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.

Why We Want to Be There for Others

I am about to slide into bed, when I hear my son wandering the house.

The clock says he should have been asleep awhile ago.

I find him in the living room.

“I can’t get to sleep,” he moans. “I have been trying to for an hour and a half.”

“Did you try and lie still? Quiet your mind? Relax with . . .?”

“I’ve tried everything,” he moans.

I inwardly groan. I am tired myself. I know I would be asleep the moment my head sinks into the pillow, but . . . life calls.

“Come on,” I say, “I’ll help you.”

I follow his lanky body, taller than me now, back into his bedroom. I tuck him back into bed and sit on the edge of his bed, my hand resting on his leg.

“Breathe slowly,” I say, trying to calm my voice to soothing. “Release the stress with each exhale. Feel your body sink into your mattress.”

I drone on. My voice becoming a little softer. A little quieter.

His breath become longer. Slower. His body begins to let go.

Slowly I raise my hand until it is hovering in the air barely above his body. I used to do this when he was an infant. Ever so slowly raise my hand off his body and then hover it there to make sure he didn’t stir awake.

He remains asleep. I tiptoe out of the room. Mission accomplished.

As my head sinks into my pillow, I instantly relax.

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.We like being needed and being there for others.

 

I know you are like me. You want to help those around you. Love them well. Solve their problems.

Often it is not convenient. But you do it. Because you are concerned about the small and large stuff that concerns those we love.

You see your daughter’s sad face and ask her what’s wrong.

Your son asks you to tie his shoes, and you do.

You dog seems lethargic, and you wonder what is wrong.

You are in the middle of making dinner and your sister needs to talk. You pause to be there for her.

Your husband needs a favor, and you come through for him.

A friend loses a parent, and you hug her and take her dinner.

Your child has a hard time falling asleep, and you talk him to sleep. Or hum him into dream land.

All these things communicate you love them. Are concerned about them and their life. Care about them and their life direction.

Big and small, you want to be there for them. And what you do for them is important.

You encourage them. Cheer them on. Listen. Hand out advice. Squeeze hugs on their bodies.

You want to be involved in their lives. Know their problems. Be asked to help.

Yes, we sometimes get tired of being there. Of helping. Of sacrificing to do the right thing. Of caring so much. Of trying to solve problems and find solutions.

The last thing I wanted to do the night I found my son wandering around sleepless in our house, was help him. I was tired myself. Craving the covers over my tired body. But then as I am helping him, soothing him to sleep, I felt honored to be asked. Trusted to help. And that was a good feeling.

Let’s think about the opposite?

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.What if we were not needed?

 

Imagine if those we loved did not include us? Involve us?

Your husband tells us that he lost his job three months ago, but no worries, he has since found a new one. Sure, it was a stressful time and a lot of worry, but that is now past. He did not want to worry you.

Your son tells you that he asked someone else to teach him to tie his shoes because he didn’t want to bother you.

Your daughter tells her that she lost the spelling competition at school. She was sad for a while, but a friend helped her with her sadness. She knew you had other more pressing problems to deal with.

Your pet visits the neighbor’s when sick, so you don’t expend extra energy on them.

Your neighbor doesn’t tell you that her mother died until a year later. This way she can say she is past the grieving stage and doesn’t need to hamper your schedule.

Your sister lets you know she had a problem, but only after she has thought of a solution. Better yet, even implemented the solution and found success. She knew you were busy and wanted to conserve your energy for more important things.

Would we want to find out that those around us didn’t need our help? Our encouragement. Our listening ear and love? Our problem-solving abilities?

Our soothing voice to put them to sleep?

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.We were made to be there for others, by someone who is there for us.

 

We want to be needed. To be called on. To be informed and kept in the loop.

We don’t want to know after the fact.

Yet sometimes we do this to God.

We think he is to busy to be concerned with our life. Our situation. Our problems.

We think he has more important things to do, than listen to us. Or help us.

