You're in charge of how you feel

When I'm upset, I often think or say the phrase, "you make me feel...". Know what I mean? I'm taking time out of my series on How My Brain Tumor Will Change Your Life to talk about a common emotional trap. Looking outside for what's happening within.

There are a number of ways we can give our power to others, and many, like this one, are subtle.

When you say or think, "You make me feel bad about myself," it may seem like it's the other person's fault. They are angry or did something foolish to upset you.

The truth is that you chose to react this way.

Yes, they may be at fault. And, you have every right to be upset.

Wen you hear yourself saying these words, it's also a sign. "You make me..." signals when we are allowing what's happening around us to affect how we feel about ourselves.

If you don't want to feel bad about yourself, then don't. Feel good about yourself and feel bad about this situation.

Our loss of power, I believe, comes from inextricably linking our sense of self with things happening around us—as if they are dependent on one another.

Or, put another way: how I feel about myself is dependent on how you feel about me, or what's happening in the situation. When written that way, doesn't it begin to make less sense? It did for me.

This emotional trap doesn't only occur when we blame others for how we feel. It's also when we turn events into opportunities for self-loathing.

For example, I dislike arguing, and even more being wrong, so when either is happening my defenses go up. I often start out fine, then later find myself curled up in a ball like a maimed animal as if the other person meant me physical harm.

In reality, I'm harming myself.

At some point along the way, my view of the conversation went from a disagreement, to a diatribe about how utterly wrong I am.

It's my choice how I feel about myself, and how I let people and events alter that.

What's the alternative? Keep yourself out of it.

In both cases—blame and self-loathing—we need to see what's happening and remove ourselves from the equation.

Also, be on guard for the words, "You make me..." If you hear it uttered, step back. Either you or the other person are taking this conversation to a place neither of you want it to go.

Most important: make yourself feel however you want.