Love Letters to Humans (no. 78) — on Several Things

We can accept responsibility for the consequences of our choices without taking blame for the way someone else experiences us.

What we choose, what we do, how we show up (or don’t), what we say (or hold back), what we go after (or let go of), our actions, our words, our decisions—these all come with responsibility and consequences. We can accept responsibility or avoid it… a choice. We can confront the inevitable consequences (pleasant or unpleasant as they may be) or attempt to avoid them… another choice. In any event, our choices are ours.

The way someone else experiences us and our choices, actions and inactions, words and silences… that’s *their* business. Those of us who were raised to believe that we were responsible for other people’s feelings (🖐) have a hard time with this one. We learned that we could “make” someone angry, sad, happy, or scared.

We learned that our actions directly resulted in someone else’s positive or negative experience of us. Adults abdicated their sovereignty to us and we became unwitting puppet masters, both adept at manipulation and fully responsible for someone else’s feelings. Incidentally, this is a confounding and (I’ll just say it) grotesque amount of power for an adult to give away, to a child or an adult.

This may or may not be news to some folks: You can’t *make* someone adore you, despise you, or feel any particular way about you (nor can anyone *make* you feel things about them). We don’t possess that kind of power over one another.

I am not saying we don’t affect and impact one another. We do. We affect each other materially and emotionally and physically and spiritually—we are relational beings… and.

How someone else chooses to interpret and judge us is not something we can control. We can try (I have) and it is… e x h a u s t I n g. What resides inside another human and shapes their experience of us belongs to them and is ultimately their business. We can ask and try to understand if we want to -and- other people’s thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and beliefs are not ours to control or manipulate if we want to honor their sovereignty and our own.

Our choices, responsibilities, and consequences are ours. Other people’s internal experiences of us are theirs.

Mind your business and do what you came to do.