Healing comes from taking responsibility: to realize that it is you - and no one else - that creates your thoughts, your feelings, your actions.
— Peter Shepherd
Are you trying to say that I am responsible for my own pain?
Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to say. You are the only one that can hurt yourself. This is the bittersweet truth… Some people won’t be happy with this message and will feel attacked. Probably they already stopped reading by now. Others feel empowered by this message. Doesn’t this mean you are also ultimately the person to choose whether or not to be hurt? Yes. And this means you have the freedom to choose your happiness. Isn’t that awesome?
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. In order to take full responsibility for your happiness you have to understand the mechanisms behind your own behavior. And even then, it is still a long journey. But understanding this simple truth is the start of a wonderful journey and I would love to help you getting closer to this understanding.
Let me start by telling you why I am writing about this topic. A couple of weeks ago, I was mediating between a couple that had recently broken up. I had talked to both of them individually and both blamed the other for being uncaring and/or mean. In other words: they blamed the other for their unhappiness. At the same time, they both still had feelings for the other and wanted to stop hurting each other.
I had hoped the conversation would make them put aside their pride and listen to each other. I should have known better! What I witnessed that evening really opened my eyes…
In fact, they both admitted that they were insecure and simply didn’t know how to react when the other made a negative remark. And most important: that this insecurity made them interpret any kind of remark as negative. They both admitted, they still loved each other and in fact missed each other!
But none of this information made its way to the other’s heart. It seemed like they didn’t want to hear these messages. As if they were immune to loving messages. The only messages they could hear was the blame and criticism. The conversation ended in a drama, full of tears and accusations.
What went wrong? Didn’t they both admit their insecurity and their love to one another? Couldn’t they see each other’s powerlessness when they acted mean or seemingly uncaring?
Initially, I was devastated. This all seemed so senseless. Why couldn’t they hear each other’s true messages? But then it started to dawn on me that I had witnessed how you first need to love yourself before you can let someone else love you. And most of all: how you can create your own happiness by loving yourself!
How you hurt yourself with your lack of self-love
I started to realize that they couldn’t hear the other’s message, because they simply didn’t love themselves. They didn’t hurt each other, they were hurting themselves! They both already had an internal negative script about themselves which they could hide and suppress in the first years of the relationship. But once the feelings of being in love faded away, the inner rejection started to grow stronger again.
And this is what happens to all of us. We falsely accuse our partners of inflicting these wounds and these feelings of rejection on us. Barely anyone acknowledges that these feelings were there before our partner came, often times felt in our relationship with parents, close friends or ex-partners.
When do we finally wake up to see that our pain comes from within? Instead of blaming other’s for triggering these feelings in us, we should start to thank them.
It sounds crazy, but they are basically handing us over the key to our happiness. By examining why we are triggered, we can solve our negative inner scripts and start taking ownership of our emotions.
As long as we blame other people for our feelings, we will never really solve the problem. First of all, because someone else will never be able to mend the wound we have inside. And secondly, because we simply won’t be able to feel the other’s love as long as we are insecure and hurt inside.
Without inner work we will always feel unloved. And we will continuously meet people that will trigger these wounds. It’s life’s way of saying: Please, attend to this wound! This cycle will continue until we choose to take action.
How to take responsibility
By closely examining how you react to the pain “someone else inflicts upon you”, you can start to uncover your wounds. Do you start to see patterns? Does your partner/friend/colleague treat you in a way your parents used to treat you? Do you still resent your parents for this treatment? What do the arguments with your loved ones reveal about you? Are you insecure? Do you consider yourself worthless? Are you afraid to express your anger? Why?
When you start approaching tensions with others in such a way, you are taking responsibility for your own feelings. Instead of blaming the other, you start to understand yourself. This is a tremendous act of self-love and will not only improve your relationship with yourself, but with everyone else.
You will soon start to see how others are just as wounded as you are. This will not only make it easier for you to understand others, but will also prevent you from taking their behavior towards you personally. Verbal attacks won’t be aggravated by a counter attack from your part. To the contrary. You will create a loving, non-judgmental environment in which the other can feel free to express his true feelings.
Taking responsibility for your feelings is a very difficult task. It is definitely not something anyone expects you to master instantly. Please, don’t beat up on yourself when you automatically go back to blaming and criticizing others or yourself.
Even more important: Don’t beat up on yourself if you feel hurt. Feeling hurt is very natural and normal. It should be felt and accepted. The pain is never the problem. The story behind the pain is. The (self-) blaming and (self-) criticism is. You will always feel pain, but by dropping the negative stories you will soon notice the pain comes less frequently and less intense.
The journey to self-love is a long one. But at the same time it is the most beautiful journey you can ever embark on! Take over the reins and enjoy the ride! 🙂