What Other People Say

What other people say and do is about them.

The way I see it and respond to it is about me.

This is one of my favorite sayings. I’m not sure exactly who said it and it may be heavily paraphrased, but the meaning is clear.  Other people’s opinions are just that – their opinions. They come from their beliefs and experiences. They are influenced by the day they are having and the mood they are in. You are never the cause of what other people say and do.

Say What?

You are not responsible for what other people say and do. Period. Doesn’t matter that you are their sibling, or friend, or spouse. Doesn’t matter what you said or did right before. Even if you “provoked” them. They are the only ones responsible for their words and actions. Your responsibility lies in your response.

We are taught the opposite from an early age.  We are taught that we can make other people feel good or bad. We are told not to “hurt someone’s feelings.”

I’m In Control of How I Think And Feel…Always

Really, the only way someone can hurt your feelings is if you let them.

What do I mean?  

Let’s take an example.  Let’s say a co-worker calls you a nasty b***h. Whether or not that hurts will depend on your thoughts. If you think you’re actually a very nice person, the comment, while not pleasant to hear, would have little effect on you. If this co-worker was a close friend, the comment would have more sting because you would be thinking she’s betraying your friendship. The point is, how you think about what someone else says will determine how you feel.  

Ultimately, you are in control of whether or not that comment hurts. You may not realize it, but this is always true.

Here is another example. Imagine a close friend tells you look hideous because you have four arms.  You think to yourself, but I only have two arms! Likely the comment will have little to no effect on you. There is no part of you that believes it.

However, what if the same close friend says instead: “You really should spend more time with your kids. You’re not a very good parent.” That may hurt a little. Why?

The Difference

The difference between these two statements is you and how you think about what was said. Most parents at some time feel they don’t spend enough time with their kids. This is a common feeling. When someone echoes a thought and feeling you have about yourself, that is when it “hurts”.  Essentially, you allow the comment to hurt because you believe it.

It may not be easy to simply not believe some comments. Especially when they come from people you love. If you spouse calls me a “nasty b***h,” your thoughts will be very different than if a stranger says the same thing.

The way I see it and respond to it is about me.

We Are Responsible

We are the only one’s responsible for our own thoughts and feelings. What someone else says is always about them. That is important to remember, especially when it’s someone close to you. Still, the way you see it and respond is about you. You get to decide how I want to think and respond, no matter what was said or who said it.

What is equally true is that you are responsible for what you say. So, if you say something that may come across as hurtful or mean, it’s important that you take responsibility for it. That is called being an emotional adult. It feels good to take responsibility, really it does! 

The next time someone says something you don’t like or you think is mean or hurtful, you have a choice. What was said, no matter how it came across to you, is really all about them and the issues in their own life. 

You get to decide how much credit you want to give it. Always.

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