“It made me feel……….” Those words can be heard around us every day. It made me feel so angry. It made me so happy. He said my dress is ugly and it made me feel so worthless. She is such a flirt, it makes me jealous. Emotions that we feel are so often attributed as being caused by another persons’ actions or words. And why not? If another person is dumping negativity onto you or game playing why wouldn’t you feel justifiably annoyed, upset or hurt? These scenarios and hundreds of others like them often help to shape and determine our self image and who we feel we are in the world. There is a different way though. We are actually choosing to feel our emotions, albeit unconsciously, every minute of the day. Can you imagine saying, “I was just told that I was ugly and I chose to believe it for a moment. I was becoming anxious. Can you believe that? I had better check in on where that is coming from and then let it go.”
Depending on the parents that we had, we may have received lots of positive or negative feedback and everything in-between. If we received lots of negativity as a child we may find ourselves easily buying into low self esteem and a part of us is waiting to hear that we have ‘stuffed up again’ or got it wrong. Parents with a negative message project their negativity onto us and because we were little and had no other role models to challenge the validity of what we were told, we believe the stories that we were fed about ourselves. “They made us feel miserable, small, insignificant, worthless.” There it is. The belief and words that have us trapped all through adult life. THEY MADE US FEEL…… We hand over our power to another to tell us who we are, so freely. They (whoever they are) can’t make us feel anything without our permission.
As a child this piece of wisdom is generally not available and we probably wouldn’t have had the capacity to grasp it, even if it were. There are simply an abundance of situations and feelings coming at us that seem to be directly related, but as an adult we have the ability to review this dynamic and weigh it up. What will we do with the labels we are given? As an adult can I start to objectively assess situations that unfold in front of me. Consider the following scenario: My friend seems to be angry today and is raising her voice with me. Will I personalise this situation and be angry or upset with my friend. Become the victim? Why is she being mean to me? She is making me feel awful. Or will I become the observer and consider how I chose to think and respond. eg. Jill, I am feeling that you are angry with me today. What’s going on for you? Can we talk about it? How are you feeling? I noticed that you were looking uncomfortable when you spoke on the phone to your partner before. Is everything OK? Feel like sharing?
Another key here: I am actually becoming really interested in what is going on for the other person. It’s not just about ME. Can I assist the person opposite me and get into their world? Why did they just say that to me? I wonder what that really means for them? Are they just stuck in an old story about themselves right now? Can we explore that honestly. If there is something for me to learn here, I am willing to listen and then go away and review to see if I could have behaved in a more loving/compassionate manner? Did I drop into an old story from my childhood about not being adequate somehow? If we were to adopt this interest in the the other and myself from a more objective view point, the personal growth is tremendous. I am no longer trapped in the labels that I am offered from other people. I get to choose to be a version of myself that is empowered. I choose to learn from each situation. I choose to grow as a person and move towards being a more powerful version of myself.
When I am empowered I get to respond rather than react. When I react, I am simply behaving in an unconsidered manner. My behaviour follows a set pattern that is not mindful of the moment, it is just a robotic type of behaviour based on what I would have done in this situation in the past. All my old programming arises unchallenged from earlier life. Responding is different. If I respond I am considering what is playing out in front of me. It’s a fresh moment, untainted by any prior interaction with this person or any other. I am not getting lost in my subconscious talk of not good enough, stuffed up again, I’m useless etc. I am considering how I wish to be in this moment. This is being spontaneous and alive. I am feeling wonderful. No-one can decide for me, who I am. I am positive. I love life. I love life’s challenges. I love its joys. I feel amazing!