Have you ever felt responsible for someone else feeling bad? When it’s someone you love and care about, that can be a pretty negative place to be. And of course, no matter how you apologize, try to make it up to them, and tip toe around being really nice, you just can’t “make” them feel any better.

The reason this experience is so painful is that we cannot take responsibility for anyone else’s feelings but our own. We cannot “make” anyone feel anything, either. Believe me, I’ve tried!

Feelings come from within us.

If we cannot take responsibility for other peoples’s feelings, and no one can “make” us feel a certain way, then here do feelings come from?

Any event, situation, stimulus, or other input that comes to us is first processed through the senses. These include eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch, etc. As information comes at us in its input modalities, our minds process this information incredibly quickly. It’s a pretty efficient thing, the mind. More powerful than any computer, it quickly filters out a lot of what comes in. This is how the brain stays efficient.

As information comes into the brain, some of it is weeded out and discarded immediately. Other input is distorted through our own filters, like past experiences, assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, values, and other lenses. Some of the incoming information is generalized, so we can better manage it.

After the incoming information from an event, situation or stimulus is processed quickly in the mind, it becomes a thought or idea. And that thought is what leads directly to the feelings we feel. Just like our own internal filters create thoughts leading to our feelings, this same process happens for everyone else around us. In essence, the filters we keep and the thoughts we create are what lead to all of our feelings, and we are responsible for them.

What does this mean?

You are responsible for your own feelings in every situation. And, if you are responsible for your feelings, you have the power to choose how to feel. Changing your assumptions, attitudes, and other filters is the most powerful thing you can do to begin controling and managing your feelings.

The next time you are feeling as if someone has “made” you feel bad, sad, or mad, consider the thoughts that happened just in front of those feelings. What did you think about the situation? What assumptions or beliefs might you have adopted? And, are they true?

Challenging your thoughts and taking a serious look at your internal filters puts you in a powerful place. You can change the way you feel and gain control. Focusing on your thoughts is one way to feel better and become aware of assumptions that could lead to negativity or unwanted feelings, so you can start feeling better now.

To dive into this idea and apply it, consider a life coach or coaching program. Working with an invested coach to free yourself of emotional overload can help you build confidence and have much more satisfying relationships.