Once we learn about the connection between our thoughts and our feelings, we start to think that it would be really awesome if everybody else understood this connection as well. Because, while we understand that we are creating all of our own feelings with our thoughts, we notice that everybody else around us is still under the impression that their feelings are created by other people or the things that are happening in their lives.
Other people are still blaming us for the way they feel! Naturally, this feels frustrating. How do we fix this? How do we fix them?
The very good news is that we don’t. We don’t fix them. And we don’t have to fix them in order to feel okay about their blame! We don’t have to have them take responsibility for their feelings in order for us to not take responsibility for them. In other words, they can give us credit for their feelings, but we don’t have to accept the credit. We can just let them feel what they feel and not need to change those feelings at all.
Because, no matter how others may feel, you always get to feel what you want. How they feel is none of your business. Your business is always how YOU feel—how you feel about them and how you feel about you.
In this episode of the podcast I’ll teach you how to let other people feel what they want without needing to change or fix them, how to give up people pleasing for good, and how to feel whatever you want about yourself and the people in your life.
Other people think thoughts about us and then have feelings about us. As humans, our instinct is to control what they think so they will feel positive feelings about us. But the truth is, we don’t have to control anyone else’s thoughts and feelings about us for us to feel good. In order to feel how we want to feel, we only ever have to control our thoughts and feelings about them and our thoughts and feelings about us.
Staying in Our Own Business
What is really happening when we worry about what other people think and what other people feel is that, in a sense, we are trying to leave our model (in which we control our thoughts and feelings) and we are trying to jump over and try to control the other person’s model.
And not only is this impossible (because other people get to think and feel what they want), but when we’re in someone else’s model, we lose all our power over our own feelings.
The Perils of People Pleasing
When we’re trying to control how other people think and feel, it can turn us into people pleasers—in which we take action and do things simply to control how other people feel about us. You know you are people pleasing when you are doing something to try and change how someone else feels.
When we are people pleasing, we end up doing all these things in our lives just to make other people happy and then we are miserable. Whenever we leave our model, and abdicate responsibility for our own feelings—in order to jump in to try and manipulate someone else’s model—we end up in resentment.
Other People’s Opinions
Why does it bother us so much when other people judge us or have a poor opinion of us, or even when we just think they might?
Part of it is because we are inherently tribal animals. Our survival, once upon a time, depended on being accepted and cared for by the group. If you got kicked out the group, death was pretty certain. So there is a certain amount of primal fear there that makes us anxious or upset when other people don’t approve of us
But another part is that because we each have a deep insecurity and suspicion that there is something wrong with us. We don’t really like ourselves and we use other people’s affirmation of us to kind of overcome that insecurity. When others think badly of us, it confirms what we were terrified to admit…we aren’t worthy of love or admiration or appreciation.
So our brain, whether because it wants to fit in or because it’s noticed all the things wrong with us, puts a lot of stock in what other people think. It worries about what other people think and feel about us. It’s constantly on guard for evidence that other people might not like us or approve of us or love us.
But knowing this is the default human condition, gives us an opportunity to choose something else….to not give into the primal, human fears, but to choose on purpose, what we want to think about others and what we want to think about ourselves and letting everything else go.
So how do we do this? Here are 4 thoughts and questions to ask yourself and think about:
1. Every time you feel a feeling, take credit for it.
Other people can’t make us feel anything. They can’t make us feel guilty or ashamed or selfish or unworthy or misjudged or hurt or annoyed. Recognize that you feel something, it’s not because the other person is making you feel that way. It is because we are thinking a thought.
2. Ask yourself, “Can I allow others to feel what they want to feel? And if not, why not? What do I make it mean about me if they are upset or mad or disappointed?”
Other people have a right to think and feel what they want. And so do you. Remembering this helps us stay in our mode and concentrate our control where we have control—on our thoughts and feelings.
3. When people have expectations or make requests, ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” And then ask yourself why.
Be honest as you answer. Do you want to do this thing and can you get to love to do it? If you are doing it from fear or to change how someone else feels, stop and ask yourself if you can do it from love, and, if not, you probably don’t want to make that choice.
4. Ask yourself, “What if my only motive was love?”
Would you do what you are doing if your only motive was love? Or are you doing it from fear of what others will think or to make someone else happy? When we operate with love as our only motive then we get to feel love regardless of how others think or feel or act.