At CLC, we just concluded the Un-Stuck sermon series. During the final message, we looked at a key cause that gets us stuck relationally. We tend to “own” what doesn’t belong to us, and we tend to be irresponsible for what does.
Each of us must take responsibility for our “inner world.” This includes our thoughts, feelings, “am’s” (e.g. who I am as a person), and “am nots” (e.g. who I am not). Our inner worlds also include choices, behaviors, attitudes, appearances, abilities, and desires.
The reality is, all of the above are within YOUR control. You can’t blame someone for “making you feel a certain way.” Someone might “trigger” a certain emotion, but you have the CHOICE of how far to cultivate that feeling or to curtail it. Someone may suggest, or even try to coerce you to behave in a certain way, but you are the ONLY person who can truly control your choices, behaviors, thoughts, and so on.
Far too often, we “GIVE” control of these parts of our “inner world” to others. We allow ourselves to be manipulated, shamed, or stressed into doing, being, and choosing what we truly don’t want to do, but then again, we “gave in.”
On the flip side, we also tend to “own” what isn’t ours to own. You CANNOT be responsible for someone else’s feelings, choices, or internal well-being. To truly be responsible for it, you must have complete control over such things…and you DON’T.
So, how does this relate to being un-stuck relationally?
- Stop blaming others for your internal well-being (what you own). Yes, they may have done undesirable things to you, manipulated you, hurt you, etc, but only YOU can determine the long term impact they have on YOU. Choose your well-being.
- Stop owning other people’s feelings, happiness, choices, attitudes, and overall well-being. They too must make their choices. You may have done things wrong, if so, apologize and ask for forgiveness. It is then up to THEM what they do with that, they can forgive or hold a grudge, it simply isn’t in your control. It would be NICE if they forgive you, but you can’t control their decision, and shouldn’t pin your well being to whether they do or do not.
Also, you can’t “Make them happy.” In fact, you can’t “make” them anything, for that matter. Your parents, children, spouse, friends, in-laws, co-workers must ALL decide for themselves what they are going to cultivate in their inner worlds. Don’t yield to the guilt or manipulation that you are responsible for their happiness. Yes, you can do things that may contribute one way or another, but THEY must truly decide.
Once you own what is truly yours and don’t own what is theirs, you increase the chances that at least YOUR side of your relational world will be healthier. Start today. Take baby steps. Get a copy of the “Un-Stuck” book if you haven’t picked one up yet. Pray for wisdom as you grow in this area.
You may also want to check out copies of “Boundaries” or “Boundaries in Marriage” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend to learn how to get yourself “off the hook” for everyone else’s happiness and well-being.