“Other people do not make me feel the way I feel. Where I live, the kind of car I drive, and how much money and security I have, do not make me feel the way I feel.”
Probably I have never been more at a loss than I was, the first time these ideas were introduced to me. It just didn’t make sense in any way to me. You made me angry, I did what I did because of what you did. My financial situation controlled my feelings at any given time, as did my love life. Turns out I was totally controlled by things outside of myself, and I had an excuse for everything, and none of it was my fault!
If ever there was a doozy, here it is: “I take full responsibility for how I feel and for all of my actions.”
This one I had to sit with and talk with people about, and work through for years, and a statement like this is a 7 day a week, 24 hour kind of thing. I have some days that are better than others, but always I must in the end, own up and take responsibility.
The key here is in my decision making! I make lots of decisions about you and how you and the world should behave, and then I make decisions about how I am going to feel if things go my way or don’t go my way. I found when I closely examined myself, that most of these things were just programmed in to me. Things like “money=happiness/no money=unhappiness” were just so normal to me that it was a given. “How could you possibly be happy if you are broke? If you have no love life? If things aren’t going your way at work? If your car broke down?” I asked. So basically, I was happy as long as everyone around me was acting the way I thought they should, I had some money to spend and a girl friend. So how often do you think I was happy? Not very often. As a matter of fact I found myself getting more and more miserable, and getting in more and more trouble in life. I felt jerked around a lot. See, I would have some money and I’d be happy, but my car would break down and then I’d get mad, and then my girl friend would come and pick me up and I’d be happy, but then she would explain that she was leaving me and I’d get mad and upset. Then I’d have to go out with my friends and I’d be happy, but of course I would get mad again at something, and after a while, I didn’t know which way was up any more. As a matter of fact, this is how I finally landed on a Mental Ward with a lady sitting across from me with a clipboard and nicely saying to me “I am not responsible for how you feel.” She had a lot of explaining to do in my case. As mentioned earlier, I read a lot and spoke with a lot of people over the years about this, and it is still something I have to be aware of at all times.
The exercise I was given was to change my language. Instead of saying “You made me angry!” I was to say “I am making the decision to be angry at you because you are wearing that stupid hat!” It is important to not only own it, but to give reason. This is MAJOR and got me started off in a good way towards what I now know as “Self Control”. By giving the REASON, I was able to easily see in many cases, that many of the decisions I was making didn’t make much sense! At this stage of the game, at any given time I am either being “World Controlled” or I am practicing “Self Control”. This language exercise is the best help I have found in helping me to make better decisions about how I feel. My words are of the utmost importance.