I’ve tried very hard recently to eliminate saying that anyone or anything in my life made me feel a certain way. In doing so, I’ve started noticing just how common it is for people to say things like, “she made me feel bad,” or “my kids are driving me crazy,” or “my boss is making my life hell,” or “my financial situation is stressing me out.” If you’ve worked with me or followed me for a while, you can probably guess what I have to say about this…no one, and no thing can make you feel anything. You, and only you have the power to make you feel anything.
This is great news for some, because it puts us in control of our emotions. Others who aren’t ready to take accountability for their lives, will fight me on it because it’s much easier to blame everyone else and everything external for their misery. It’s our thoughts about what people say and do, and thoughts about our circumstances in life, that produce feelings. If you spend a lot of your life feeling crappy, and you genuinely want to change that, it’s time to take a good look at how you react to life.
When dealing with someone or something you deem unpleasant, first ask yourself, “Can I change this?” If the answer is yes, and you’re feeling up for it, go for it! If change is not an option, you have two choices… accept it, or resist it.
What most people don’t realize, is that it is super common to walk around in a state of resistance. When we say someone or something made us feel a certain way, that is resistance. Resistance is getting angry about something you think you can’t control, and making it mean something that makes you feel crappy. Resistance does not serve you. It just prevents you from moving forward and feeling good.
Accepting life as is, does not mean we condone certain behaviors from others, or that we can never expect or want more from life. It simply means we are choosing to feel good, and work with life’s ups and downs. Accepting means less anger, and less pain. The key to acceptance is not to live in a state of denial and just pretend everything in life is sunshine and rainbows, but to change the way we think about, and perceive things.
Let’s use how I can choose to react and feel if my three year old has a meltdown, as an example. First, I ask the question, can I change this? If any of you have, or have ever had a three year old, you know the answer is most likely, no. Now I can choose to resist or accept. Resistance in this scenario would appear as anger, frustration, helplessness, etc. These feelings would not be caused by my daughter’s behavior, but by my thoughts about her behavior. Thoughts like, “I can’t control her,” “She shouldn’t act this way,” “I can’t handle this,” or “Why does she have to act like this?” cause the icky feelings. Acceptance in this scenario would appear as calmness, love, compassion, or even humor. Those feelings would come from thoughts like, “She’s three, and this is how three year olds act sometimes,” “This will pass, just like it always does,” “She’s clearly upset about something, and doesn’t yet know how to express it,” or “She needs my love right now.” The circumstance is the same, but the thoughts are different, and therefore the feelings are different.
Changing the way you think about things, allows you to flow with life more comfortably. When you can’t control another person or situation, know that you can control how you feel. Resist it or accept it; feel crappy, or feel good. It’s up to you. Start thinking about what you’re thinking about, and choose your thoughts wisely!