Just as I’ve said that we can’t put the responsibility for our feelings on others, by the same token, I can’t take responsibility for someone else’s feelings.
There are some interesting implications to that.
For instance, all that time I spend feeling guilty for “hurting someone’s feelings” is time wasted. I’m not saying that I think we shouldn’t be aware of others’ feelings. I’m not promoting insensitivity or callousness or meanness.
What I am promoting is the idea that I am not responsible for your feelings. Your response or reaction to my behavior is just that – yours.
That said, I do believe that we can learn what behaviors lead others to feel certain ways, and choose to behave or not behave in those ways.
And yet, I can’t spend all my time thinking about how my behavior affects you. More importantly, I can’t go back and change the way you feel.
Have you ever known someone who – no matter what you did – always seemed to get upset with you? Always blamed you for what you did, didn’t do, or the way in which you did or didn’t do it?
Sadly, too many of us use our (supposed) feelings as weapons and tools to manipulate others.
- You hurt me
- You made me angry
- I only did it because I knew that you would be upset if I didn’t
- Why are you so mean?
Guilt, manipulation, control.
So what happens when I say “I’m not responsible for your feelings. How about if you take responsibility for your feelings, I take responsibility for mine, and we talk about why you’re upset about this?”
Of course, I wouldn’t say it quite so directly. 😉 I’d probably do a STATE thing.
The point is, I believe that being a mature human being, being an “adult”, means taking responsibility. I take responsibility for my feelings, for my behavior, and for being committed to my relationships. Relationships include any situation in which I have a connection with another human being, no matter how close or distant.