The Daily Groove


WordWatch: "...MADE me feel..."

Scroll to: Part 2 | Part 3

There is no brighter red flag indicator of disowning your Authentic Power than when you say...

  • He made me feel bad.
  • She made me feel stupid.
  • They made me feel unwelcome.
  • My child made me angry.
  • Rain makes me sad.
  • Blue skies make me happy.
  • You make me feel special.

Whether your feelings are "negative" or "positive," you give your power away when you think or say that someone or something outside yourself MADE you feel that way.

This is not to say that you shouldn't have the feelings, or that they aren't valid, only that they are not CAUSED by external conditions.* Feelings/emotions are your body/mind's way of telling you that your thoughts are IN or OUT of alignment with your "higher truth."

Your Authentic Self ("You" with a capital "Y") knows you are inherently powerful. So when you (small "y") are holding a disempowering thought, there is a clash between You and you. That clash generates an emotion that feels painful because, like physical pain, it's there to make you aware that something is out of whack. Likewise, pleasure is an indicator of alignment between You and you.

You've been trained to believe that external conditions and behaviors make you feel emotional pain or pleasure, but it's actually your thoughts about life conditions that cause your feelings. When you change the way you think about something, it changes they way you feel about it.

* Of course things like weather, diet, and past trauma can affect your emotional biochemistry. If you have biochemical issues, you might want to try on the perspective that your biochemistry is an "external condition" that may affect your brain but can't control your thoughts entirely. Your mind and your brain are not the same thing.

* * *

Part 2: An example of how to take your power back by changing your thoughts about what "made" you feel bad:

You're talking about how your child made you feel angry because he picked all the flowers in your garden. When you notice yourself saying "...made me..." you realize you're disowning YOUR power and assigning it to your child.

So you take your power back by telling yourself "He didn't MAKE me angry, I made myself angry by holding on to disempowering thoughts about what happened, and I can make myself feel better by changing my thoughts."

Now you can shed light on the thoughts -- beliefs, assumptions, expectations, interpretations, and judgments -- at the root of your feelings. You can make a conscious choice to let go of any thought that feels bad and replace it with one that feels better.

I feel bad when I think...
  • He's a naughty child.
  • He doesn't respect me.
  • My garden is ruined.
I feel better when I think...
  • He thought he was doing a good thing.
  • He didn't realize that we don't pick all the flowers at once.
  • He will follow my example if I invite him to spend more time tending the garden with me.
  • The flowers will eventually grow back.

Even if your painful thoughts seem totally justified, you have the power to embrace a perspective that feels better.

No one can MAKE you choose to look at the dark clouds instead of the silver linings. It's your choice!

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Part 3: Why people are addicted to saying "...MADE me feel..."

The abuse of power throughout history has given power a bad reputation, which has led to the tacit glorification of the victim status.

Society deems you righteous and beyond reproach if you can prove you're a victim of people or forces beyond your control. You've been led to believe that it's better to be perceived as a powerless victim of circumstances because that means you're not "the bad guy."**

When you strike "made me feel" from your vocabulary it's hard to maintain a victim status, leaving you with only yourself to blame for your problems.

But this choice between being the bad guy (self-blame) and being the victim (other-blame) is a false dichotomy. You could ditch the blame game altogether and accept authentic responsibility for your present experience: "I have the power to choose my response to any life condition, including others' behavior." That's true response-ability.

Instead of looking for someone or something to blame for how you feel, practicing authentic responsibility focuses on what you can do to make yourself feel better.

And 99% of the time you CAN choose a perspective or interpretation that feels better.

YOU make it so.

** This is not to say that no one is ever violated (i.e., "victimized"), but even then, holding on to the victim label is optional.