Emotional Ownership

You woke up this morning like most other mornings. While you’re going through your routine a familiar racket starts coming through the wall. “They’re at it again!”, you think to yourself. After several minutes of commotion you say aloud to yourself, “I really wish they would stop with the noise.” – instant silence! As you sit in shock at the sudden absence of clamor you suddenly become aware of a cacophony coming from outside. You rush to your door to see an ensuing chaos. You notice people both angry and frightened. As you watch from your door your gaze focuses on two men whose cars collided. A cop tries to intervene as their arguing escalates. You open the door to hear one of the men say, “You should arrest him, officer, for being stupid!” You’re perplexed by the officer placing his cuffs on the other man while reading him his rights.

As you walk along the street trying to avoid being noticed you hear a crowd shouting and laughing. You round the corner to find a young man on his hands and knees bleeding in the middle of the street surrounded by a sizable crowd. Someone says, “Punch yourself in the face!”, with a look of fear and bewilderment he does as commanded. A woman’s voice shouts, “Bark like a dog!”, “WOOF!” comes from his mouth, and another cries out, “Bray like a donkey!” You’re infuriated yet confused by everything you’re witnessing. You scream over the crowd “LEAVE HIM ALONE!”, instantly the crowd dispersed.

“What is going on?”, you think to yourself. “Am I in an episode of The Twilight Zone?” In the alley you duck into a recessed doorway of a long ago burned out building. Pulling out your smartphone to see if you can find something from the news to explain all this, a public announcement running in the background explains that people are now capable of controlling your every thought rendering you helpless to the will of others. Everyone capable of speech now owns your mind and body. You’re jolted back to your current surroundings by a voice shouting, “BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT, PIG!” Your head on a swivel finally catches a glimpse of a policeman with his gun under his chin. As you fix your gaze you see tears streaming down his cheeks as he struggles against himself squeezing down on the trigger. BANG! You’re jolted upright! As the images in your mind fade, you realize you were dreaming, but you still jump out of bed to check outside. Just an old truck backfiring. Relieved you return to bed grateful it was only a dream….or was it?

How unnerving would it be to live in a world where people could speak to us and cause us to involuntarily harm ourselves physically, or do embarrassing or humiliating things we would never do otherwise? Pretty intimidating right? I know I would probably want to barricade myself in my house, and find every way possible to avoid contact with other people. Now, if I told you most of us do this to each other every single day how would you feel? Would you be appalled, humored, disgusted, in disbelief? Well, we are. Just not quite as directly as the dream scenario shows. We do it by manipulating emotionally, and often we are the ones being manipulated. When someone says or does something “wrong” or “offensive” to us we say “You/They HURT my feelings.” This implies that somehow the offender has some form of power, control, or ownership of our emotions.

Bullying is one of the most talked about forms of emotional manipulation these days. When we allow someone to manipulate us emotionally, like a bully, we are giving them ownership of our feelings. It’s really no different than saying that a person has ownership of our body parts. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure most everyone finds that idea ridiculous! So, why don’t we find the same kind of ownership of our emotions just as ridiculous? I mean, why do our feelings get hurt? Because we CHOOSE to be hurt by the words or deeds of others, and by choosing this we sell out on ourselves. Yes, it really is that simple. Some of us sell out so often that it’s become second nature to hand the keys of our life over to everyone that shows the slightest hint of wanting to dominate us. When this happens we frequently succumb to self-harm and self-sabotage. This can look like addictive behaviors, suicide attempts, cutting, high risk lifestyle, etc. Which is where we’ve given so much control over to someone else that they no longer need to hurt us, we do it for them.

How would life look if we had a remote we could control our world with? When someone says or does something hurtful we could hit the pause button on life! Now we can take time to process what’s being said, and choose a response that doesn’t give them that ownership of our feelings. Press play and we’re back in the moment prepared to respond from a position of emotional ownership. See once you decide consciously how you want to feel about something you take ownership of your feelings. As long as you’re present when someone is being hurtful towards you, you can respond from a mindful place owning your own feelings just like you own your own physical body and its movements.

By Shannon Jones Gratitude Coach

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