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Owning emotion.

There are times when we will tell someone ‘you make me feel…’.

Unwittingly, we have given them power and relinquished responsibility of our feelings.

There are certainly situations that provoke emotions, there’s no denying that, but even in those situations the emotion is ours and ours alone.

The secret is understanding that certain situations trigger certain emotions for us. So where someone being rude might not affect the person next to us, we might feel anger, or humiliation, or fear, or tearful.

So why does one person feel one thing, and another feel a different thing?

It all comes down to experience. Experience informs our emotional knowledge.

For example. When a car backfires, someone who has been exposed to gunshots might think they’re under attack and react accordingly. They may look for where it’s coming from, they may freeze, they may run. (Fight flight freeze etc.)

Someone who has spent their life around cars may know exactly what it is and not react at all.

Someone who has no idea what’s going on may just be curious and quickly forget about it.

So a car backfiring could trigger a PTSD flashback or nothing at all.

The same is true for all emotion. If you feel guilty saying no to someone, that may be because you were taught as a small child to meet the needs of others before your own. ‘Don’t be selfish, share your toys, do what mummy or daddy or teacher says’.

So when you come to say no as an adult, you feel guilty for doing so, for meeting your own needs.

In that situation we once again come back to boundaries. Who’s need is more important right now? If you meet their need over yours how will you be left feeling? Is that feeling okay with you? If you say yes, what is the cost?

What I’m saying is not to blame someone else for your feelings. That’s not to say you are somehow at fault, it’s saying take responsibility. Own what is yours and what is theirs. Define the boundary. Inevitably someone will do something that upsets us, so when that happens, we have to take responsibility for what we feel and they should take responsibility for their own ‘stuff’.

For example. Your partner behaves badly at a public event. How do you feel? Embarassed? Ashamed? Angry?

You may have said ‘you made me so embarrassed!’ As a result, but what you’re doing is blaming them to justify what you’re feeling. Instead of saying ‘you made me feel’, try rephrasing it to ‘I feel embarrassed/angry etc.’

As a result of being honest with ourselves and owning our emotions, we can manage our emotions. We can approach things more healthily, and set sturdier boundaries around how other people’s behaviour impacts us and how we respond to those behaviours.

To be clear, I’m not condoning bad behaviour or exonerating abuse, but asking you to be truthful with yourself about the fact that your emotions are yours alone, and owning them will empower you to respond actively and decisively. It will give you the clarity you need to step out of a place of victimhood into a resourced and emotionally independent place of pro activity.

It’s a difficult concept to explain, so please feel free to ask me questions!

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