Part of being an emotional adult is taking responsibility for our own emotions. Even in our marriage. It is not our partners responsibility for making us feel loved, secure, and happy. We have to do that for ourselves. Listen in to find out how…
So today we are going to talk about how to quit blaming others for how you feel. So in the world of life coaching we call this emotional childhood vs. emotional adulthood.
As children, most of us were taught that we can make others feel a certain way. We’ve probably inadvertently taught that to our children as well
“Don’t do that or Mommy will be sad”
“We need to share so that Sally’s feelings won’t be hurt”
“You need to invite Johnny to your party so that he doesn’t feel left out”
So all of these little things taught us (and we in turn teach our children) that we have control over how someone else feels by what we say or how we act.
So if we have power over someone else’s emotions, people can have power over ours as well, right?
We believed that whatever is happening in our lives in the cause of our pain rather than being aware of the thoughts that we are thinking that are creating these emotions in us.
But if you remember in our model (which I teach in Episode 17) our thoughts come from our circumstances, and that is what gives us our emotions.
But, as children we were not taught this or taught how to understand our own emotions or how to deal with them.
So even as adults we react to our emotions, act out, or avoid emotions, rather that taking full responsibility for them and choosing thoughts that will create the emotions we want to experience.
Essentially as adults we are still functioning as emotional children. This is what we call Emotional Childhood.
So much of what we have learned in this life is how to avoid pain. We use things to “buffer” away our feelings – food, shopping, pornography, sex, netflix, social media, exercise, work, etc.
The only way to achieve emotional maturity or Emotional Adulthood is through self-responsibility.
So what does that mean? What does Emotional Adulthood entail?
- We take control of our own thoughts and don’t blame other people for our emotions or the results we are getting in our life.
- Take responsibility for our own pain and also for our own joy
- Not expect others to make us happy
- Not expecting others to make us feel secure.
- Appreciating that we are the only ones who can hurt our feelings, and that we can do that with our own thoughts.
And we need to do this at all times!
No wonder it feels like such hard work to begin thinking about our own thinking and realize that we can actually choose how went to feel, no matter what other people do or say.
This is awesome news, because this means we have power over our own lives. When we blame someone else for how we are feeling, we are handing our power over to another person. Handing over that power makes us dependent on that person for how we feel…a dependent is otherwise known as a child. But when we understand that we are in charge of how we feel because of our thoughts, we get to take all that power back.
So let me give you an example –
I have a client who has quite a temper. When he gets stressed out at work, he likes to blame everyone else for his frustration and anger. He does NOT like to take responsibility for it. It’s always someone else’s fault that he is angry. This is so disempowering! He’s handing over control of his emotions to someone else. But really, his emotions are coming from his thoughts about what is happening at work. And if he would take responsibility for those thoughts, realize that he gets to control his thoughts and therefore how he feels about what is happening, then he gets all of his power back. Now, he may still choose to be angry about the situation, but understanding that the anger is coming from his thoughts and not blaming the other person, he is still acting like an Emotional Adult.
So when applying this to marriage – we are often looking to our spouse to make us feel loved, secure, sexy, and happy. But as we know, how we feel comes from our thoughts. And no one can make us THINK certain things, all of our thoughts are a choice. So if we want to think thoughts about being loved, secure, sexy, and happy, then we have to choose to purposely think those thoughts and that is what will make us feel that way.
But because we tend to think that our partner can make us feel these things, this is why traditional therapy often doesn’t work. You sit down in a room with your spouse and the therapist says “ok tell your spouse your needs in this marriage and vice versa, and then the spouse is supposed to do what they can to meet your needs to make you happy. But it never does, because they never can. You are the only one who can meet your needs. You are the only one who can choose your thoughts to make you feel how you want to feel. Your spouse, even if they are trying, will never be able to meet your needs. They may make it EASIER for you to think thoughts that make you feel loved, and secure, and happy. But you are the ONLY one that can think the thoughts to make you feel that way.
A couple sits down in marriage counseling and the the therapist says
“Ok – wife, I want you to list all the things that make you feel loved and secure in this marriage”
- I need you to tell me you love me every day
- I need you to bring me flowers
- I need you to tell my I am beautiful
- I need you to come home from work and help me with the kids
If you do all that you will make me feel loved and secure. And the husband says…”ok..I can do that”
– And he tells hers “I love you” every day
Now she can choose to think
“Oh, he does love me” and she feels loved
or she could think “well he’s only telling me he loves me because I told him to” and then she doesn’t feel love – she feels resentment and anger
See how her choice of what she thinks impact how she feels even if he does the exact same things???
So if everyone is responsible for how they feel, does that mean we can say or do whatever we want? Are we responsible for how we treat our spouse and others? Ultimately how they feel is on them, right?
Even though you aren’t responsible for someone else’s feelings, you are still responsible for how you behave. It’s up to you to decide how you want to show up in the world.
Being an emotional adult is hard. It definitely takes more work and more effort. But it really is worth it.
Taking the step to manage ourselves and our minds so we aren’t dependent on other people for how we feel is awesome! Because that is how we can truly be happy.