I’ve just finished reading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” – a relatively unorthodox read from me particularly in my adult life, wherein I seemingly read books that carry two distinctive sets of messaging – spiritual or faith-based reads and those to do with building wealth. This was a particularly interesting buy for me as I was caught up in my feelings on a host of issues as it relates to dealing with difficult personalities on a day-to-day basis.
How do we safeguard ourselves from getting our feelings hurt when people act a certain way or respond to us in a way that leaves us feeling some kind of way. How do we handle rejection, either manifesting itself within personal, professional or business relationships? No one likes to hear the word “No” being said to them, yet we all know that we can’t always have things our way. For the most part, life doesn’t roll out the red carpet for you each time your feet touch the floor as you climb out of bed. There will be times you crawl out of bed and drag yourself on all fours through the shower into your closet into your car or train into that meeting room – where someone sits in wait, ready to lambast you for things you “should be doing better”, KPIs, metrics, and, and, and.
Clear about what message Manson tries to drive home with this insightful read, the chapter that discusses faults of others in how they handle or interact with us, pitted against our responsibility to get from our feelings and keep it moving, brought with it so much revelation for me. I thought of my estranged relationship with my brother and how I’ve had to accept that perhaps adults can be siblings by birth but not be close anymore. Those days – the days of being close and doing everything together, ended when we left mom and dad’s house and everyone went on their way, went to college, met the love of their life and, as with the case with my brother, decided to get on with life without the family from which they were born. I’ve learned from the pain of realizing that things were no longer the same between us for whatever reasons, and that yeah – sometimes relationships break down and only the rolling hills of time and perhaps the deepened reflection that comes with growing older, will reconcile people. But even then, the parameters would have changed, new sets of boundaries will have been established, and the relationship then takes on a new form.
In reading that chapter, I understood why one of my co-workers has lived the past 5 years of her life without her brothers and parents in her life, after they disowned her for having chosen to pursue a divorce and move on from an abusive marriage. Culture and religion dictated that she stay in that situation, and she, having experienced some degree of oppression throughout her childhood, grew up and decided enough was enough. It wasn’t her fault that her family carried the sets of beliefs and values they upheld, but it was her responsibility to accept them or not, choosing what would apply to her if she was to enjoy the life she envisioned for her and her children.
Feelings, feelings, feelings! Those complex sets of inconsistent emotions that influence everything we do and our responsiveness to the manner in which people treat us. Do our feelings matter? Absolutely! The past few years have taught me that the best way to address a situation is to acknowledge the presence of that situation, defining how the situation makes me feel so you can work through the often conflicting sets of emotions. When I think about a thing, do feelings of hope and inspiration come flooding in, or do I start looking at the next best thing I can focus my mind on so I don’t have to think too much longer about it?
Feelings can being clarity to us as much as they can betray us, which is why it is important that we not only acknowledge where we are at emotionally, which cascades onto what thoughts we let wallow in our minds at any given time. We are then to also assume the responsibility that comes with getting ourselves back to a place of neutral equilibrium. What happens to us through the actions of others, as Manson puts it quite clearly in his book, isn’t always our fault, but yet we find ourselves being responsible for managing our responses and emotional wellbeing.
Therein lies the challenge – what to do with our feelings and who’s at fault when things go south. For me, it’s becoming glaringly obvious that it really is up to us how we let people not only treat us, but how whatever they deposit in us impacts the people we become in action and being.
Don't give your feelings power over you, but rather use them to reflect upon ways in which you can establish certain boundaries in your life. The blame game yields no resolve. We want what we want and so do others, but it is our responsibility to be conscious of the things that trigger negativity, opting out of entertaining them so we can be vessels of light and impact to those we encounter on a day to day basis.
Will you take responsibility of how you feel today?