Who’s Responsible for My Feelings?

Closeup of a sad man looking over his shoulder at the camera

One of our greatest challenges is to understand what it means to take personal responsibility for our own feelings and behavior. This is especially difficult when someone is behaving in a way that feels unloving to us — attacking, blaming, lying, guilting, and so on. It is so easy to believe that our unhappy feelings are coming from their behavior rather than from our own response to their behavior.

If we pay careful attention to our feelings, we will discover that it is not another’s behavior that is creating our unhappiness but rather our own unloving response. When we respond to another’s unloving behavior by getting angry, blaming, withdrawing, complying, or ignoring it, we will likely end up feeling badly. Our own unloving behavior towards another is also unloving toward our own Inner Child. For example, if we respond to another’s anger by getting angry back rather than setting an appropriate limit against being attacked, our Inner Child will not feel safe. We have not responded from our loving Adult in a way that leads to being treated respectfully. Instead, we have responded from our wounded self, trying to have control over the other’s behavior. Since the other is likely to respond with more anger or withdrawal, our Inner Child ends up feeling badly from the interaction.

I have discovered that whenever I do not set good limits against being treated badly – such as disengaging from the interaction and stating that I don’t want to talk when there is anger or blame – or I respond with anger or blame to another’s anger or blame, I feel awful. It is so easy to think I feel awful because of how I have been treated by the other person rather than because of how I am treating myself and others. When my Adult is present and I respond to another’s anger, blame or other violating behavior by either moving into an intent to learn and/or setting an appropriate limit without anger, shaming or blaming, I feel terrific. In fact, I feel on top of the world. It has been deeply gratifying to me to know that my feelings are always my responsibility because then I can do something about feeling badly — I can practice responding lovingly no matter what.

On one of my morning walks while dialoguing with my spiritual Guidance, she told me that one of my soul’s lessons is to learn to respond lovingly no matter what — no conditions under which it is okay to respond unlovingly. I find this very challenging. As soon as I get it right in one situation, my Guidance arranges for me to be challenged by new situations. This appears to be the way our souls grow when we have opted for spiritual growth. However, we are never given more than we can handle, and each time I manage to respond lovingly in a new situation, my Inner Child feels more and more loved, safe, and valued.

It is so easy to revert to our wounded self and claim that this time my feelings are not my responsibility. This time it really is the other person’s fault. This time they have gone too far and no one could expect me to feel okay in this situation. But each time I manage to keep my Adult present and take good care of my Inner Child, the lesson hits home anew — all my feelings really are my responsibility.


Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?”, “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?”, “healing Your Aloneness”, “Inner Bonding”, and “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?” Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

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