It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear (in and out of the counselling room) they made me feel like that, or it was because of them, that I felt irritated.
And when ‘what they did’ is unpicked, actually 9 times out of 10, your behaviour may not have had to have changed at all.
Ok, let me give you an example;
You are at home, happy and doing your own thing. Let’s say you have some music playing and you are doing the ironing or cooking dinner.
Your partner comes in from work, and as they walk through the door, their face says a million things but definitely not saying they are happy. At this point they may not have spoken, but you have interpreted their face as ‘being in a bad mood’.
You decide to turn the music down as you don’t want to upset them or annoy them further, or you feel they won’t want the music on. You have noticed that you have started to feel tense and your happy feeling has ebbed away and you are now feeling irritated or a bit grumpy.
Ok, did you see what happened there, you may even have been nodding or agreeing as you read the scenario – you may have even added in your own content!
The first thing, was that you presumed they were not happy. They could have been thinking about something or just heard something on the news that concerned them, or indeed taken a difficult call on the way home they were still thinking about.
So, at this point, you could (could being the operative word here), you could ask them how they are? At this point, I would strongly encourage you to maintain your happy demeanour.
Wait for them to reply and if they say fine, great, do not question them, they are an adult and they can choose how they wish to respond – this does not mean at any point, that you need to change your happy feeling.
Now, at this point, I am hoping that you have recognised, what you may have done previously. Ok, let’s keep working through it…
You decided to turn the music down or off, which may automatically change how you are feeling – because you are annoyed that you ‘had to’ turn it down. But my question to you, is did you ‘have to’ turn it down, or did you interpret their behaviour which meant that?
Your partner has just walked through the door, they may not have even noticed the music on or indeed might like the distraction.
Hopefully, that may help you notice how someone else’s behaviour can have an effect on you.
Therefore, I would like to practice and remember.
It is your choice on whether you want to change your behaviour not someone else’s