In a good, healthy and loving relationship, each party tries to make sure that their words and actions are sensitive and loving, and the other person knows how much they care about them. When the relationship ends, you’d expect that this continues to be the case, but it usually isn’t. It’s like the contract is over, each to their own.
But this does not stop some of us from expecting our ex to care about how we feel and to blame them for making us feel a certain way. In fact, our first reaction to a break-up is to tell our ex how we feel.
We tell them how much we love them (and how they make us feel), or tell them how much they hurt us (and make us feel) hoping that they’ll care about how we feel. Some exes understand and try to help you through your grief, but most of the time, they don’t feel that they are responsible for how you feel. They probably think you’re just being hurting, unable to accept the break-up, being dramatic, needy or just being “you”.
Painful as it may be to accept it, no one is responsible for how you feel, except you. This is something that I try to help my clients understand time and time again.
Many struggle with this because we believe that someone else makes us feel happy, angry, upset, sad etc. We think in terms of “she made me the happiest man on earth”, and when we’re not happy anymore, it’s her fault we’re unhappy; or we say he said XYZ and “hurt my feelings”, not realizing that our feelings are hurt not because of what someone else said, but because of how we choose to react to what someone else said. A reaction is subjective. Someone else could have a different reaction to the very same thing the other person did or said.
Placing the responsibility for how we feel on someone else makes us feel so much better about ourselves, but it can also make us puppets at the end of someone else’s strings. They do something and we feel happy. They do something else and we feel upset or sad. In the case of your ex, they respond and your day is made! They don’t respond and…
In your mind, it’s your ex making you feel all these roller coaster emotions, but in reality, you are choosing to feel the way you feel. You are 100% responsible for how you feel.
It doesn’t mean the other person’s words or actions are acceptable or justified, it just means people will do what people do, it’s up to you to choose how you respond to their words or actions.
What I’m trying to say is that your ex will say and do things which will “make you angry” or “hurt your feelings”. Some exes even intentionally press your buttons because they know exactly how you will react. It’s not fair or even healthy that they do this, but people do what people do.
You are not responsible for what they do, you are responsible for how you choose to react.
Once you start taking responsibility for how you feel, you’ll be able to change your response and make different choices that give you full control of the situation.
When your ex says or does something that would have “made you angry” or “hurt your feelings” instead of reacting with anger or hurt feelings, you choose to respond with understanding sensitivity and assertive confidence. You find that instead of the old fights, you more ably stir the conversation to something constructive.
Try it. It’s a good place to be — emotionally.