Who is Responsible for How You Feel?

I’m currently reading “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty. In it, he talks about the stages of trust. I like to think of it as a pyramid. When we first meet someone, we have a neutral level of trust between us. After we get to know each other a little better, we move to a contractual level of trust. I will do this for you and you will do this for me. After a bunch of contractual transactions, we might move on to a mutual level of trust. I will do this for you today because I know if I needed you, you would be there for me in the future.  The ultimate level is full trust. These are the people in your circle that you know absolutely will have your back, no matter what.

I had two realizations when I read this.

  1. We have unspoken expectations for persons with whom we have a neutral or contractual trust relationship even though we hardly know them
  2. The amount of unspoken expectations increase as our levels of trust rise

This is why the people we trust most can trigger the most stress when they don’t comply with our unspoken expectations. They should have known better!!

The number one thing I see from my clients that leads to chronic stress is the fact that they think that other people in their life are responsible for how they feel. They think that their boss or coworker saying something makes them feel stressed.

We can’t control the way another adult human acts. They may comply because they want to, but they certainly don’t have to. They are not responsible for making you feel a certain way. You are. The opposite is also true. You are not responsible for how another human feels.

You can trust, love, or respect someone no matter whether they comply with your unspoken rules or not. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. In fact you can have any positive feeling you want to have about that person.

This work has completely changed my relationships. I’m much clearer about my expectations and boundaries and I work really hard to not let what other people do or don’t do, say or don’t say affect my emotions. Of course there are times when my default reaction is to be pissed, but I quickly realize that it’s my choice to be upset and that I cannot control what the other person does, nor are they responsible for how I feel.

Think about the relationship with your boss. Depending on how long you have worked for them, you might have any of the levels of trust in your relationship. What kind of unspoken expectations do you have for them? Are you expecting them to be clairvoyant? Are you communicating your boundaries and enforcing them? Are you telling them where you want to go in your career? Are you allowing your thoughts about their feedback to create stress?

Remind yourself often that you are the one who has control of how you think and feel. No one else does my friends.  When you are aware of this, you can be curious and communicate much more clearly and that leads to a much more effective result in the long run, not to mention less stress.

PS: If you are a high achieving technology professional who wants to learn how to be more resilient to stress to be healthier and more balanced, I’d like to invite you to join my free Facebook group “The High Achiever’s Stress Management Collective”. I’m excited to see you there! I go live every Sunday night at 6:00 PM eastern to discuss a topic and answer your questions.

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