As children we have a right to be protected by our parents or guardians from any form of abuse, full stop. We are not responsible for that abuse. As adults we may encounter a situation where we are physically overpowered against our will, we are not responsible for that either. We can however begin to take our power back by becoming responsible for our own healing. We may have noticed a pattern whereby we continue to find ourselves in situations with emotionally and mentally abusive people and begin to question ‘why does this keep happening to me?’ We may be desperate to heal our pain, but not know how to go about doing that.
As adults, we can begin the healing process by taking responsibility for ourselves and the choices that we make from this point on. By doing this we begin to pay attention to ourselves, by listening to ourselves and noticing the choices that we make and any choices in the past where we had an opportunity to do something differently, but chose not to. From this we can learn. When we learn, we begin to listen and pay attention to our intuition and red flags. We can take responsibility for the mistakes that we have made and chose not to do the same again. We can look at ways in which we can protect and re-parent ourselves and in this we also learn to cultivate more self-respect. There are many ways that can help us heal and all may not be right for every person, nor may the timing be quite right as other things may have to fall into place first. If you have experienced any abusive situation it may help you to look at your `boundaries’ and investigate more about that. And we can look at other areas, such as our emotions and begin to take responsibility for what we feel.
Many people find it difficult to assert themselves in confrontational situations and find themselves in a jam. Understanding more about where responsibility lies can help with that. When we say to another ‘you make me angry’, we are effectively handing over our personal power to them. By saying ‘you make’ we are making that other person responsible for how we are feeling. We may be blaming them because that can make us feel better at least temporarily. By blaming another for how we are feeling it is effectively giving them permission to control us and our emotions. We are handing them the puppet strings which can compound our sense of worthlessness and inability to feel like we are in control, and in charge of ourselves.
Emotional intelligence involves us taking responsibility for the way that we ourselves are feeling in response to someone else’s behaviour. When we blame, we lose a certain amount of self-control and can feel victimised, powerless and helpless. When we can acknowledge that it is our own emotion that we are feeling and experiencing inside, it can help us to change our perception of situations and feel more self-empowered. We can then begin to look at ways to deal with this emotion if it does not feel comfortable for us.
Another person’s behaviour is separate to us; we cannot control that, if it is the way that they are choosing to behave. We have a right to choose within ourselves how we respond to that behaviour, when we take charge of ourselves. This is very different to saying that we should tolerate someone’s behaviour, we should not and we do not have to. It is a choice, when we begin to check in with ourselves, and ask ourselves how we think and feel about any situation. With firm boundaries we can learn to say, ‘No, your behaviour is not acceptable to me and I will not tolerate it, I feel angry when you do that’. We own the emotion, realising that we are the one that is feeling angry with their behaviour. It then gives us a self-message that there is hope, that we can begin to trust that we can take care of ourselves and somehow we might be able to do something to change the way that we are feeling if it feels uncomfortable. It is their behaviour and our emotion. Mutuality and equality suggests that each adult should be responsible for their own part in the two-way exchange of a relationship. Rejecting another’s behaviour does not mean that we have to reject them as a person, (unless we decide to, that again is our choice). We may acknowledge that some of their behaviour and the things that they do, is actually very acceptable and a pleasant experience for us. Hence, the choice that we have whether we permit another to interact with us or not.
If we have been brought up to be polite to people, we may not have also been taught that others should also be polite and respectful towards us and we do not have to tolerate their behaviour if they are not. We do have a choice as to who we accept into our life or not and in this basic decision making process we can begin to retain a sense of personal power and control over our own lives.