How often have we heard this? Bunches, I bet. Here are some others.
You made me love you. You make me sad. You’re frightening me.
The thing is, emotions such as anger, fear, and love are completely subjective. What frightens one person may very well be something with which another person is perfectly at ease. What one person loves another may hate. What is more, NO ONE can make any one feel any particular way.
Someone may say something very hateful and hurtful and we may rightly be very emotionally hurt by their words. But the emotion of “hurt” is ours to own. Don’t blame the hurtful one for the emotion. Blame them for being an ass in the first place. On the other hand if the words spoken bear truth, then perhaps it would be wise to examine yourself and YOUR words and actions.
You may wish to make me angry, but because of the subjective nature of anger, you are not responsible for my anger. That’s right. You might be the inspiration, but I am the only one who can ever be responsible for my emotions. If I get angry over something and slap you, then I might say, “I hit you because you made me angry.” The truth is that I hit you because I became angry enough to strike on my own. I had a choice to hit you, to talk or yell at you or to simply walk away. The choice was mine alone. Shifting the responsibility to you by claiming that you were the one who “made” me angry” is pure bunk! I was the one who did it. I was the one who became angry. I need to claim ownership of my feelings and actions. What’s worse, by blaming you for my emotions and reactions, I am surrendering personal autonomy. I admit (wrongly) that I have no control over my own feelings or actions. How sad is that?
I recently got in a discussion with someone who told me not to get upset over the way I was being treated by an incompetent bureaucracy. The fact that I was being told in a patronizing tone by a member of that same bureaucracy didn’t help, but is slightly beside the point. The point is that I was being told not to get emotional over something for which it was reasonable to feel emotional. When we are wronged, do we not become angry? When we see others wronged, is it not reasonable to become angry on their behalf? We ARE our Brothers’ Keepers!
The bottom line is how we deal with that emotion. Does the expression of an emotion bring harm to ourselves or others without a corresponding or corrective benefit? If I become angry over the abuse of children, then isn’t it justified if I must work myself to physical/mental exhaustion to bring relief to the abused? I think it is. Don’t tell me not to get upset. To begin with, if my being upset spurs me to bring help to a bad situation, then my anger is well justified. But that aside, I am the one who is responsible for my own emotions and the consequences of feeling and acting on them.
You can’t make me mad, and you can’t stop me from being mad if I am so moved. It’s patronizing, and it makes me angry. HA! I mean that I become angry when it is attempted on me!