Let’s say you make a remark to a friend or colleague and you see their facial expression change… then they abruptly excuse themselves and leave the room. What happened? What are they thinking? Your mind starts creating story after story around what you think they might be thinking and feeling about what you said. Are they angry? Were they offended? Wait, what did I say? Was that okay to say? Did I make them feel uncomfortable? What do they think of me? It goes on and on. Your stomach starts doing flips and your palms get sweaty. OH NO!
You finish your work and you’re driving home later and you’re still thinking about it. You send a text message – keeping it light, just touching base but NOT asking about “you-know-what”… ending with “hope you’re all good!” - then they don’t respond. You keep checking your phone but still, nothing. Now your mind is really off to the races. You painstakingly go back over details of the conversation leading up to your remark, you replay the remark over and over in your head. Was it WHAT you said or was it HOW you said it? You didn’t MEAN anything by it, it was just a comment in a casual conversation. Or was it?
As you’re brushing your teeth before bed it’s still on your mind… only now you’re no longer concerned about what you said – now you’ve decided your friend / colleague is a complete idiot for being upset for whatever reason because you didn’t mean to hurt their feelings or upset them…. Screw them! You go to bed angry and resentful at this person and decide from now on you’re just going to avoid them and keep your mouth shut because they’re obviously an over sensitive baby that can’t just have a casual conversation – you don’t need that kind of crap in your life.
You arrive at work the next morning and run into this person because you too are grabbing a cup of coffee. You internally roll your eyes and you wish you had stayed at your desk for 5 more minutes so you could avoid this confrontation. Your heart is pounding as you recall how pissed off you were about their stupid reaction yesterday – not to mention ghosting you on the text message when he / she turns to you and says – “I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your text yesterday afternoon, I’ve had a lot on my mind in the last few days – and I just haven’t been myself lately. Will you forgive me?”
All that energy wasted for nothing. All that time spent spinning thoughts around all the possible scenarios… how stressed it made you feel, upset stomach, shitty sleep… Not to mention the pre-planned passive aggressive behavior of avoiding them rather than confronting them about it and for what? Worrying about how someone else feels – something you literally have NO CONTROL over.
I’m going to let you in on a secret – you are not responsible for how anyone else feels.
Ahhh my dear fellow people pleaser. I used to waste my precious energy on doing the exact same thing. I would try and make someone feel better by taking over responsibility for their emotions. When I realized and internalized the truth that I’m only responsible for how I FEEL – that’s when I began to set myself free.
Everyone else around me chooses how THEY want to feel – really! Just like I can choose to feel peaceful and content knowing that what I say to friends or colleagues is coming from a place of truth and love – and you can too.
You can choose right now to stop taking responsibility for how everyone else feels. Set yourself free by knowing and trusting that you are a good person. If you check in with yourself honestly, you KNOW when your side of the street needs cleaning (meaning, you’re out of line) – and you’ll clean it. Otherwise, live and let live. You get to feel good as much as YOU WANT just like everybody else.