*This post is a continuation from last week’s discussion on boundaries.
In talking about boundaries, one of the important things that we must understand is that while I can care about the feelings of another, I must not try to control the feelings of another. After all, we can’t make someone feel something. As I was reading a few weeks ago, I came across this quote and immediately highlighted it:
If a primary concern in your relationship is an authentic responsiveness to how you impact each other, you will have a pretty good life. Note that I don’t mean responsiveness in the sense of an overly responsible codependent: “Am I making everyone happy? Everyone’s happiness is my responsibility, and when someone is unhappy, I caused that.” That is not what we’re going for. There is a big difference between caring about how you impact someone and taking full responsibility for the other person’s feelings and happiness in life. You are an influence, and those in your life influence you. Influence doesn’t connote ownership. -Beyond Boundaries, p. 164
When we engage in people pleasing behaviors or don’t allow the person to express their feelings (even if we don’t like them), we move into trying to own someone’s feelings. One question I like to ask clients is “How does it feel when someone tries to control your feelings or doesn’t let you feel what you are feeling”? It feels gross, is frustrating, and it starts to mess with our relationship with that person. We do not own someone else’s feelings, but, in our relationships, we do have an impact on one another.
Moving forward, be responsible for the impact you make (your words and behavior), but don’t try to be responsible for someone else’s feelings. We are influences, we do not own…
Now it’s your turn to share: What’s difficult about letting go of the ownership we feel over another’s feelings? What makes it difficult to own our own feelings?