I was thinking as I woke up yesterday morning about the difference between, “It makes me feel _________” and “I feel ____ because I think ____”
One is victimization language. A victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable, and always entitled to sympathy.
The other is self-control and responsibility language. It uses words to expresses your self in a way that takes responsibility for thoughts and emotions.
I keep attempting to add to this blog entry, but I think it stands as it is. I’ve been monitoring how I express my feelings, how I express my criticisms of others, how I ask for what I need. Instead of saying, “You _____ and it makes me angry!” I say, “I’m angry, because I think that ________ is the right way to do it, not the way that it was done.”
Victim language has become my knee-jerk reaction. I feel something, and I blurt it out associating it with other people’s action in false cause and effect. It’s a false cause and effect because action does not lead to emotion. Action leads to observation leads to thoughts leads to emotion. And the thoughts and the emotions are mine, my responsibility. Emotions come from my thoughts, not from other people’s actions.
Really thinking about how I’m expressing myself gives me some distance to figure out if my emotions are really appropriate, if it’s worth getting angry, or frustrated, or sad. For example, Tim walked out of the bedroom last week while I was still getting dressed and opening the door let cold air in. I could have shouted, “I’m cold! Why’d you have to open that door?” instead I thought, “I’m cold, but did he do that to hurt me? No. Am I still cold? No. Could I have closed the door or just gotten dressed faster? Yes.”
So I just told him that I had been cold when he opened the door, over breakfast. Rather than shouting “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be cold,” I took responsibility for my emotions. And it felt good — a wonderful way to start the day.
Take away: Take responsibility for your emotions by identifying where they come from. They come from your thoughts. If you can figure out where they come from, you’re on your way to self-control.