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How Often Do People Make You Feel Bad?

Every day, I walk down a crowded hallway from my history class, being pushed and trodden on by the swarming masses of idiots that roam my school. And every day I search the oncoming stream of humans for two faces I know will just make my day that much worse. My eyes flicker over husky football players, slutty girls apparently unaware of the dress code, shy nobodies trying to blend into the walls…and then I see them. My ex-boyfriend and the girl he has been dating for… I don’t know. A few months? Before I continue, I must let you know that this is not a pathetic sob story or dramatic soap opera I’ve decided to rant about. It is simply an example.

Back to the ex: to make a long story short, we’ve had a bit of a history, breaking it off finally last February. Sometimes it feels like he still has a little piece of me, even though it’s been so long. And the sight of her still fills me with raging, unreasonable, jealousy. Every day.

Today, I was rushing from my *gag* Algebra II classroom when I saw him in the passage going the other way. Immediately my shoulders sagged a little and the corners of my mouth edged downwards…the ache always hiding just beneath the surface raised its ugly head as I tried to fight it back. My only thought was “Why does he make me feel like this?” And then I remembered a piece of writing I read about a month ago…I can recall neither the title nor the author, or I would be happy to share that information. It was an interesting essay, but I hadn’t really understood it at the time. The message was essentially this: No one can make you feel something without your consent. I had mulled over the idea at the time of reading it, but I had rejected it as being, quite honestly, false. Of course someone can make you feel some type of way; it happens nearly every day. But this afternoon I had an epiphany. 

I decided to smile as I walked past him. Not at him, not at the world to make them think I was okay, but to myself. I told myself I didn’t need to feel this way every time I passed him by – it was making my life a bit miserable. As soon as I realised this, my shoulders lifted and my hair slipped away from my face. I walked a bit straighter, and my thoughts were able to focus on what was important to me at that moment. 

It doesn’t sound like much of a discovery, but I was stoked with the realisation that I had this sort of power. Later in the day, as I was editing spreads in the yearbook room, I felt the anger I so often harbour, caused by idiotic writers, rise to the surface. Being so frustrated with these staff members has been a big struggle lately. But I decided to apply the same method: who gave them this right to control my feelings so indirectly? Me, and me only. I pushed the irritation out of my mind and thought of constructive, positive, ways I could confront the issues with them the next day.

When I used the thought process a third time today, I accepted that it is a truly powerful tool I wield. But there is no specific process or recipe to let it become your philosophy…it took me nearly a month to even realise what it could truly mean. 

I know it sounds like a ridiculously cheesy, cliché (yeah, saying it’s cliche is cliché. Get over yourself)(<— I guess that was cliché too then), mindset to adopt. We obviously control our emotions. But really, think about how many times a day you take on a negative frame of mind…and how often that is caused by someone else. Sure, sometimes you cannot escape the emotions someone else’s words might stir within you.

But the next time a coworker, friend, family member, or even complete stranger “makes” you feel bad…wonder whether you really have to allow them to do so.

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