Other People’s Feelings are Not Your Problem
I recently reflected on why it’s important for women to stop feeling guilty for choosing ourselves. Throughout a big part of...
I recently reflected on why it’s important for women to stop feeling guilty for choosing ourselves. Throughout a big part of my life, that guilt (often doubled with shame, anxiety, or fear) stood in the way of what I really wanted.
It kept me small. Silent. Like it does with so many other women. And for good reason.
We’ve been conditioned to think that we must bear the weight of the world on our shoulder, and do so with a smile, simply because it comes with the territory of being a woman. However – as I reflected in my previous article, incorporating values, and nurturing healthy boundaries will call on you to take responsibility for your own life, to demand more for yourself, to have more self-respect, and ensure that others do not trample on it.
These rituals will lead you to realize that while it’s your responsibility to control your emotions and direct your life down the path you want it to go, it’s not your responsibility to do the same for anyone else. This will be a hard concept for many women to grasp, but as you grow into self-love and self-trust it will become easier.
When you enforce your boundaries, you take your power back.
You’re not Superwoman. Your duty isn’t to save the world. It’s not even to save your loved ones. Your duty – if ever there was one – is to be a caring and loving human. That’s all anyone could ask for. Even so, in the past, I often felt it was my responsibility to be the everything of the people in my private, and professional life. Perhaps you do to…
Making sure everyone around you is happy – at all times
Show the world how capable, reliable, always willing to help you are.
Never come across as too busy, or too tired
Especially not when you are – in fact – exhausted, stressed out, ready for a really long nap.
As you commit yourself to living your truths – making your own decisions, pursuing your dreams, creating your own path – you’re going to upset some people. In fact, you’re going to upset A LOT of people, especially if what you’re going for is bold and unimaginable to them. That’s precisely when you have to remind yourself: how others feel about who you are, the way you live your life, or what your dreams are is not your business.
You are not in charge of other people’s feelings.
Like me, you may have been socialized to believe that as a woman you exist to bring some kind of joy, support, care (insert expectation of choice here) to others, based on the roles society has tried to box you into. Understanding that you’re not responsible for anyone’s happiness but your own is a liberating experience. Often we don’t realize how the people around us suck the joy out of us when you overextend ourselves for them, breaking our back to be at their every beck and call. Living this way will drain you. I know, because I’ve been there.
It may take some time for people to come around to the fact they’re not somebody else’s problem but their own. In some cases they never will, and you’ll have to walk away, or see them leave when you no longer *make them happy* (in my experience often used as code speak to say you’re no longer able or willing to cater to their every need). Again, believe me, I know.
How to stop making other people’s feelings your responsibility?
- When people start demanding that you do things their way or blame you for how they feel or how their lives are, you don’t need to respond to them. This is a hard one for any people-pleaser, isn’t it? So if you feel the urge to go there, the conversation should be about boundaries, personal responsibility, and freedom. Not about what they need from you, or how you’re lacking in giving it to them. Because, well, it’s NOT your responsibility.
- Sometimes when people ask unreasonable things of you and have grandiose expectations, you may become so overwhelmed that you simple react instead of respond. It can help to ask yourself some questions: is what they’re asking something you would expect them to do for you? Is it fair to yourself to say yes when you know you should (and totally could) say no?
- When you’re being tested, remember to breathe and allow your emotions to flow through you. Oftentimes you’ll feel guilt, shame, or fear when you’re being put on the spot for someone else’s feelings. Don’t fixate on any thought. Instead, give yourself time to process what’s happening, and simply *pause*. It’s important to guard your heart and protect your soul. After all, you are YOUR OWN responsibility.
Not making other people’s feelings your responsibility requires courage, dedication, and discipline. I’ve been practicing this kind of detachment for a long time, yet I still fall back into my old ways so easily. Affirming my boundaries and being true to myself helps me to bounce back quickly, and recognize the signs when guilt or shame show up.
In the end, what works best is to remind ourselves that we’re responsible for how we’re feeling. Nothing more. But always.
Making that your priority will be so liberating. I promise
I’d love to what your experience has been with other people’s feelings. Let me know in the comments below.