Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who's Responsible For Your Anger?
Have you ever held someone else accountable for how you feel? How many times have you said something like, “You make me so mad!” or, “You really hurt my feelings?” We give others far too much power over our emotional well-being and happiness. We blame others for how we feel rather that take responsibility for it ourselves. Most people don’t realize that we choose our emotions. That’s right: each of us has the ability to decide for ourselves exactly how we want to feel. My feelings are not dependant upon what another person is saying or doing. All feelings come from within. Outside events (my best friend forgets my birthday, my boss yells at me) are mere triggers. And what they trigger are thoughts. I see or hear something and I form a thought about it. All feelings come from thoughts. My best friend actually did forget my birthday this year. I had several choices here. I could think, “How rude of her! After 25 years of friendship that’s inexcusable.” Choosing these thoughts, I’d probably feel hurt, angry, disappointed, maybe even a bit resentful. If, on the other hand, I choose to think, “Well, it’s not a big deal. Everyone forgets sometimes. Besides, maybe her calendar broke.” Those thoughts are more likely to foster feelings of understanding, peace, and still being ok with her. The truth of why I didn’t receive acknowledgement is of no real importance when it comes to my feelings. What dictates how this situation affects me is solely about my perception (thought). I decide what I want to believe about her. If I want to be at peace with what has transpired, I need to choose thoughts that will generate those kinds of feelings. Even in the event that she deliberately ignored my birthday, I still decide how I view her and her behavior. I can be harsh and judgmental or understanding and forgiving. Each will evoke corresponding feelings. Either way, she is not making me feel angry. Anger, as with all other emotions, is my choice. No one can make me angry. Try this: the next time someone yells at you, rather than think “what a mean and nasty so-and-so!” switch your thoughts to “he sounds really upset about something” and see what happens to your feelings. A shift in thought generates a shift in feelings. Positive thoughts = positive feelings. Negative thoughts = negative feelings. It’s all up to you. And it’s that easy, really.