A Happiness Journey

Are you emotionally mature??

This wasn’t what I was planning on writing about today, but art imitates life, so I’m going to carry on using you all to exorcise my own personal demons, and hopefully in the meantime, maybe share something that resonates with you?


I won’t go into the details but right now, in my life, there is someone who is triggering me. I found myself laying in bed at 6am this morning seething to myself. I’ve been seething to myself for quite sometime because this person is doing something and it’s causing me to feel annoyed. I then spent a considerable amount of time rehearsing in my head all the things I could say to this person to try and get them to stop doing the things that are annoying me. Now, one of the things I love about my relationship with the universe is that I always gives me what I need (not always what I want but that’s something different). I took my dogs out for a walk, put on a podcast, and the podcaster was talking about emotional maturity and how easily we give our power away to other people. That got me thinking about my own personal situation.


No one teaches us how to be emotionally mature, we just get to 18, someone pins a badge to us telling us we’re an adult now, and all of a sudden we’re supposed to just know how to behave and how to manage our emotions.


But the truth is, we haven’t even been set up for that. Think back to primary school.


“Now Sally, you need to apologise to Johnny because you hurt his feelings”


“Johnny, when you do something mean, it’s not very nice, and it makes Sally feel bad”


The reason we do this is because a child’s brain doesn’t have the ability to decipher emotions the way an adult can so we try to explain it to them in a way that we think they’ll understand. The problem is that no one then pulls us aside in High School to teach us the correct way of taking responsibility for our own emotions and so we grow up in a victim mentality. A lot of people will bristle at the word ‘Victim’ but we all do it. It’s so ingrained into us we don’t even realise we’re doing it. We blame the government, the state of the world, we blame our parents, our spouses, and our upbringings. We even blame the weather. When we’re miserable, or annoyed, or having a bad day, it’s usually the fault of someone or something else. And when we blame something or someone else we are giving our power away. We are relieving ourselves of any responsibility and we are placing full control of our emotions into the unsafe hands of someone else. Sounds like a solid plan when you put it like that right?? Errrr….. ☹


Brene Brown beautifully stated that “Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain.  It has an inverse relationship with accountability.  Accountability, by definition, is vulnerability. Blaming is corrosive in relationships. It’s simply a way we discharge anger.  We spend our energy figuring out whose fault it is.  It’s one of the reasons we miss opportunities for empathy, because when something happens, instead of listening to the story, we’re quickly making connections in our mind to figure out whose fault it was. It gives us a sense of control. “


Other people don’t make us feel stuff. It’s our thoughts about what the other person has said or done that makes us feel the thing. The minute you give credit to the other person for making you feel something, even something positive, you have given your power away and become a victim. The beautiful thing about that though, is that you have the choice, in any given moment, to choose how you’re going to feel. You get to take responsibility for your own emotions and you get to choose what you are going to think about the other person, and how you are going to choose to respond. That means, that if you want to, you have the capacity for joy at all times. You just might not want joy at all times, because let’s be honest, that would be weird too.


As adults we have the cognitive capability to be able to understand what we’re thinking, decide to think something different, and in doing so, affect how we feel in any given moment. Realising that our thoughts create our emotions, our emotions dictate our actions, and our actions drive the results in our lives is probably the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. Understanding this model brings us into emotional adulthood by recognising that we have full responsibility for our own lives. Every single aspect of it. Even the super shitty parts. This is why many billionaires are miserable, famous people kill themselves, and some of the poorest countries in the world have the highest reported levels of happiness. Because we get to choose how we are going to think, feel and respond about every single thing.


Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy. My opening paragraph clearly shows I have not yet completely mastered this lesson, merely got to grips with the theory of it.


When we give another person control over our emotions we are giving them something precious. We are giving them our sanity and our happiness. We are taking this beautiful special part of our soul and we’re entrusting it to them, whether they’ve asked for it or not. When we get married we approach our new husband or wife and we say “these are my needs, it is now your job to meet them. From now on everything you do and say will directly impact how I feel, so I’m gonna need you consider me, at all times, before you say or do anything and don’t mess it up because there will be hell to pay if you do.” The problem with giving your needs to another person is that then you need to control them. We need to tell them constantly what to do and how to do it, and if they don’t we get mad, because everything they do controls everything that we feel. I don’t know about you but I have a terribly hard time managing my own needs and controlling my own actions and emotions, so now it seems like the most preposterous thing in the world to expect to be able to do that for someone else, or have them do it successfully for me. And yet, that’s what I’ve been doing all my life. I now know that delegating that responsibility to someone I love will affect my relationship with them in a deeply painful way.


I now understand that I am responsible, 100% responsible 100% of the time, for my happiness, for my thoughts, for my actions and for my reactions. Acting from a place of Emotional Adulthood doesn’t mean that we just get to flippantly disregard everybody’s feelings and do whatever the hell we want, because we are now taking full responsibility for our actions. So when we do something we’re not proud of, or that we regret, it is also our responsibility to own up to that and apologise. Just because you’re not responsible for how they feel, you are still responsible for how you behave and that’s really important. Taking responsibility over your own life and dropping your victimhood means that you get to decide the kind of human being  you want to be. And what a privilege. That being said, once you stop trying to control another person to behave in a certain way so that you can feel better, you naturally have no reason to be manipulative, cruel or reactive.


So the moral of this story, and the lesson that I took from my time, buried deep in my annoyance this morning, is that, they get to do, say and behave any way they damn well please, as do I. The ONLY person I can control is myself. It is not my responsibility to manage them in any way, however it is entirely my responsibility to choose how I’m going react to them and how I’m going to feel around them. It is not for me to manage their feelings, and It’s not for them to manage mine. That’s not to say that I can’t make suggestions to them on their behaviour, as long as I understand that they don’t have to follow those suggestions and that is their right. Whether I choose then, to keep those people in my life or not is my choice and my right.


Own your feelings, take your power back.

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