Do your make choices based upon how other people might feel?
Tiptoeing around other people’s potential feelings is like wearing a straight-jacket while walking through a mine field.To successfully navigate this mine field, you have to correctly guess what the other person will feel. Since it’s based on a future that you can’t predict, that’s probably going to fail.Then you have to guess what action would make them happy. Again, it’s based on speculation, so the odds of success may be 50/50 at best.If you guess right, your actions will produce a pleasing outcome for them, but what about you? What does that cost you? And does that always align with what you want?
How Burdening Yourself With Other People’s Feelings Hurts You
Taking responsibility for other people’s feelings comes from a caring place. But ultimately it hurts you.
This is about avoiding pain
We don’t want to let someone down, so we say yes when we don’t want to to avoid sitting with their disappointment or feeling our own feelings.We overcommit because we want them to like us because we don’t want to feel rejection.We anticipate their needs so we avoid having them direct their irritation and anger at us.We lie about how we feel or what we’ve done to avoid the possible pain of abandonment or judgment.
While we may put up a front that we’re caring people, we’re really looking out for ourselves and our own needs. Only this isn’t a very effective way to do that.
When our internal equilibrium depends upon someone else’s happiness or positive feelings towards us, that puts the power for our happiness in someone else’s hands. And it’s always in a precarious position.
The first thing “Jasper” did after work was kiss his wife on the cheek and ask her how she was doing. He didn’t realize it, but he was taking the temperature of the room so that he could prioritize what needed to be done first.
If “Melissa” was fine, he could spend some time with the kids before making dinner.
If she was in an emotional state, he focused on calming her down or making her laugh. He knew that “the hand that rocked the cradle is the hand that rules the world,” so nothing would be right until mom was right.
Jasper just thought that this is what a good partner does. It’s how he felt needed and valued.
Meet Your own needs
How This Can Get Better
Tell the Truth
Jasper didn’t always want to take care of Melissa. He sometimes felt taken advantage of. He sometimes needed attention. When he began to say these things, he felt more empowered, respected, and permitted to have his needs and feelings. He felt more human.
Meet Your Own Needs
It wasn’t easy, but Jasper began to meet his own needs first. So when he did say “yes” to things, he could do it without resentment or feeling used. He had the energy to follow through cheerfully. This made a difference in how he showed up, and he liked it.
Feel Your Feelings
The hardest part of healing was for Jasper to feel his feelings. He learned to tolerate disappointment without taking it personally. He could see other struggle without feeling like he had to rush in and make it better. He learned to trust that things would not fall apart if he wasn’t on high alert all the time. So, he felt more ease in his life and more competent as a partner and person.
Allow Others to Feel Their Feelings
Other people may have feelings about what you do, think, say, and feel. It’s okay. You don’t have to agree. It doesn’t have to be happy all the time. Allowing it to be honest and true helps to you have real intimacy.
It’s hard to go through life carrying the emotional load for other people. When you let go of that burden, they can learn to carry it just like you have. This makes both people stronger and healthier partners. So, why not give it a try?