Who’s Controlling You?

I have a most beautiful client-who has the most heinous sister. 

Just ask her.

She said she wanted to have nothing to do with her sister, and was very upset that her sister pissed her off so much.

So, I asked her if she would rather like her sister or not like her sister.

She said if those were the only two choices she would rather like her.

(Now, I realize that in her mind she is imagining liking a much more well behaved sister.)

I told her that I had some great news for her.

I told her that her sister was not making her mad.

I told her that her thoughts were.

Then I asked her who she thought felt the "dislike" when she was disliking her sister.

She said her sister.

But then I asked it again.  Who feels YOUR dislike for your sister?  Who feels that emotion?

Then she realized it was her own self who felt the dislike.  It was her who felt that negativity in her own body.

I explained to her that I thought the reason she said she would rather like her sister was for her own sake.  Because it FEELS better to like than to dislike someone.

And then I told her that she was giving her sister the power to determine how she feels.

Her sister, with her behavior, was sending her an invitation to feel bad and she was accepting with gusto.  Every time her sister behaved in a way that she thought was unreasonable, she felt anger and dislike.

Her sister's behavior dictated her emotions in that moment.

She asked me how to change that.  (She obviously did not like the idea of her sister determining anything for her.)

I told her that she could acknowledge that the truth is her sister cannot determine how she feels without her consent.  She could take a look at the thoughts causing her to feel dislike and anger and find a thought that was more neutral for her.

I did not ask her to go from disliking her sister to loving her sister.

I asked her to try to go from disliking her sister to feeling neutral about her sister.  To do this for her own sake, so she didn't have to feel the unpleasant feeling of disliking someone.

She did.

Her thought changed from: My sister is unreasonable.

To: My sister doing what my sister does.

She felt relief.

Isn't it amazing how we do this to ourselves?  We cause ourselves to feel negative emotions, and we give our emotional control away to someone we claim not to like.

I do it often myself.

Not a good plan.

 I try to remember that I get to decide how to feel, no matter how anyone acts towards me.

That. My friends. Is freedom.