Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thinking that truly changed my world

This post, although I've had plenty of time to think about it, is not entirely well thought out, and you may have to excuse me.

This post is part of Julie's Hump Day Hmm. She posted the topic early last week, but I had no chance to post on it, and Mr. Linky didn't arrive at her blog until yesterday, so I'm going to post on this anyway. I think it's a great topic, but my post has several facets to the same thinking that changed my mind, my ways, and in some ways, my life.

One thing that changed my thinking was that I'm in charge of my own feelings. Other people cannot and do not have the power to MAKE me mad. They can heckle me all they want, but they can only make me mad if I choose to get mad. They are not in charge of my feelings. I had a tough time in school, and the boys really worked to make me unhappy. About my junior year of high school, I came to the realization that what they think really doesn't matter. It doesn't. They are working to bring me anger, but that's not up to them. Whether or not I get angry really is up to me. Miguel Ruiz's book called The Four Agreements really helped me see this idea. He calls it "Don't Take Anything Personally." What they think and do really is up to them. How I feel about it is what I'm in charge of. Abuse does hurt, but I can't be hurt unless I'm willing to be hurt. That part really is up to me.

Along with that goes the idea of honesty. How often would people's feelings get hurt if we honestly expected people to be honest with us. When we ask our husbands, "Does this dress make me look fat?" if we expected them to answer honestly, would we get our feelings hurt if we knew they were just really being honest, and they didn't want us to walk around looking fat to other people? No. We wouldn't.

This honesty idea does not mean tactless, but it does mean honest. I really need to work to be honest with people. Most of the time, it also means that I need to speak up if something around me is not right. If someone else is getting teased or belittled, it IS my job to say something about it. If those people get their feelings hurt by me saying something truly honest with no intent to hurt someone, that really is up to them.

These realizations have changed my life. The only person for whom I am truly responsible is myself. However, I am responsible for myself. No one else is responsible for me, and that changes how I act and feel every day. If someone says something hurtful, I have to remember that the words are coming from them, it's not really my fault. I need to take responsibility for any wrong action I have enacted, but their feelings are their own. Rob really is in charge of his own feelings. When he or I interact now, I remember that he's in charge of what he eats and how he feels about himself. Whether or not I work say nice things to him and help him is my responsibility, but whether or not he listens to me is his. Now, I really work not to get angry with him.

I don't know if any of these thoughts made sense to anyone else, but these were thoughts that really did change my whole way of thinking and looking at life. My self-esteem really does come from inside. If I base it on anyone else, it's false. I need to base my self-esteem on what truly helps me be happy and I get to choose even that.


Robert said...

Understanding this idea and acting on it are not always the same. Still, I have always understood that I am responsible for my own actions, and I do my best not to "react" and blame it on others. I'm not the best at it, but I do try. It's a great way to look at life, though.

Blogversary said...

I get you and does not sound strange at all. People can't control my feelings. It is quite freeing.

Natasha Becoming Something said...

Ellie! First of all, I love that name-- it's my daughter's.

Second of all, thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciated it.

Thirdly, your post was similar in thought to mine! Actually, similar to my very first post on Examining Discretion.

The Four Agreements really helped me as well! I really believe that there's ultimate truth out there. I believe in Life Laws and the law about not taking things personally is for EVERYONE and brings about psychological salvation.

The example that you used about asking your spouse if you look fat was so funny to me because this is the example I use with friends all the time!! My husband WILL answer honestly if I ask him that question. I asked him just yesterday, "Do I look slim in this dress?" And he said, "Mmmmm, it looks okay but you HAVE looked slimmer. Like yesterday in that new t-shirt [and jeans]. You looked really good in that." WHY would I be hurt about that? He was tactful while telling me that I didn't look very good in that dress, which I wore anyway because I didn't think I looked bad.

I love that I can always trust my husband for an honest answer and I hope that he appreciates that I won't flip out. Then, when he tells me that I look beautiful or tells me how much he loves me, I KNOW he's telling me the truth.

le35 said...

That's how I feel about my husband, too Natasha. I really loved your post today, and it may become a regular and end up on the ol' blog roll. I think, in the end, that truths are real, and there is a truth out there. Even if two people's truths disagree, one of them is right, one of them is not complete, or both of them are not complete.

Julie Pippert said...

I think you are so right about understanding and wisely living by what we can control (and not) and realistic expectations.

The addendum I'd add to that is to release fear of honest discourse and passive-aggressiveness. be in better touch with ourselves and ask or say what we really mean.

If we asked, with sincerity, "is this dress flattering on me?" and only expected truth and had no extrapolation or expectation of the answer beyond a truthful one applicable to the immediate question and situation---then a "Not particularly" would not ever be a problem, would it?

I wonder how often that's what we really are asking. How often it's a substitute for what we really want to ask or say.

Anonymous said...

Control and feelings. Two of the big things.