Just because someone decides to act offensively does not mean that I need to be offended.
There is one point I’d like to make in this episode and this is it, “Just because someone decides to act offensively does not mean that I need to be offended.” This is an unbelievably liberating idea. Whenever we get offended, we can try and fix the situation in one of two ways. We can try and force the offender to stop being so offensive. Simply put, we can try and change them. That leaves us with an endless number of people to try and change while knowing that we really don’t have any control over them. The other approach is to learn not to get offended. I hope you don’t get offended by this, however, the healthier we are the less often we get offended. So which road do you choose to go on?
Many times we see emotions in the context of cause and effect. Or in the modern day lingo, IFTTT, if this then that. If you tell me I’m ugly, I feel insulted. If you call me baldy, which in my case would actually be very accurate, I feel hurt. If you call me a racist, I feel devalued. Believe that our emotions are the effect of what others say or think about us is one of the most disempowering and crushing beliefs. It destroys our individuality and our responsibility toward self-determination. The natural effect of this belief is that you become responsible for me. I am no longer responsible for myself because I don’t control my own feelings, you do.
I like the descriptive analogy of an owner walking a dog. When you see someone walking their dog on a leash, it is very clear as to “who is the master and who is the slave,” so to speak. The leash is tied around the dog’s neck and the owner, holding the other end of the leash, can pull as he pleases. Every time that I permit someone to change my emotional state by what they say or think, it is as if I’ve tied a leash around my neck and handed the other end of the leash to that person. I am essentially telling them they have full control of my emotions. In fact, this is the way we verbalize ourselves when we believe this. We say, “He made me feel.” “She made me feel.” “You always make me feel.” Under such conditions, we have no control. It is other people who decide how I’m going to feel today.
Perhaps the worst damage that comes from such thinking is giving up our responsibility and self-determination. Every single one of us was created to be a cause, not an effect. This is what makes human beings unique. We are the only creation that has a fully developed internal system which permits us to override our instincts. We are fully capable of having thoughtful emotions, meaning, emotions that are generated after a thought process. We do not have to be a victim of instinctive emotions, meaning, emotions that are generated by our instincts. This is essentially the difference between humans and animals. It is due to this human ability that we hold human beings to a very high level of accountability. Why? Because they can. We cannot hold someone accountable for that which is beyond their ability.
So when we go through life feeling like our emotions are the effect of others, we are giving up our humanity. We are giving up our uniqueness. We are giving up our responsibility. We are giving up our ability to determine what our lives are going to be dedicated to and focusing on that. We are essentially deconstructing the human being.
The classic example of this is when a child pushes the buttons of their parent. When a parent responds and says, “Why do you always make me so upset,” what does the child learn from this situation? The first thing the child learns is that they have control over their parent’s feelings. Which is why children become an expert at pushing their parent’s buttons. In the vision for a moment a child holding on to the end of the leash which is wrapped around their parent’s neck. I know it sounds pretty graphic but it’s not such an uncommon scene. True the leash is invisible but that is exactly what we are seeing when a child is always the cause of their parent’s feelings.
What do you think a child would do if they did not get the emotional reaction that is so common? What do you think would happen if as parents we didn’t say, “You always make me….” Even more importantly, imagine what would happen if we didn’t get into an emotional state when our children push our buttons. They would immediately recognize that their parents are self-determined individuals. I cannot control how they feel, they decide how they feel. And even more importantly, the parent would be a beautiful example of how one must go through life as an independent and self-determined individual.
Another classic example is when we tell our spouse that we’re in a bad mood because of what they said or did. When we don’t own our feelings, it brings a level of instability into the relationship. This is simply because the more unstable our emotions are the more unstable our relationship will be. The more our emotional state is controlled by others, more unstable our emotions will be. The more stable our emotions are, the more stable our relationships become.
There’s no question that hardly a person is in full control of how they feel without being affected at all by others. However, we can most definitely improve where we are on the spectrum and this can have a far greater impact on our lives than almost anything else. Millions of dollars cannot give someone the inner peace and stability achieved when we improve ownership of our emotions. Most importantly, we cannot bring our light to the world as long as we permit others to hold it back by a leash.
So once again, I remind you of this. “Just because someone decides to act offensively does not mean that I need to be offended.” It’s your choice to try and change all of the offenders or simply work on improving yourself. Which do you choose?