You Made Me Feel This Way!

How could they make me feel this way!

I was sitting up late last week, after an intense conversation, based on something that had happened between me and another person. I had done and said some things after they had done and said some things… and the spiral had begun. Down into the darkness I spun, I danced, I wavered and I fell.

How dare they make me feel like crap?

Why do I even bother?

The spiral dove deep… and then I caught it. I caught the thought, and realized that the question wasn’t accurate.

They did not make me feel this way.

I did.

My feelings are my own. He may have said certain things, or done specific behaviors. Those were his. I may have thought that those words and behaviors were inappropriate for the situation, and that they challenged my beliefs and thoughts about a number of things. But the feelings… those were based on my internal reactions to those actions and thoughts… and he did not “do” a feeling to me.

This is argued in the ABC Model of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as:

  • Activating Event – the actual event and the immediate interpretations of the event
  • Beliefs about the event – this evaluation can be rational or irrational
  • Consequences – how you feel and what you do or other thoughts

Oftentimes, I hear these sorts of words.  Even from myself.  A lot from myself. That our partners make us feel horrible. That our partners make us feel great. Neither is true.

It does not matter if the feeling is positive or negative. The feeling IS. And, the feeling is ours.

You did not make me feel angry. I feel angry. Note the difference.

You did not make me  feel happy. I feel happy. Note the difference.

And, in turn:

You did not make your partner feel angry. They are angry. Note the difference.

You did not make your partner feel happy. They are happy. Note the difference.

Oh, did you do something that led through their thoughts, beliefs and internal systems that led to them having an emotional reaction… that may be likely. But that is not yours. That is theirs.

Can you learn what their common responses are to specific inputs… that may be likely. But their emotions are still theirs.

My emotions are mine.

I pause on the hill. I cry.  I sit with this fact. I breathe deep. I acknowledge that I feel sorrow, anger, fear. Sorrow over words said in both directions. Anger that words were said in the first place. Fear that such things could happen again.

I pause on the hill, and stare up at the stars.

These emotions are mine.

You did not make me feel this way.

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Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

5 Comments:

  1. The part of this equation that I find often gets left out is that we are responsible for our own actions. I’ve had people use the “your feelings are your own” or “I’m not responsible for your feelings” against me, when they have knowingly done something which was a direct cause to my feelings, and that outcome is predicted and warranted. Owning your own emotions is important, but so is owning ones actions, and knowing that actions have reactions.

    Not saying that you don’t know this, Lee, but putting this here because I think it’s an important part of the puzzle with this, and because there are those predatory folk out there who are aware of the “own your own shit” deal, and twist it and use it as a weapon.

  2. Elspeth- this is what I just replied to someone else on another thread. Perhaps it will clarify my position on the issue.

    Whether you feel happy, sad, grateful, rageful, or ambiguous about being sexually violated (an emotion), having someone rape you is still a heinous crime and WRONG (an action).

  3. @Elspeth The only actions you can control and own are yours. The ultimate prescription for misery is to concern yourself with the rightness or wrongness of someone else’s actions. You can decide to call out a person’s actions as unacceptable to you, and you can choose whether to tolerate them or move along. Nobody can use owning your emotions against you unless you allow it. To insist that another is a predator because they ‘predictably’ ’caused’ your feelings, and THEY need to ‘own’ that for you is to miss the point entirely. The only way that can be a weapon is if you are standing there and resisting it. Stop doing one or the other and you stop being a victim.

  4. @Lee We crossed each other posting. I would not say that a person’s actions can’t BE wrong,and clearly in that example, they are. only that fixating on another person’s responsibility for your feelings, missed the point that they are yours to manage, and in many,if not most or all, cases, choose.

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