I often talk about how important it is to take full responsibility for your feelings as you create a solid foundation with another person. But what does this really mean? Does this mean that no one is ever responsible for saying or doing something that hurts your feelings? Well, the answer to that question is yes and no. Let me explain what I mean by setting up a scenario from which you can insert your own experience.
Let’s say your romantic partner says something that hurts your feelings. Maybe she criticized the way you handle yourself professionally. Maybe he lied about what he was doing last night. Regardless of the words or deeds, you felt attacked, betrayed, belittled, or dismissed. You feel justified in your reactions because from your perspective, your significant other has done you wrong. You are firmly planted in the role of victim and may have some very good reasons for being there. Your partner may very well have acted inappropriately or insensitively—or not. People are ultimately responsible for their actions, regardless of how you or others may or may not react to them. But remember, your reactions are based on your past, your values, your personality, your current circumstances, and your interpretations—the very same behavior could have a very different impact on someone else or a very different impact in another space and time.
So here’s the trick. Regardless of whether your significant other’s intentions were good, bad, or indifferent, once the injury has been established, you and you alone are responsible for its healing. In other words, you now hold the power and the choice in how, if at all, you choose to forgive, heal, and move on. Yes, it would be nice to hear an apology but none is really required. Yes, it would be nice to hear an acknowledgement that your feelings have been hurt but none may come your way. And even if they do, you may still feel the sting for some time to come. Because while these validations may seem necessary in order for you to forgive and forget, they really aren’t enough to get the job done.
At the end of the day, you are the one that will need to
- Understand why you felt hurt
- Test out your assumptions about your partner’s intentions, if possible
- Determine how much of your reactions are based on who you are versus who your significant other is
- Find a way to nurture yourself so that your emotional injury can heal
- Forgive your partner so you can reconnect with him or her, reclaim your power, and attend to your well-being
When you take full responsibility for your feelings, you…
- Do not condone any hurtful behavior; instead you seek to understand those behaviors
- Do not stay stuck in a victim role; instead you seek self-understanding and self-care
- Do not want revenge or justice; instead you seek forgiveness and self-love
So the next time you feel injured, remember that once the injury has taken place, the only person who can truly recognize, treat, and heal that injury is you. Take the time to learn how to do this. It will change your life forever.
If you and a loved one are struggling with how to deal with these kinds of situations, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help. I want you to have the best possible outcome when it comes to strengthening your relationships.
Please share your story with our community. This is how we learn and grow from one another.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com