And yet, he wants to concern himself with us. To keep those lines of communication open between us. To know what is going on in our life and heart.

As a friend, parent, sibling, and co-worker we want to be needed. To be involved.

We were made in God’s image. And just like him, we want to help. Be needed. Solve problems. Come along side.

God, as our heavenly father, doesn’t want us solving the problem, getting over our hurt, and getting support elsewhere and then coming to him whole and unneedy. No, just like we delight in helping those around us, he delights in helping us.

And unlike us, he never runs out of energy, solutions, patience, love, and all those other things. We can only help so much, but he can help forever.

Remember:

1. No concern, problem, issue, hurt, worry, triumph, blessing, or thought is to little or big to share with him.

2. He cares about us more than we can imagine. His heart breaks for us and explodes in pride for us.

3. He is besides us every step of the way, just waiting for us to put our hand in his. Waiting for us to include him in our life.

4. He is not intimidated by our messes, and ultimately uses them to our advantage and his glory.

5. He sees us and what we are becoming. He knows us better than we know our self and nothing we do or say surprises him.

6. He wants only the best for; works all things ultimately for our good.

So, share the good, bad, and ugly with him. Trust him. Make him your best friend. Keep him in the loop.

And next time you can’t sleep, ask him to talk you to sleep. Because he will.

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.

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: Tell about a time you were there for someone or they were there for you.

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Alt text: Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed.Being there for others feels good. Learn why we want to be there for others. And what would happen if we were not needed. #relationships #kindness to others

15 Ways to Kill a Friendship (What Not to Do)

Perhaps you are someone with too many friends.

They flock to you like ants to chocolate frosting. They take your time and energy, giving little in return. Instead of being a joy, they are turning into a chore.

Well I am here to help.

Follow these 15 steps and you will kill your current friendships. Even halt future friendships. And don’t worry, these steps work on all types of relationships. Mates, co-workers, besties, children of all ages, peeps, pesky you know who’s, and neighbors. Pretty much on anybody, except maybe your loyalist dog.

I do have a few warnings. Make sure you are ready to start?  Killing a friendship can take some concentrated effort. Sometimes even some hard work. It can also take some time. Some friends drop quickly, others take longer. Make sure this is what you want. Once you start implementing these 15 ideas, you won’t be able to return to the earlier days.

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.15 ways to kill a friendship:

 

1. Compare yourself with them. Always and for everything. If you win, you can feel smug and superior. Don’t forget to point out to them that you are better than them in this area. If they win, you can pout, dislike them, and be jealous. Either way, it causes friction between the two of you and helps the friendship turn south.

2.Make them feel guilty for their good fortune. Whine, complain, and show them the injustice of their place in life whenever they are doing better than you. Play the victim. Question why life is so hard on you in multiple texts and conversations. Wallow in your envy. The goal is to make them feel bad

3. Always think the worst of them. Are they late for your date? Assume it is because they are avoiding you. Did they forget to wish you happy birthday by 8 AM? Assume they hate you and are trying to ignore you. Did they buy their favorite ice cream and not yours? Assume it is because you don’t matter anymore, and they have a new and better friend.

You may have to work at this. But eventually with practice you will get the hang of assuming the worst. Remember every action, communication, manner, and situation can be seen negatively.

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.4. Don’t ever make the first move. We are playing a game of chicken here. Don’t call first (unless you are calling to whine and complain per #2). Instead, make them call you. Don’t text to see how they are doing. Make them text you to see how you are doing.

Think about it this way. You are to busy and important to think about them. Wonder about them. Or plain spend any time on them. When, and only after they have made the first move, then get back to them. But not to quickly. Remember, their job is to pursue you, not the other way around.

5. Never encourage or compliment them. There are enough special snowflakes already. Don’t make any more.

Your job is not to hand out false praise and dangerously build them up. No, be practical and helpful. Offer liberal criticism and let them know their faults and where they need improvement. You can be the friend that helps them reach their potential and teaches them that life is not eating a bowl of cherries on an amusement ride. Life is hard, demanding, striving for perfection.  Teach them their best is never quite good enough for you.

