Taking Responsibility for Your Emotions
You can improve your relationships by taking responsibility for your emotions.
Posted October 6, 2022 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
- Mindfulness can give you the presence of mind to take responsibility for the energy your emotions bring.
- When you interact with others in a reactive mode, you give up control to other people's words and actions.
- You have power over how you view situations, what information you seek about them, and how you choose to respond.
Your emotions create an energy that you bring with you everywhere you go. When you go on a date night with your partner or out with friends, arrive at work on Monday morning, or take a quick trip to the supermarket, they follow you like a second shadow. The energy your emotions bring can have a powerful effect on those around you.
We've all seen someone yell at a cashier who is just doing their job, and you probably know at least one person who is so pessimistic all the time that they bring others down. But you might not know how your emotional energy affects those around you. You'll never be able to read other's thoughts, but that doesn't mean you should be solipsistic, believing that yours is the only mind that exists.
Mindfulness—the acceptance and awareness of your inner world and the world around you—can give you the presence of mind to take responsibility for the energy your emotions bring. Mindfulness will help you become aware of what you're doing and saying, pay attention to how you're responding to other people—and how they're responding to you—and take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions. To create an intentional life—one in which your needs are met, you have power over what happens to you, and you feel fulfilled—you must live mindfully.
Mindfulness fosters patience, compassion, and wisdom—qualities you'll need to promote your happiness and help you become a positive force in the lives of those around you.
When you interact with others in a reactive mode—ruled entirely by whatever feelings you have in the moment and your limiting and irrational beliefs—you give up control to other people's words and actions and to the fight-or-flight response chemicals released in your body. When you're in a reactive mode, you make assumptions that may or may not be accurate. You might throw up verbal walls of defensiveness or refuse to communicate altogether, even when you're not under attack. You're acting as if you have no power over the situation or your behavior. Whatever the outcome, someone else is to blame for pushing your buttons and making you feel and act the way you do. "You made me do it" becomes your automatic response.
Of course, the truth is just the opposite. You may not be able to control everything in your environment, and you certainly cannot control how other people feel or what they think, no matter how much you wish you could. But you do have power over how you view situations, what information you seek about them, and how you choose to respond with your behaviors and words. Whether your choice is intentional or not, you do choose. If you blame or attack others, that's a choice. Mindfulness will help you make better choices. You can begin to improve your situation only when you accept responsibility for it.
To begin with, you must hold yourself accountable for the harmful or destructive behaviors that may have been part of your past. Once you are mindful of what you have done—and how you are presently affecting the world around you—you can change. You can learn how to step between your feelings and your response to them and learn how to pause before you engage. This pause will help you to avoid the negative behaviors that harm you as much as the people around you.
You deserve to be happy. You are worthy of the comfort, joy, and support you can gain when you form honest and emotionally sound relationships. You are the only thing that stands in the way of achieving this goal. But first, you will need to change the destructive patterns that do not support the relationships or the life you want. It will be a challenge, but it will be worth it. You can move forward into a better, happier life if you keep in mind the rewards that await you if you stop letting your emotions control you and repair the past damage your emotional reactions have caused.
To accept responsibility for what you do, you need to begin by examining yourself and your interactions. This examination will assist you in being able to identify where problems lie. Think of it like a relationships to-do list. The biggest challenge you face is to make an enduring commitment to change how you think and behave. In exchange, you will take back the power your shadow of emotions has over your life and begin to build the life you want.