“I’m not making you feel bad” the phrase we’ve all been told during a fight, and have also probably said ourselves a time or two when confronted by someone else’s feelings. And it’s true: our feelings are our own. No one can force us to feel one way or another.

Still, we are rather permeable beings who can be hurt by others! We’re often hurt more by words and actions more than anything else, as we hope others love, appreciate, and accept us. It’s hard when sarcasm, avoidance, smothering, annoyance, or even silence make us wonder if instead we’re unlovable.

So how can you find your own inner strength and strong center when you start feeling affected by others? This is an especially important topic of conversation for all empaths, perfectionists, and co-dependents out there.

Whose Problem Is It??

The essential first step to figuring out what’s going on inside is determining what’s the problem here and who’s problem is it?

This will help you realize if it’s an internal wound that’s being triggered to solve for yourself, or if your fixer/mediator has been ignited and you’re trying to solve someone else’s problem.

Think to a time when someone you loved lost something important. In my circle these moments usually lead to heavy sighs, irritation mounting with doors being closed harder, stomping around etc. Here it’s easy to recognize that their behavior has nothing to do with me, and their problem is their own. Even though I could help look for the keys, it’s not my fault and I don’t need to take it on to make things better.

When you start identifying the problem and whose it is, it becomes easier to separate yourself from it. It doesn’t mean you can’t help find a solution, or be of service in one way or another, but at least you won’t get wrapped up in the emotion of is all- which is the main goal here!

Simply ask yourself whose problem is this, and then take a few breaths while you sort through what comes up for you.

Separating Yourself From The Problem

Then comes untangling yourself from the problem by creating some space inside yourself! This is so important because usually with “a problem” a fight or flight response happens where the ability to think clearly, rationally, and calmly go out the window. You might look calm and collected on the outside, but if what you feel on the inside is all red flags and fear, then this one is for you!

You can start to untangle yourself by asking some of the following questions:

  • What do I *think* is expected of me right now?
  • How much can I reasonably help with what’s wrong?
  • Is this actually mine to own?
  • How do I feel about what’s going on right now?
  • Is how I feel about it because I actually feel this way or because I feel expected to feel this way?
  • How can I resolve what’s going on inside of me right?

As you answer these questions a path to resolution will begin to unfold inside of you, and the answers will vary each and every time. Sometimes you’ll need to walk away to have that space or to keep yourself from feeling bad. Sometimes you will have to atone for your part in the problem and be willing to see how you contributed to the mess you’re dealing with. Either way- with a rational, calm approach you’ll be able to figure out what needs to be done.

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Finally, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with being uncomfortable! Because even both the steps above, you might still be feeling uncomfortable. This is true especially when the problem isn’t solved or the other people involved are still upset, frustrated, or put off.

Here’s what you have to remember:

Uncomfortable does not equal bad or dangerous

It is okay for things to be uncomfortable.

The sooner we learn this and embrace it, the sooner we can begin to let go of the anxieties that come up inside of us.

This practice is one that requires a ton of self talk, tons of self compassion, and honestly, a lot of practice. It takes time to recognize when something is going on for yourself or for others- especially when you’ve been conditioned to take on the role of making everything better.

Take your time, and remember there are others like me that are here to help! Every week I share about my own journey with things like this and offer encouragement on the A Bit From Within Podcast. You can listen to the sister episode to this post where I share about my own commitment to not feeling bad about things that for so long I’ve felt conditioned to feel bad about: Listen below, on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you love to listen) and feel free to share this with your friends who need this message too.

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