Someone recently told me that I had ruined their day. My immediate feeling was shame and sadness, and in the past I would have felt guilty and horrible about this. I would have scrambled to figure out how I could fix it and make it better and, if unsuccessful, would have spent DAYS feeling sad and scared and ashamed. But today I am doing none of these things.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been through some incredibly humbling experiences that have made me realize that if I do not figure out some way to start taking control of my own emotions, rather than expect others to change in an effort to appease them, I am going to ruin my own life. I have been thrust into a crisis moment where it has become critical for me to find a way to accept that it is MY responsibility—and mine alone—to regulate my feelings, think through the stories I’m telling myself, and pay attention to how my reactions affect me and those around me. And today I realize with stark clarity that if I am in charge of my own emotions, then I must also allow others to be in charge of THEIR emotions. Rather than enter into the shame cycle or adopt the criticism of others as fact, I must fervently defend my own self-worth.
So today when I was told that I had “ruined” the day, I reminded myself that I don’t have that power. And instead of spending the rest of my day in fear and worry and shame and sadness, I will spend some time honestly looking at the part I played, apologize where/if necessary, and then move on. I will trust the love of the person whose feelings are hurt to enable them to find empathy and understanding, just as they always have. And I will trust in the power of taking ownership of my own feelings to allow me to have a wonderful day.