Once when I was around 12 years old, my Aunt Iris said something to me that “hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember what it was, but Iris was a smart, opinionated, outspoken woman and I’m sure it was nothing other than the bald truth.
Aunt Iris loved me and I knew it. She wouldn’t do or say anything of a negative nature toward me. Yet, I told her about what she said and how she hurt me. Instead of an apology, which I expected, my accusation was met with a surprise. “NO, I did not!” she exclaimed, looking me right in the eye. “I couldn’t possibly hurt your feelings.”
“But you did!” I replied.
“Impossible!” she said. “I don’t have one iota of control over your emotions and feelings. YOU are the only one with that power.”
What in the world? Why, this was simply stunning! Aunt Iris wasn’t taking responsibility for my feelings? She wasn’t even letting me make her wrong? Instead, she stood her ground. My little adolescent heart was hurt again. How dare her!!
But, Iris had just given me one of the greatest lessons for being emotionally balanced. She was teaching me on the spot that blaming others for the way I feel keeps me weak, powerless, and victimized. Since then, I’ve realized there is nothing anyone can say that can hurt my feelings. Which doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt over things that are said sometimes. It just means I can’t blame the other for saying them. If I’m hurt, it’s about me.
And—holy liberation—others are responsible for their own emotions, too! Their emotions are under their control, not mine. They only wish I’d take responsibility and blame, so they wouldn’t have to. Sound familiar?
Now, I’m not a TV watcher except for one twisted secret pleasure: Orange County Housewives. There. I admitted it. Maybe I find it a fascinating case study in human relations. Yes, that’s it! And those women are absolutely committed to keeping themselves victims in the YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS realm. They can’t see it because humans are well-adapted to blaming others for how they feel. The ladies of the OC play the victim, don’t take responsibility for themselves, and perpetuate weakness among women. (After all, how many men do you come across who accuse their friends of hurting their feelings? It appears to be a very female crutch.)
So what to do? Keep the following in mind.
Other people are allowed to comment, express themselves, and speak their minds, even when you believe it’s hurtful. Because in truth, there isn’t anything anyone else can say that can hurt you. You choose to feel hurt because you’re not accepting that what another person says is about them, and not you. Yes, they are trying to make it about you, and you might be at fault. They might be right. Even so, it’s absolutely fine for you to let others make comments and not let them affect you. Something nasty from another person comes from their pain and ignorance. Plain and simple.
So give it a try. Stay centered. Keep breathing. It’s not actually about YOU.
While we’re on the subject, stay tuned for more in the next Holistic Woman post where I’ll talk about 6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life.