I was once told, “Other people are not responsible for your feelings.” I was told this by a counselor. My friend was told the same thing. As stated previously, I have MDD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Our feelings are our own. We own them.
This statement wasn’t fair to me. I hated it, and to this day I don’t know how any counselor can give this advice to someone who has emotionally hurt another person.
This article is still painful to write, but I will try to push through it to better understand my own feelings.
I had a “friend” tell me things such as “you’re not attractive”, “you meant nothing to me” and “I don’t enjoy anything with you” he also labeled me as “troubled”. All the while telling me how he would always be there for me and he was sorry for saying such hurtful things. This was a person who told me he wanted to be a part of my support system.
My anxiety and depression fed off of these statements. He gave that fire so much fuel it began to consume me all over again. He played every fear against me. I could no longer tell myself “it’s just the anxiety and depression”, instead I had to tell myself this is real life. It was no longer just in my head.
Just writing this much is making my anxiety spike. My leg is bouncing so hard something is rattling on my desk, but I’m determined to push through this.
He began using that statement against me. “I’m not responsible for your feelings.” I felt crazy. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be feeling what I was. I wasn’t supposed to be hurting. Instead, I should just ignore them and move on. He didn’t want to talk about what happened.
I needed to talk about what happened. I couldn’t just bottle it up inside. I couldn’t let the depression and anxiety feed off of them and slowly drive me back into that abyss. That’s what happened though. I let the pain kill me all over again.
The statement “Other people aren’t responsible for your feelings” wasn’t complete though. It was turned into a weapon in a war that no one was going to win. There are no winners when someone’s mental illness is used against them, only losers. Some lose their life, others lose a loved one.
We own our feelings, but those feelings are influenced by our environment. Could you imagine walking into a funeral and telling everyone “don’t be sad”? No. Everyone there that is sad and hurting has a valid reason to be feeling that. You can’t just turn your feelings off. They are a part of you.
So, let’s go back to that statement and finish it. If I were telling someone this I would probably say “You are not responsible for another person's feelings, but you are responsible for your own words and actions that have caused those feelings”. That is a more complete statement.
I still struggle with this, probably because it’s still a fresh wound. It still feels like there was no problem with him saying and doing what he did, and the only problem was that I was hurt by it. It made me feel alone in this battle, a battle that I have had for years and while I was making progress through it, he was there pushing me back down.
Those two made it feel like I was overreacting. I wasn’t. Instead, I was feeling a normal human emotion influenced by my environment at the time. I still feel those emotions and it will probably take me a long time to work through them just like everything else in my life.
My challenge for you today is to own your feelings. Experience them, and then move past them and look at them from the outside. Try to figure out what gave you those feelings, and how to move past it. You don’t have to do it right then and there. This is a healing process. I don’t expect to fix or even understand myself overnight. This takes time.