People often say, “That made me feel terrible,” or “He or she made me feel terrible.” I’m here to say that it is impossible for anyone or anything to make you feel anything, unless you choose to feel that way.
Feelings are based on thoughts. Think of your thoughts like sentences in the brain. When you feel a certain way, it is because you have developed a descriptive sentence – “He made me feel terrible.” In reality, you chose to feel terrible by telling yourself that what someone else did was prescriptive of how you were to feel. This is like giving away your power to someone else.
Don’t delegate your power over how you feel. Assume your rightful ownership. How you feel and the sentences that you write are up to you.
Someone does something mean, selfish, or unkind, but that doesn’t make you feel anything. It is the thought behind what they have said or done that you assign meaning to. It is this thought that will drive your actions and your behavior.
“But you don’t understand how bad they treated me.”
It doesn’t matter. This is simply a circumstance. A circumstance is what exists or is perceived, but it is not the end all be all – your thoughts are.
Your thoughts are the beginning which determine your end result, so why not choose thoughts that serve you better?
“They were so rude.”
Okay, so that was the circumstance. Your thoughts determine how you feel and your actions will follow. If you believe that someone was rude, how do you act? Do you treat them kindly or do you snap back in defense? If you chose the latter, why? Will it change how you feel? Not likely. It’s very likely that you will go on angry and irritated, replaying the scene in your mind; but does it get you anywhere?
Motivational speaker and author Wayne Dyer would use the illustration of an orange. During a presentation he would hold up an orange and say, “If I squeeze this orange, what would come out?” He recalls a little girl, matter-of-factly stating, “Orange juice. Duh!”
He would then explain that what comes out is what’s inside, yes, orange juice. We wouldn’t expect grape juice or apple juice from an orange. Only what is inside can come out. Our emotions drive our actions based on the thoughts that we are having. If we choose to harbor ill feelings and anger, what’s inside? Ill feelings and anger – what comes out? Ill feelings and anger.
Look, you can’t change other people. That’s their job. You can’t stop an alcoholic from drinking unless that person makes the choice and has that thought, just as you can’t stop rudeness unless that person decides to think differently – their juice is just coming out! Are your words going to magically change their juice?
We try so hard to control what we can’t control, when what we can control is where true power and peace reside!
We choose to feel terrible based on others, when truly we can choose to not be fazed. We can choose to learn from the experience. If a person cuts you off on the freeway, what is you getting upset going to do? The circumstance of them cutting you off does not automatically make you do or feel anything, unless you choose for it to do so.
“But I think it automatically,” you say?
Then it’s time to supervise your thoughts and actually think on purpose and not by default or on auto-pilot if you want to get to thoughts that serve you better - Better juice starts with better fruit.
Instead of getting angry when someone cuts you off, recognize how you instantly feel – you might feel angry – acknowledge that feeling and develop a new sentence in your brain. I don’t like when people cut me off, I’m not going to drive like that. See how you shifted the power to something that you can do something about? This takes practice because of well-worn neuro-pathways in the brain, but through repetitively thinking productive thoughts, on purpose, you can retrain your brain to think better.
We can make conscious decisions, better decisions, if we monitor our thoughts and take control and ownership of how we feel at any moment. Wouldn’t it feel better to feel in control and how you want? Only you can make this happen.
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.