This might be Maya Angelou’s most famous quote:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
And, it’s based on a Myth. Nobody can make you feel anything. People can do all sorts of hateful and hurtful things. These behaviors can be strong invitations to feel a certain way, but they are only invitations. Only you can give consent for your feelings. If you believe others can make you feel good, or bad, you’ve given up control over your dignity and self-determination.
I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of Angelou’s statement. I know that because she also said this:
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Our attitudes about ourselves and others is probably the biggest determinant of how we will feel about their behavior.
If my attitude is that I am only OK if I please you, then I will allow you to “make me feel bad” or “make me feel good” and give in to keep the peace.
If my attitude about you is that you are lazy and uncommitted, then I will try to “make you feel bad” to get what I want.
Conflict without casualties requires that we stop believing myths about emotions and start taking responsibility for our feelings.
Things to Ponder
- What do you believe, say or do that reinforces the myth that others can make you feel?
- What can you change today to take back control over your emotions and behavior?