Growing up I felt completely responsible for how my dad felt and behaved. We walked around on eggshells, trying to modify our behavior so that he wouldn’t get angry or we wouldn’t be in trouble. I developed a false belief that it was up to me to make other people happy, so that I could be happy. As a very emotionally intelligent person, it has been easy and natural for me to tune in to the people around me and know what they are feeling, understand how they are experiencing life in the moment. I used that skill to my advantage and for my survival.
But because of my experiences, I developed a subtle and dangerous belief, that I was responsible for how those around me felt. Life seemed to have proven to me that when one person around me was having a bad day, I needed to help them feel better so that we could all feel better. It seemed to work, and it seemed necessary not just for survival but for thriving. To my empathic heart it also seemed kind. How could I have a good day when someone else was having a bad day? It is also why relationships were sometimes as stressful as they were, because if I said I loved someone, then suddenly it was up to me to make them happy for as long as I was saying I loved them.
It’s remarkable how ingrained this false belief was from such an early age. But recently I have come to know with a deep level of conviction that I’m not responsible for anyone except for me. If someone is having a bad day, it actually does not serve them for me to join them in their bad day. I cannot be miserable enough to make a miserable person cheerful. It is wonderful to be comforting, but not helpful for me to join them in the pits myself. It’s so amazing, but I can have a truly lovely day regardless of what is happening around me. I am solely responsible for me. I can’t blame anyone for causing my focus to shift to negative things. Even what people think of me, or what I think they think of me, doesn’t need to have any bearing on how I’m feeling about myself or the kind of day that I am having.
This is made me realize just how very powerful I am. No matter what is happening, no matter how people are experiencing life around me, I have the freedom and power to choose to focus on the positive, on better feeling things. I will let each person around me be responsible for themselves, for the day that they are having. I will always be kind and comforting, but I will also remember that I am responsible for me, and for my own focus, and will let them be responsible for themselves.