Being an adult means taking responsibility for my own emotional life.

Adults do not blame other people for their inner state. They do not project their feelings onto external stimuli. They avoid expressions like, “You make me feel…”

The independent California spiritual teacher, Adyashanti expresses this truth with clarity saying,

Nobody is making you feel what you’re feeling. Nobody has the power to make you feel something negative emotionally. Your reactions are caused by how you interpret any situation. This is so important because it means that you ultimately become your own resource of emotional freedom and truth. The Way of Liberating Insight

Turmoil and negative emotion are frequently triggered by the story I attach to the circumstances of my life. It is the narrative I build around a situation that causes the pain. I need to pay attention to the way I “interpret any situation.” I need to be honest about the fact that my story about you and your behaviour, thoughts, words, or deeds is always just my story. It may or may not have any bearing in reality.

I am circling the drain when I allow my mind to become obsessed with:  “She should not have said that.” “He should have done this.”  “This is not fair.” “It’s just not right.” “He is wrong.” “She needs to apologize.” “I have been hurt.”

I respond as an adult when I step aside from the story I have built and ask, “What is it in this situation that causes me to attach to it a pain-story?” “How do I hope to benefit from the way I am interpreting this event?” “What am I trying to protect by choosing anger, defensiveness, retaliation, or bitterness?” “What attachments are revealed in my pain?” “What wisdom does my reactivity have to teach?”

Yes there are situations that are wrong and broken. But I am not well-served when I attempt to navigate using the radar of judgment. When I divide life into “wrong” or “bad,”  and “right” and “good,” I miss the deeper wisdom. It is exhausting to live constantly as a victim of my like and dislikes. There is no freedom when I live on the roller coaster of my reaction to external circumstance.

Many things in life may be broken, confusing, and painful. But, my emotions all lead to a dead-end unless I face honestly my identification with a particular interpretation of events and acknowledge what it is in me that has become reactive.

The key is to disconnect from my story. Your actions, words or attitudes are not about me. They are about you. They come from your personal journey and your inner state.

The things in you that I find difficult are most likely a manifestation of your unacknowledged pain. When my unacknowledged pain collides with your unacknowledged pain, we have the recipe for a perfect storm of emotional conflict, confusion and chaos. The only way out of the storm is to step aside from the narrative and acknowledge that I have become attached to my pain-story and allowed it to become my identity.

Freedom lies in taking ownership for my internal state. I am free when I am able to see my life situations as they are. Only then will I be able to choose how I want to respond without being tangled in the mess of language, judgment, identification, and reaction.