I love going to the farmers market on a sunny Sunday morning. Actually, I love going to the market any day of the week, it’s just that normal week days are often too busy for a leisurely walk through stands filled with inviting fruit and vegetables, nick knacks, pots and pans, old rusty tools, tempting pastries and cakes, clothes and pottery to name just a few. On some days I am going home with bags full of goodies, on other days I just stroll and buy nothing.
I woke up this morning thinking how close life resembles the market. There is so much on offer, there are so many different experiences one can have, yet I don’t have to ‘buy’ into it. The stand holders can’t make me buy anything if I don’t want to. Sometimes I let myself be talked into buying something I later regret. Still, it’s me making the decision to buy. My thoughts about what I see in front of me create a feeling of wanting which then leads to a purchase.
Isn’t it puzzling how easy people can see the logic behind “the stand holder can’t make me purchase anything” whereas it’s much harder to see the logic behind “only my own thoughts create my feelings”. Whenever I talk about how one’s thoughts create one’s feelings, people come with extreme examples to justify the notion that circumstances create our feelings. Jobs create feelings of stress, relationships create feelings of happiness or despair, poverty creates feelings of depression, the economy and or the future create worry … and so on. A common argument is “everybody would be angry when xyz happens”. They overlook that just because many people buy apples at the market doesn’t mean the stall holder made them buy.
When we witness child abuse and feel feelings of anger, it’s not the child abuse that causes our feelings but our thinking, our meaning making of what we see that creates the feelings. It’s not a matter of morals, of what we should or shouldn’t feel, it’s a matter of how we as human beings are made up, it’s about our biology. Our feelings may be understandable and shared by many others – it doesn’t take away from the fact that each human being creates his or her own feelings.
When we say to a loved one “… you make me happy”, we are incorrect. It’s our thinking about the person, what we chose to see and notice at the moment about him/her, how we picture our future possibilities with the other person that creates our feeling state.
Isn’t it liberating to know that nobody and no circumstance can make you feel anything – that it’s all our own doing? It means we have to take responsibility for our own unpleasant feelings … like being upset and grumpy when the car breaks down and we miss an important appointment or date.
Next time you are in a sticky situation think about the market. Are you willing to buy?