No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt

 Being let down by a friend, seeing your partner behave badly at a social occasion or being yelled at because you made a mistake at work. These kinds of situations all have feelings attached to them. How might you feel in any of those situations? Disappointed, embarrassed, upset? Hurt and angry?

And if you want to tell the other person how you felt, what would you say? Would you say ‘You embarrassed/hurt/upset me’? ‘You made me angry’?

Responding in this way suggests that other people and circumstances are responsible for your emotions. Not so. You create your emotions. And everyone else creates their own emotions.

Blaming someone else can be a way to justify how you feel. You convince yourself that you feel like this because of what the other person did. It’s not your fault you feel this way – it’s their fault. You don’t like feeling like this, so you blame someone else. You take on the role of being a victim, convinced you are suffering through no fault of your own.

Taking full responsibility for your emotions will help you better manage them. Why? When you take responsibility for owning your emotions, then like anything else that belongs to you, they are yours to manage and deal with.

In Practice

Winners take responsibility. Losers blame others. – Brit Hume

Think of the occasions when you have felt guilty, angry, upset, jealous or disappointed. Did you blame someone else for feeling the way you did? At any point did you think or say ‘You/he/she/they made me feel …’? In future, try to be more aware of the situations and events when you blame other people and situations for how and what you feel. In any one situation where there is difficulty or contention, ask yourself ‘How or what do I feel?’ and then answer yourself by saying ‘I feel …’ and not ‘He’s is making me feel …’ or ‘She’s made me feel …’.

Rephrase what you say. Saying, ‘You made me angry’ blames the other person for how you feel.

On the other hand, saying, ‘I am feeling angry’ is taking responsibility for feeling that way.

How could you rephrase the last three sentences, below?

You’ve embarrassed me … I feel embarrassed

You’ve been dishonest … I feel deceived

You made me feel I’ve done something wrong … I feel …

You’ve disappointed me … I feel …

You’ve made me feel really small … I feel …


Further reading

5 ways to manage overwhelming emotions

The neuroscience of emotions

Can I learn to regulate my emotions?

Why it's so important to express your emotions

Reality testing: learning to think before you react