Responsibility for emotion

There has been a culmination of things recently that have contributed in me feeling pretty good right now. I’ve always said that feelings aren’t as important as truth; but what I have learnt is that feelings are a good indicator of the truth of the state of your soul.

A huge thing I’ve come to realise, and I can’t quite believe I hadn’t fully realised this before last week – it really is that recent – is this: I am not responsible for other people’s emotions. In turn, they are not responsible for my emotions. But if I say something that makes someone else feel hurt? In complete honesty, I am not aware of the last time I said something with the aim of hurting anyone. I’m sure you’re the same, or at least I hope you are! But I’m also sure that things I have said in the past have actually hurt people. But am I responsible for their emotions of hurt? You could argue that I am, as I was the one that caused the hurt.

But still, I am not responsible for their emotions.

I was chatting this through with a friend on Sunday night, and he said, “What if I tell you that you’re ugly? Then I’m responsible for your emotions, because I’ve caused you to be upset.” But no – my friend, whatever he said to me, still would not be responsible for my emotions.

If you call me ugly, and I get upset by it, that’s my responsibility. If you call someone else ugly, and they laugh it off and it has no effect on them whatsoever because they have a healthy self-esteem and they’re very secure in themselves, then equally, that’s their responsibility.

There is such freedom in this. If I have said or done something that hurts somebody, and it’s clear that I’m in the wrong, then of course I need to apologise. There’s no harm in apologising anyway, whether I’m in the wrong or not. But what’s not going to happen is me being controlled or limited or being made to feel bad because of somebody else’s emotions.

I’m not responsible for your feelings in the same way that I’m not responsible for your children.

Everybody is responsible for their own feelings and emotions, and they need to learn to manage them, either with help or without.