You Are Not Responsible For the Emotions of Everyone Around You

I’m a fixer.

I’m a doer.

Perhaps you are too.

I see the bed unmade and I make it.

The toilet is running. I reach in, push the flapper down, and stop the waste of running water (yes, I have even been known to do this in public bathrooms! I know!).

I see someone next to me and their shirt tag is waving their size and brand, and without thinking I reach over and tuck it back in.

A child looks lost and is frantically looking about for a familiar face, I stop and talk to them. Make sure they are alright.

And if someone looks unhappy, my first instinct is to go make them happy.

I know that sounds silly. Make someone happy. Because we can’t make someone happy. They have to decide they want to be happy, but still I try.

And often I can cheer them up. Make them giggle. Get them to smile.

Which I consider success.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

Do you have my problem?

 

See the problem is that somewhere in my life, and yes it probably stems back to my family of origin, I decided (or thought) I was responsible for the people around me being happy. Emotionally stable. In a good mood. What ever you want to call it.

Maybe it was because being in a “good” mood and being happy was the main emotion we were allowed, or were supposed to exhibit growing up.

I am sure having a teen friend who was highly insecure didn’t help. She would come over to our house for youth groups and at the last minute decide she could not attend. She would recite reason after reason why she could not attend, and my sister and I would deny and topple each reason. Then my sister would get tired of her nonsense and leave her to me. 20 or 30 minutes later I would finally talk her into attending. And then the next week, it would happen again.

So early on I became a fixer of others.

Eventually I had children. And while they were young I was responsible for doing practically everything for them. And that meant helping them learn to control their emotions. Divert their tantrums. Get them to smile on cue for photos.

It didn’t take much to change their moods when they were young.

My son is now a teenager, and he can be unhappy. My husband can have a hard day at work and come home grumpy. My friend loses her baby. My neighbor is moving. All these people are a little unhappy. Grieving or processing their emotions.

My natural instinct is to jump up and sing and dance and try to make them happy.

Only it is not my job.

And it is not always what they need. Or want.

I have been hopping around trying to make people happy for so many years, diverting tantrums, smiling and making faces until the kids smile, trying to cheer up the sad hearted, that I think I am responsible for making everyone around me happy.

But I am not.

And neither are you.

We are all responsible for our own feelings.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

Are emotions good or bad?

 

Here is one thing I am unlearning from my youth. Emotions are NOT divided into 2 categories. Good emotions and bad emotions.

No. All emotions are necessary. Yes, we are more comfortable with some emotions, like happiness, and less comfortable with other emotions, like sorrow.

The emotions themselves ae not good or bad, desirable or undesirable, it is how we process or deal with our emotions that can healthy or unhealthy and cause problems for others.

Pain is not a bad emotion. But if we drink, shop, or retreat from life to mask our emotional pain, then we can get in trouble and cause more problems.

Happiness is not a bad emotion. But if we pretend we are happy when we are not, then that can get us in trouble and cause more problems.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

We can’t always fix them, and that is alright.

 

My daughter and I got all dressed up and drove to attend a play that she really wanted to see. The problem was, we showed up a day late. I felt horrible. Yes, mommy guilt was cursing through my veins. My daughter was sad. Upset. Disappointed. And Angry. And it was all my fault.

We had missed the last show, so there was no buying new tickets. Our chance had come and gone.

Well, I tried to cheer my daughter up. I told her I was sorry. Made a joke about being all dressed up with no where to go. Tried to find the positive. Told her things could be worse. And who knows what else.

But my daughter was still sad. Disappointed. Upset. Angry.

It was one of those times I realized that I could not dance and sing her happy. And it hurt. And it was uncomfortable. Because it was my fault.

And that was alright. Only it didn’t feel alright.

I wanted her to get over her emotions right away, but she couldn’t.

We went out to donuts, I think, but donuts just don’t compare to a Broadway play.

It is hard as parents seeing our children trying to work through their emotions. It is hard as spouses when we see our mates working through difficult time. It is hard when we see our friends grappling with big changes and emotions. It is hard when we can’t solve things. Make things better. Wave a magic wand.

We can watch them wade through the emotions, but we can’t do it for them.

I know sometimes their emotions make me uncomfortable, and so I want to fix them. But only they can fix them.

Or maybe I feel responsible for their emotions, like I did with my daughter and missing the play, so I want to fix them.

But I can’t fix them. And that is hard. But it is alright.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

What you can do to help the other person deal with their emotions?

 

I am leaning that sometimes the best thing to do is just be there. Be available for the person.

