Taking Ownership of your feelings
One of the key parts of creating your own peace and happiness involves being in charge of your life. When we lose control of different parts of our lives, it throws us off balance and we’re unsettled. Lose enough control of your life and you start to feel anxious and even scared. There’s been a lot of research done with nursing home residents that illustrates this idea. Elderly people often lose a lot of their autonomy – they lose ownership of their lives. Especially if they have to live in a nursing home. Think about it. They often can’t drive anymore, they may not even get to pick out their own clothes or decide where they go and what they do. They have very little control of their lives. Data shows that when they’re allowed to make decisions about their lives (even little decisions like when they eat and what they eat) they experience less illness, live longer, and they report being happier. All because they got to have some control of their lives and what happened to them.
With that thought in mind, the first step in creating your own happiness (or sense of peace) starts with taking ownership of your feelings. This is an easy concept but a HARD practice. At least I have a lot of trouble with it. It’s easy to take responsibility for the good feelings that you have. It’s much harder to take responsibility for the bad. But we have to be accountable for our feelings if we want to change them. Why? Because if we aren’t in charge of our own feelings than that means someone or something else is in charge. Wouldn’t that be a horrible thought? I mean what if your happiness and peace were determined by somebody else? They could keep you miserable for ever. Now someone out there is saying “Yep. Earl has made me miserable for years. It’s all his fault. I would be happy if he would just disappear.” Maybe you would be happy if he disappeared and maybe you wouldn’t. Who knows? But, you can start to break up some of your sadness right now today with him sitting in the same room as you. You have the power in you to start creating some peace for yourself and you don’t have to change anything about your life other than the way you think.
I’m not telling anyone they should leave a bad relationship or that they should stay in one. What I am saying is this – you can break up some of that sadness, anger, loneliness, despair (insert any negative emotion) and fill it with a little peace. Now will you be a grinning idiot that skips blissfully through life? Probably not. You’ll probably still be sad, angry, lonely or whatever – but it won’t be as bad. You will have replaced some of the bad with good. And when you do that enough, you’ll find yourself feeling a greater sense of peace. Maybe then you’ll be ready and able to do something about your situation. But whatever you do, you have to take responsibility for your own feelings. You have to be able to say “I feel ___________ but I’m going to work on bringing peace to my life.”
On the flip side, everybody else is responsible for their feelings too. So if someone you know is mad, that’s their thing – not yours. It’s NOT your fault they’re mad. Let’s say you come home from work and your spouse is mad that you didn’t put the clothes in the dryer after you said you would. I’m saying it isn’t your fault that they’re mad. It’s their thing, not yours. You can apologize for not doing what you said you would do, but don’t take on their feelings. They have to own them. Boy is this hard for me to do. I’m a sensitive person and I tend to take on other peoples feelings all the time. And when I do that, I’m not happy. So, I’m working on this. But, jeez o’ peez it is haaaaard.
Here’s a nutty idea for you. I think that we only really have two emotions. Everything else is an offshoot of those two things. I think that we feel contentment or we feel scared. Nothing else. It might come out as ecstatic joy – that’s a really strong feeling of contentment. Or, we might feel mad or anxious or depressed or any other negative emotion – that’s all a response to a fear we have. When something happens to us that makes us feel bad, it’s because some deep, down fear that we have has been stirred up. While, I can’t speak for everyone else in the world, I can say that 99% of my fears go back to my fear of not being loved. It’s probably actually 100%, but I’m not sure. So, for me, if I came home and found out that my husband didn’t put the clothes in the dryer like he said he would and I got mad – if dig deep enough, I will discover that he stirred up my fear of not being loved. That’s what I’m upset at. Not the fact that he didn’t dry the clothes. I’m not mad at him, I’m afraid of not being loved. Deep stuff here! But, I’m jumping ahead to step 2. Consider it a little sneak peak. Can you tell that I’m a person who always peaks at the end of a book to see what happens? My daughter hates that. Shiny things……. Back to taking responsibility for our feelings.
Ok, so what about situations that happen to us that aren’t our choosing? Maybe you have someone you love who has cancer. Cancer sucks. There is no way to sugarcoat that. It sucks. They didn’t ask for it. You didn’t ask for it. You can’t be happy about it. You will never be ok with them getting cancer. It’s not only ok to be mad or scared, or lost it’s natural. But you can break up some of that sadness, anger and frustration and replace it with peace. And it all starts with acknowledging your feelings. You have to start by saying “I’m scared….. I’m mad…..I’m anxious…. but I’m going to work to bring more peace to my life.”
Please understand that when I say you’re responsible for your own feelings, I don’t mean that you want to feel that way or that you choose to feel that way. A lot of times things happen where there is no way for you to feel anything but sad or mad or angry or whatever. That’s ok. Nothing wrong with that. You have every right in the world to feel that way and it’s ok. But you won’t be happy or at peace when you’re feeling that way. Everybody wants peace and happiness – not everybody has the courage to say “I’m taking responsibility for my thoughts and feelings and I am going to work to bring peace to my life”. You could. You could be the person who chooses to break up those negative feelings so they can be replaced with positive. The change may be small at first, but it will grow. I promise you! You can do this! You have the strength and now you are learning the steps to take. The first step is always acknowledging any feeling you have. If you are feeling happy and peaceful say “I’m so grateful and proud of myself for the peace in my life” If it’s a negative emotion just say “I’m feeling ________________ but, I’m going to work to bring peace into my life.”
Now you’re ready for step 2!
If you have any questions or comments, just let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Wishing you much peace,