You Make Me Feel…

How many times have you said these words?  YOU MAKE ME FEEL
What if I told you that statement is incorrect and the truth is people can only trigger emotions within you that are rooted in your own beliefs about the world, yourself, and others?

For example, my girlfriend could ask me how dinner tasted, and I might say it was fine. She may react with hurt and disappointment in my response because she was hoping for more validation and words of affirmation. It was not my intention to “cause” her reaction. I could not read her mind to determine what response she was expecting. My response simply triggered a pre-existing belief within her that her cooking is inadequate or I am not engaged with her love languages. Maybe we have had a rocky couple months and she is already hyper-aware of any response I give that doesn’t meet her expectations. None of her thoughts are within my control. Why do I take ownership of her thoughts and emotional responses to believe I made her sad?

The only thing I can control is how I respond to her reaction. I can seek to clarify how I felt about the dinner with more specific language or seek to engage her love languages better. My efforts to do this cannot ensure a specific emotional response, but they can increase the likelihood of the type of response I am pursuing from her. 

We conveniently forget that our emotions are only OUR emotions. It is much easier to blame others for our emotional states rather than own the dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs that are at the core of our emotions. The challenge is to look within yourself and stop looking at others when we experience negative emotions. These negative emotions can be warning signs of codependency, low self-esteem, shame, depression, anxiety, or a general lack of self-acceptance. 

We have much more control over our emotions than we give ourselves credit. ‘You make me feel‘ is one of the most abused phrases in our language. This realization is not my theoretical discovery but is the work of Drs. Beck & Ellis. The challenge of their theories is that it requires us to look at ourselves honestly and avoid fixating on others. We must focus on what we can control within ourselves and stop trying to control others. This is a challenge worth accepting. Will you accept this challenge?

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