our own fulfillment, rather than relying on our partners to shoulder it.
P.S. It’s freedom for the partner, too.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hang on.
Does that mean we’re free to do whatever we want, act on hurtful intentions and all that?
Absolutely not, it simply allows us the freedom to only be responsible for our own emotions, and frees our partners to be responsible for theirs, too.
We don’t get off the hook for being hurtful, it’s completely our responsibility to act like a decent person. However, this requires both of us to be accountable. With emotional responsibility, we can address our issues and expectations in a much more productive and pleasant way, and so can our partners.
Which, if you’re anything like us, is a little scary. That means we have no one to blame, no one to hold accountable, and no one to save us, but ourselves. (Ah! Where do we hide?)
Jokes aside, when we really think about it, even with the scariness, there also comes an immense power with being responsible for your own emotions. And, although that power resides with us alone regarding our reactions, our partners (relieved of the responsibility for our emotional responses) are free to be there to support us, encourage good choices, and celebrate those wins. Just as we are free be there for them.
Trust us, our relationship skyrocketed when we both started practicing emotional responsibility. It’s constant practice and we’ve no-where-neared mastering it, but it’s oh-so-worth it when we get it right.
Tell us, do you agree? We love hearing from you!