Let them sit and process their emotions, and not try and hurry them to happy.

Instead of talking, listen to them. Then asking a few questions that lets them tell you where they are coming from. And why. Then listening some more.

This technique requires us to let them come to some of their own conclusions. To bite back some of our wonderful insights and conclusions. To not do most of the talking and telling.

But it works.

They process through their emotions and return to their usual self easier if they can talk about how they are feeling, and why they feel that way.

Isn’t this what we all want? To be understood and heard?

This may mean letting them be sad for a while. Not hurrying or short changing the grieving process. Or the healing process.

It’s hard, because we often want to fix them on our terms and time.

But that will not work for them.

 

Resisting the urge to fix. 

 

Let’s stop feeling responsible for fixing everyone’s attitude or emotions.

Because we are not responsible for fixing them.

Instead, let’s help them process their emotions. Listen. Ask questions. And listen some more.

We won’t do it perfectly.

And it will feel strange. All new things do. But as we try, we will be learning. And progress will be made.

Both for them. And for us.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: Do you feel this need to fix the emotions of those nearest you?

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

The emotions of others can make us uncomfortable, so we try to fix them and make them happy. But dealing with the emotions of others is not our responsibility. Learn what to do instead.

Living the Dream Between Sticky Messes and Sacred Ground

Do you sometimes look around and wish for more?

Do you sometimes think, is this all there is?

Or wonder to yourself, so this is how it is going to be?

Does life sometimes seem more like a chore than joy?

I think we can answer yes to some of these questions, depending on the day and season we are currently mired in.

We sometimes forget that our sticky mess we are questioning, is really sacred ground.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Sticky messes and sacred ground?

 

Maybe you can relate to sticky messes.

Perhaps there are sticky spots all over your kitchen floor. Places where papers would naturally stay put without tape. Maybe you lost your left shoe this morning and it’s still where the sticky ooze first grabbed it.

But sacred ground?

Nothing sacred about this sticky ground, you think.

Let me ask you a question.

Are you in the middle of an answered prayer?

I don’t mean this morning’s prayer, I mean a prayer or desire from year’s ago.

Maybe from before you were a teen. Maybe after.

Did you once long to be a wife?

Did you once pray for a job?

Did you once yearn to be a mom?

Did you once dream about renting your own apartment? Moving out on your own?

Did you desire to have your first house?

Did you used to dream about being an adult who could do whatever they wanted and stay up as late as they wanted?

That’s my point.

Many of us are living smack dab in the middle of our answered prayers and dreams. Sacred ground is below us.

We longed for this, and now we are here. Only it seems much different than what we imagined. Harder than we thought it would be. And there are more responsibilities than we ever imagined.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Don’t worry, we have lots of company.

 

The children of Israel prayed for years to be free from the Egyptians. To be free from slavery. To have a different and better life for themselves and their children.

That day finally came. They walked out of Egypt with their heads high. They were free. Off to a new life. Their prayers were answered.

We don’t get very far into their story before their attitude changes. They begin whining about walking so far. They complained about the lack of water. Were dissatisfied with Moses. Wished they were back in Egypt eating leaks

When they imagined being free of Egypt, they never imagined they would be wandering for years in a sand pit and sleeping in a tent.

We can’t fault them for not reading the fine print. Because there was no fine print.

Their prayers were answered, sure not in the way they imagined they would be, and they grew unhappy.

Does this feel familiar?

We pray for employment. Imagining a job so wonderful there is no bad news to write home about. Then we get a job, only it doesn’t match the image we had pasted on our frontal cortex.

We pray for children. Maybe spend years trying to get pregnant. Never thinking of all the dippers and mid-night feedings and the worry and guilt that goes into raising a child.

We pray for a house. Then the roof leaks. The neighbors are unfriendly. The furnace quits one cold night.

We pray for a mate. Only to find marriage is not as easy as it looks. And he is not as perfect as we thought.

We pray for friends. A church. Healing. And the answer looks different than our request. 

Reality overtakes our preconceived fantasy. It makes us question the here and now.

We forget our prayers were answered, because we now feel stuck in a mess, mired in problems, hip deep in sand and sticky places. 

The reality may be that we are smack dab in the middle of answered prayers. Standing on sacred ground. But we have forgotten this, because it sure doesn’t feel like we are living our dreams.

Life gets hard. We feel unhappy and tired. Dissatisfied. We whine and complain. Feel sorry for our self.  Because that is what we as humans do.

