It is easy to blame other people for our emotions. “He makes me so angry! Why can’t he just pick up his shoes from the walkway!” “She disappointed me; I thought she was going to be more understanding.” When we say these kinds of things, then we don’t have to take responsibility for how we’re feeling. It’s the other person’s fault, not ours! They’re the bad person, they’re the ones doing it wrong, and if they could just get their act together then there wouldn’t be any problems, I wouldn’t be upset or hurt, and I wouldn’t have to yell at them or get upset with them or withdraw.
Do you see how that mindset makes other people responsible for our feelings? It can even go so far as to cast other people as responsible for our actions. “I know I can get upset and start yelling, but I can’t help myself! She’s just so infuriating!”
Blaming others, making them the responsible ones, means we’re off the hook. I don’t have to change, they do. But while that may look like freedom, it is actually a trap. If I am waiting for this other person to change so that I can be happy, I may be waiting a long time. In fact, that day may never come. They may never change. Will I be content with being miserable for a long time, or even forever? Is my only recourse to “fixing” this problem to leave and find someone else to make responsible for my emotions?
No. You are responsible for your emotions. No one else is. “I am angry because I want to get into the house safely without tripping, and I am feeling tired of having to talk to my partner about their shoes.” When we take responsibility for our own emotions then we have the power of choice. What can I do about this situation? Can I enter through a different door? Can I ask my partner to enter by a different door? Can I take an extra second each time I come into the house to slow down, look and see if there are shoes in the way, and if so, simply kick them out of the way?
If you want to feel differently, you can’t wait till someone else behaves in a new way. You need to change what you’re doing. You have so much more control and power over your own actions and behaviors. You have zero control and power over other people’s actions and behaviors. What can you change in yourself to change how you are feeling?
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.