From our childhood, we are taught and conditioned to believe that we are responsible for causing other people’s feelings and/or that external people/things/situations cause our feelings.
“You made mommy so happy.”
“You’re making her feel sad.”
“Did he hurt your feelings?”
The most powerful truth I can offer is that no one can do or say anything that can create, control, or cause your feelings. Your feelings always come from your thoughts. So, if someone says something, and you feel defensive, the feeling stems from your thoughts about what they said. Even if you are not consciously choosing your thought, it is there. Therefore, the defensiveness is a result of your thought—what you’re making it mean-- not their words.
The work for all of us, is to uncover our unconscious thoughts. The best way to begin is to separate the facts, or circumstances, from the story we have created. The facts are boring, provable, and outside of our control. When separating out the facts, leave out all adjectives, adverbs, and opinions.
It could look like this: a female human being said words (or you could include a direct quote).
Then, when we have separated out the facts, what is left is the story we created to give the facts meaning. The story is made up of sentences, and those sentences are our thoughts.
When we have identified a thought, we need to question it (“What am I making this mean?”), then decide if it serves us and whether we want to keep it. This is the work of choosing our thoughts deliberately. This is where our power lies.