An African teaching says we all have two minds: the Mother Mind and the Warrior Mind. The Warrior Mind thinks linearly. The Mother minds thinks this side, then that side, upwards and downwards. In other words, the Mother Mind thinks holistically.
Many of us women are Mother Mind dominant. This means we see things from multiple perspectives, we aim for win-win solutions, we’re more democratic than autocratic and we’re willing to bend in order to be agreeable.
It also means we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes, feel what they’re feeling, and get easily pulled into their dramas. We ache with other people’s pains, ruminate on how to help and give a lot of our energy to problems that are not necessarily ours to solve. We can care too much for our own good. We have to learn to care less. Or, better said, we have to learn to care wisely.
Caring wisely requires having good boundaries, knowing what’s real in the other person’s drama and what isn’t, and managing your own emotions.
I hear it all the time: “S/he is making me angry/ upset/ sad (insert emotion here)”. “My boss makes me hate going to work.” “My boyfriend’s irresponsibility is making me crazy.” “My child is struggling and it makes me upset.” “My friend is hurting and that makes me hurt to.”
Really? How exactly does anyone make you feel something? The truth is, no-one has that power! No-one can MAKE YOU FEEL anything. You make yourself feel what you’re feeling through the story you are telling about that person or situation. Have you ever felt sorry for someone when you thought they were suffering? Then you got more information and suddenly you felt differently? A friend told me his business was struggling. Times had changed. Staffing was difficult. He wondered how he would keep his doors open. I felt anxious for him, imagining how it would feel to close my doors, not pay my mortgage and possibly end up on the street. I worried. I brainstormed ways to help. Then I learned that he still drew a 6-figure salary! Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad for him! In fact, I felt annoyed…blaming him, in my mind, for ‘making me feel anxious’. Did he really make me feel that way? No. I did that to myself by having weak boundaries.
You will know your boundaries are in question when you say: “s/he is making me feel …..” It is wiser to simply name what you’re feeling without making the other person responsible for it. Instead of “you’re making me feel …..” just say: “I’m feeling …..”. Then get curious. Here are three questions you could then ask to deepen that relationship or expand your self-awareness:
1 – I’m feeling …(fill in the blank)…. Do you (other person) intend for me to feel this way?
2 – I’m feeling …(fill in the blank)…. Is this how you (other person) are feeling?
3 – I’m feeling …(fill in the blank)…. What is this saying about my Value System?
You are not wrong for having feelings.
They are messengers, giving you valuable information about your connections, your values and your purpose. Use them wisely.
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