I walked around for years and years saying this to others and letting others off the hook for being hurtful. I don’t remember the circumstances any longer, they don’t matter, but I do recall the conversation about this saying not being totally true. I told my supervisor that my feelings were hurt by something someone said or did followed by “I’m responsible for how I feel”. He looked me square in the eye and said, “Not always. Sometimes another person is responsible for how we feel.” I was taken aback prior to him explaining it to me. I should note now that this man is a licensed therapist in the state of California, so it’s not just an opinion.
We all have a responsibility for what we DO with our feelings, but not always what causes them. If another person behaves in a way that is intended to hurt us or make us feel bad, it’s THEIR responsibility when our feelings are hurt or we’re angry. Plain and simple. One of the great phrases I learned from this man is, “If your intention was to hurt my feelings, you succeeded”.
Talking to my brother today he told me that he knows I feel like he’s been rude and hurtful and bullied me, but he’s not responsible for how I feel. Hours later, I’m reminded of that conversation with my supervisor. I call bullshit.
Backhanded compliments are intended to make another person feel bad or less than. Disqualifying another’s education or career experience is intended to undermine them and make them feel less than. Gaslighting is intended to manipulate another to get what you want. Telling someone they don’t know what they’re talking about because they don’t agree with you is intended to harm and shut the other person down. Verbal threats and aggressive behavior are intended to control another person. Posturing is another of those aggressive, controlling behavior. All of these things fall into the category of what is considered emotional abuse. Each and every one of these things are intended to hurt another person and make them feel less than so they can control that person.
I’m writing this today because I’m reminded that I took responsibility for others abuse most of my life. I allowed others to break me down and use me to get what they wanted. I stayed in abusive relationships far too long. I took total responsibility for my reactions to long term abuse when I’d finally snap and get angry. I did these things because I didn’t know better.
Once again, I’m reminded of why I’ve had no contact with my family for so many years.