“He upset me”.
“She should be nicer.”
“I made him cry.”
“She makes me so angry.”
“I don’t want to say no because she’ll be upset.”
“He makes me feel really insecure.”
How often do we blame others for how we feel, or take the blame for how others feel? Frequently, a lot, all the time, too often.
So many of us walk around blaming others for what is going on in our own lives, thinking that all sorts of negative things are happening “to us” and that there is an external force creating problems for us – whether that force is an individual, an institution, or the universe itself.
What I’m describing is an epidemic of blame. We’re all pointing fingers, but not taking healthy responsibility for ourselves. Consider this: when you point your finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
I know it seems like other people have the power to hurt you or make you angry and do so regularly, but they are simply triggering something in you that already exists. They are reminding your subconscious of past wounds, and their words and actions are grating on those wounds. They’re not creating the problem, they are just rubbing up against it.
How do we stop this epidemic? By taking responsibility for our own emotions. Only you determine your emotions. You decide when you allow yourself to be triggered. How do you decide? By becoming aware of your triggers. When you feel the emotion rising, ask yourself:
What is this person bringing up in me?
How does this situation mirror my past?
How can I respond rather than react?
What perspective change is required for me to no longer be triggered by this person/event/etc.?
Our reactions are determined by our perspectives and how we interpret words, actions and events. The more we get to know ourselves, the more power we have to decide how to respond. When will people stop hurting you? When you stop allowing them to.
And what about other people? Many of us tend to believe that we are to blame for others’ moods. We tiptoe around certain people so as not to upset them, believing that we are responsible for their happiness or unhappiness. No. We are not required to babysit other people’s emotions. When we do that, we’re not allowing others to look after their own selves, which they are fully capable of doing.
What we can do is treat people with respect and kindness and have the expectation that they will take responsibility for their own emotions. When we lead by example and expect more of others, they are more likely to step up and learn from us. So let's work on ourselves, and show others how it's done!