Recently I shared a graphic on Instagram that caused a bit of a stir. It was this image and the caption said:
"Repeat after me: I cannot make anyone feel anything that they aren’t ALLOWING themselves to feel."
Who knew such a simple statement could strike a nerve like it did. Dozens of private messages, nasty comments (all deleted - I don't allow that energy to stay in my space), and a LOT of feelings over this simple statement.
It would seem that people are not keen on being told that the negative feelings they've been feeling for so long are actually within their control and not the fault of another human being. So, I thought I would take this space to explain what I mean and why I firmly believe that we cannot make someone feel something they are not allowing themselves to feel.
Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in a restaurant and you're waiting on the wait staff to come to your table. He or she is late and it's busy, and you're getting pissed by the minute. You're feeling a negative emotion in relation to the circumstances around you. Soon, a teenage boy comes over to your table and apologizes for being late, says it's busy tonight and asks what you'd like to drink. Your negative emotions are going haywire because you're frustrated, annoyed and feeling offended that this kid would make you sit there for so long.
Instead of giving your order you snap at this 17 year old and allow your negative emotions to drive you to say, "Maybe you should try another profession if this one is too hard for you, kid."
A few things happened in this moment:
1. You allowed a situation that had nothing to do with you personally affect your mood, your emotions and ultimately your actions.
2. You CHOSE to be offended
3. You CHOSE to spit venom at this kid in front of you, ultimately hoping to bring him down to the negative frequency you're on because you feel that badly about it, and you just want company down there in the trenches of bad feelings.
All of this happened because you chose to allow it to overcome you.
When you look around you, there are a dozen tables of people who are in the same situation, and instead of spitting venom and succumbing to the late service and negative feelings, they are taking the time to talk, to laugh, to enjoy and to just be together. They haven't allowed the actions of a restaurant to make them feel anything. They are flying too high for that.
For a moment though, we should talk about the waiter. The kid you so desperately wanted to join you on your frequency of despair? That kid wasn't affected. He understands that you're waiting, and that can be annoying, and he CHOSE to let it roll off of his back because he can totally see where you're coming from. He understands, and because he understands, he is able to not allow the negative feelings to infiltrate his space in this moment. Thankfully, in this moment your venom did not leave its mark.
So, let's see what happens when you try to understand instead, ok? The situation is exactly the same: You're at a table, the diner is busy, there's a teenage kid waiting on you and it's taking forever.
- Instead of sitting there fuming, you CHOOSE to enjoy the people you're with - taking this as a sign from the Universe that you are meant to be here, slowing down, enjoying each other and conversing.
- Instead of lashing out at the kid when he finally comes over to your table, you CHOOSE to say, "Hey, man. Everything ok in here? Seems awfully busy tonight." And he replies calmly, "Yeah, thanks. We had 2 people call out sick, and the only replacements we could find were new hires, so it's a bit slow getting everyone on the same page tonight. I appreciate you understanding."
- To which you immediately UNDERSTAND where he's coming from, why it's slow, and you get it. There's not much this kid could do, and in his shoes, you'd be experiencing the exact same. So, you say "No worries, man. Totally understand, and we've all been there. You'll get through this."
I get it, my friend. I get that no one wants to really look at themselves and see that all of this time they've been allowing the negative emotions to enter their space.
No one wants to realize that all of this time, they had the control to change the way they feel. That's why some of you lashed out at me on a social space. To let me know that you aren't comfortable with some punk spiritual teacher showing you that you had the power all along. I totally get it. The thought makes you uncomfortable.
You see, here's the thing you need to know: you have no control over other people. You cannot control how they feel, what they do, how they respond, what they say and how they live. You are not that powerful, and if you think you are that powerful, then you have a much larger problem on your hands.
In the same regard, no one has control over you. No one has the power to MAKE you feel anything. No one has the power to influence you in that way unless you ALLOW them to. It's an important thing to learn, and my hope is that the next time you're deep in the pit of despair over a late waiter, or a death in the family, or a divorce, a bad grade on your daughter's test, or even traffic you will know that what you feel is what you allow. If you're feeling a negative emotion, you've opened the door to it. The way to close the door? Compassion. Understanding. Perspective. A birds eye view of the bigger picture.
That late waiter? Maybe it's his first day and he needs this job to help support his family because his mom is working 3 jobs.
That death in your family? Her time on this Earth was over. Her mission complete. She learned the lessons she needed to learn this time around and has a bigger purpose now. Celebrate that.
Your divorce? Perhaps this is the Universe guiding you towards a path that will help you to feel much happier. Maybe on this road there is a new dream, a new soul mate, a life you never would have dreamt up for yourself if you hadn't found a way out of this marriage.
You see where I'm going with this? You choose to be offended. You choose to fall prey to the despair. You choose to get stuck in the negative emotions.
Or, you can choose differently and focus on what's good and only what's good. You can . choose to understand, let it go and feel content more often than not.
It really is your choice.
PS: When you post nasty, snarky, rude or demeaning comments online when you disagree with someone? You're only hurting yourself. You're literally perpetuating the negative energy that runs through your life and keeping it active. Choose differently next time.
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