We grow up in a society that is used to deny the responsibility of our actions. Instead of assuming that we are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions, we blame others or the circumstances for our feelings and actions. “You make me feel this way” or “I feel this because you…” are examples of a complete denial of responsibility.
The mechanism of denial of responsibility for our feelings is also ingrained in the collective as a method of manipulation by guilt. The basic mechanism of motivating by guilt is to attribute the responsibility for one’s own feelings to others. Our language facilitates the use of many guilt-inducing tactics, like “You make me feel bad.” or “It hurts me when you…” or “You make me angry”.
This belief is so ingrained into collective behavior that when it is pointed out, we use to feel offended and argue with angry denial, clever arguments and self-justification to distort the facts. When all else fails, the ego will resort to shouting or even physical violence.
We are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. What others say and do may be the stimulus, but never the cause of our feelings. We see that our feelings result from how we choose to receive what others say or do, as well as our particular needs and expectations in that moment.
Remember, it’s not what other people do that can hurt you, it’s how you take it. So nobody is responsible for your feelings. As you can see, two people might hear the same words and see the same things, yet only one becomes angry.
For example, if someone arrives late for an appointment and you need reassurance that she cares about you, you may feel hurt. If, instead, your need is to spend time purposefully and constructively, you may feel frustrated. If, on the other hand, your need is for thirty minutes of quite solitude, you may be grateful for her tardiness and feel pleased. Thus, it is not the behavior of the other person, but our own needs that causes our feelings.
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Transcending the belief that someone else or the circumstances are the cause of our feelings is a big step into a higher level of maturity and inner connection.
As Eckhart Tolle pointed it, “Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts and feelings about it.” William Shakespeare beautifully pointed, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”