I used to think that if I was a child of Israel wandering in the desert tired and parched, I wouldn’t have whined. Baloney! I would have joined right in with them. Because of one simple reason. We humans are whiners. We think back to our shiny and perfect prayer or dream and then we look around at our current reality and we feel cheated.

Wait a second, we think. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for imperfection.

Only we forget that we live in imperfection. There is no Garden of Edan. And reality never jives with the dream in our headspace.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.How to reconcile our sticky messes with sacred ground and enjoy our answered prayers.

 

Life is always full of sticky messes next to sacred ground because we are human. Remembering that the two go hand in hand, can be helpful. Here are also some other tips that may help.

Hint: Trying to implement all of these tips leads to overwhelm. Choose one or two that will most help you right now. Or come up with your own.

1. Remind yourself that life is hard. Even with a husband. 2 children. A dream job. A house. A picket fence. And 1 dog. Sure, some parts are easier, and some parts are harder. But life ain’t never as easy as we want it to be or as we imagine it will be. There is a disconnect between our dream and reality. Understand this.

2. Life unfolds in seasons. It is always changing. We may get tired of being grabbed by little hands and answering their 1,452 questions a day, but one day they will be grown. What irritates us today, may one day be missed. Or what irritates us today, may naturally cease.

3. Things could always be worse. Sometimes I play this game with myself. I imagine things worse. Much worse than they currently are. Which makes me thankful that things are not worse. It helps me count my blessings and thank God for what I do have.

4. Find ways to enjoy life right now. Don’t delay fun. Have fun right where you are. It makes life easier and improves our attitude.

Maybe even go for crazy fun. Dance and sing in the kitchen. And when someone steps on the sticky goo left over from junior dumping a jar of honey on the floor, they get to choose the next song.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.5. Toss perfection and almost perfect out the nearest door. It just trips you up and makes you desire what will never be. It’s also a kill joy.

6. Spot the positive. The negative is easier to spot, but it yields less rewards. Spotting the positive will lead to feeling better about where you are right now in your sticky mess and help you count your blessings.

7. See the eternal perspective. You are right where God has placed you. This life is never all about us. Or about a clean home or finding the most enjoyable job. Or about kids or pets that don’t embarrass us. It is about loving others, our self, and God.

8. Remember the prayers that God has already answered in your life. God recounted to the children of Israel over and over again the story of bringing them out of Egypt. Why? Maybe to remind them that he answered their prayers. That he was on their side and had taken care of them. And that they were living their answered prayers.

9. Find the humor in your life. You may have to wait awhile for showing up to your child’s doctor appointment on the wrong day to be funny. But one day, it just might be. Humor helps change our perspective and cheers us up.

10. Create a tribe of support. Friends you can talk to. Encourage one another. 2 are better than one.

You got this.

Breathe.

Another breath.

Now go enjoy your one and only life.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What answered prayer are you living? And what helps you remember to enjoy your answered prayers?

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.10 suggestions to enjoy our current life. Because sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems. Learning to live in the present and accepting your life.

Shedding the Wallflower

When I tell my children I was shy and painfully unsure of myself during my childhood and early adult years, they question if I am being truthful. The story sounds made up, to them. But it is true.

I spent most of my first twenty some years quietly looking around, unsure of myself and the world. I preferred to watch people, instead of participate; listen to people, instead of talk.

I tried to avoid situations where I needed to talk in front of others and where I felt under the spotlight. I hated being asked something I wasn’t sure of. When asked a question, my mind usually went blank, then churned like a slot machine circling madly to land on the correct answer. Didn’t all questions have a right and wrong answer? I was terribly afraid of choosing the wrong one,

With this established track record of silence, who knows why during my last half-year of graduate school I listened to my friend who recommended that I pursue a job as an English instructor.

Now why it never dawned on me as I was typing my resume, calling English department Deans, or interviewing, that being a teacher required one to stand in front of a class and talk, I am not entirely sure.

Getting dressed for my first night of teaching at a local college I was scared out of my wits. I wasn’t sure I would have any sweat still left inside of me by the time I arrived.

Remembering the vote of confidence from my friend, I grabbed my notes, and out the door I headed. “You can do this,” she had assured.

Talk about an adrenalin surge. Intense nervousness. A cracking voice. Sensations of nausea. Feelings of being an alien on exhibit. I experienced it all within the first 10 minutes of entering the classroom. Being an evening class, I still had another 100 minutes.

To find out what happened, please continue reading this post, Shedding the Wallflower – Made For Brave Sisterhood, at Crystal Twaddell where I am guest posting.

We were made to be brave. And sometimes that means stepping out and doing the unexpected. #worth and identity #personal growth