6. Focus on yourself. Talk only of yourself. Brag about yourself and your accomplishments. Promote your ideas and opinions. The last thing you want to do is ask them a question or their opinion. Remember, it is all about you.

7. Never apologize or admit you are wrong. If they try to point the accusation spotlight on you, blame and shame them. Intimidate them. Make excuses and then point out how they are more in the wrong than you.

If they apologize first, still don’t apologize. Step back and thank them for their apology. Then focus on how they were wrong, giving suggestions on how they can do a better job in the future. Make sure they are penitent enough before once again extending the olive oil of friendship.

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.8. Put them down and make fun of them. Take every possible opportunity to make them the heel of the joke. If they don’t laugh, tell them you are just joking. Then accuse them of being to serious and not having a sense of humor.

9. Pretend you are perfect. Show no vulnerability. You want them to think you have life figured out and you have everything together. If you don’t, well don’t tell them.

10. Be kinder to yourself than you are to them. Give yourself grace and patience and many tries to get something right. But don’t extend these to them unless they really have worked hard and deserve it. Give them an inch and they will want the Grand Canyon.

11. Hold a grudge for as long as you can. Show them you have more will power than they do. And when you finally decide to loosen the grip of your grudge, bring the incident which prompted the grudge up on a continual and regular basis.

12. Expect more from them than you do yourself. You have high and exacting standards and expectations for yourself, and that has made you into who you are today. Do them a favor and have high expectations and standards for them. You will be helping them see where they have room for improvement.

Always find something they didn’t quite do right and point it out to them. Remember you are doing them a service and trying to get them to achieve their potential. Being disappointed in them is a great motivator.

13. Gossip about them. Feel free to share all the gossip you hear about them (or you learn about them firsthand) with your other friends and acquaintances. If you are trying to help them, or someone in the process, gossip is good.

14. Make everything in life a competition. Provide some friendly fun by competing in every area of life with them. Make sure you have the greatest husband. The cutest dog. The best dressed children. The most volunteer hours. The highest heels. The reddest dress. The sexiest smile. The most social likes.

See number 6. Brag and then brag some more to encourage them to strive harder. Which in turn keeps you working and doing your best to win. See number 2 if they are pulling ahead in any category.

15. Constantly correct them. Especially in front of others. This will alert them to areas where they need improvement. Correct their grammar. “The correct word is ‘affect,’ not ‘effect.'” Their posture. “Stand up straight. You look like a limp pole.” Their stories. “It was January and the time was 3:52.” Their facts. “Everyone knows people love chocolate ice cream more, not vanilla.” Focus on all the glaring little faults you see.

Little things can make or ruin an image. Once again think of it as doing them a service. Sure, they may glare at you in the moment, but years down the road they may be contacting you via Instagram to thank you for helping them become a better and sharper image of them self.

 

It’s your choice.

 

Now that you know what will make many of your friends start running for cover and away from you, leaving only your toughest skinned and ready to grow and improve themselves friends, you can start implementing these 15 items.

If on the other hand, you want a few more friends. Or want to encourage the ones you currently have, then I suggest you do exactly the opposite of the above. Not only will you be well liked. You may win the best friend of the year award.

And as you will have not driven all your friends away, you can host a large party and celebrate together. Because that’s what real friends do.

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.

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

Theresa

 

P.S. Want to know why we need friendships, take a look at The Friendship Moment of Change. And if you are looking for ideas about what you and your friends can do, see When Was Your Last Playdate?


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 things have you seen dissolve a friendship faster than a melting ice cube?   

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships.

Wondering how to kill a friendship? Here are 15 things you can do to guarantee your friendships dissolve. Or you can do the opposite of this and build and encourage your current friendships. #relationships #friendships #humor