Look at me getting thematic.

I like to ask people to make a list of the things they can control.

These are the most common answers I get.

My thoughts

My emotions

My kids

My life

My body

My pets

You’ll notice, even though none of the things on this list are under our control, other people do not appear on it. Even when we are listing things we think we can control (and getting it wrong) we don’t even consider putting other people on the list.

Yet we let so much of our happiness rest on it.

We constantly outsource our emotional wellbeing to this thing we know we cannot control.

We do this by:

Taking offense to what others say, think, or believe

Believing this offense means something

Wishing others would do something different

Seeking to manipulate or coerce others into doing what we want

Thinking our unhappiness rests on what they do or do not do

Thinking our happiness rests on what they do or do not do

Thinking anything going on inside of us actually has something to do with them

The fun part is that they are probably thinking the same things about us.

We are stuck in this web of interactions where everyone is blaming everyone else for how they feel, and then wondering why nothing is getting better.

For some reason the primary narrative of the media and the social sciences pushes the idea that others are responsible for our internal emotional state too.

This isn’t helpful.

Something we’ve done before, and we’ll probably do again:

Today, whenever something related to another person makes you unhappy, ask yourself what it might be like if you took responsibility for your own emotional state.

There is the other person and their actions, and then there is your reaction.

You only have control over one of these things.

And it isn’t them.