You Can’t Make Me

{Note: Personal transformation stories from Polaris Institute members
are published anonymously to allow the members to share openly and
honestly. This story is from “Tom B.”)


There is a phrase I’ve probably said ten thousand times in my life: “you make me…”. It might have been “you make me so angry,” “you make me feel good,” or some other semantic  variation like “you turn me on” or “you’re pissing me off.” And, of course, there are all the “they” variations, too: “they are driving me nuts,” “they got me fired up,” and so on.

Stop making me feel this way


One place this happened all the time for me was in my marriage. Both of us did it. She made me angry. I made her frustrated. She made me happy. I made her feel loved. We spent countless hours in couples therapy talking about how we made each other feel…and how we could change how we were making the other person feel. But, we never really made much progress. Then, I had a realization in my Polaris Institute work.

Uh, how do “they” do that?


It occurred to me that there are no electronic diodes attached to my skull. And as far as I know, my wife doesn’t have mental telepathy. She doesn’t have a a superpower where she can shoot a beam through space into my head. So, how exactly was she “making” me feel something emotional like anger? From an engineering perspective, there was no mechanism where she could “make” me anything. And the ultimate proof of that was that sometimes, I got angry when (or because) she hadn’t done anything at all! The day I realized that was the day that things opened up for me.

Observe with curiosity


The ability to pause and step back for a minute when I’m having an emotional reaction that I learned as part of the Polaris ProcessTM gave me the opportunity to see that no one else was making me anything. I was making me angry. And if I was making myself that way, I could make myself not that way. Suddenly, there was a choice available. I’m still exploring the power of this new awareness, but the possibilities for being the person I want to be have really opened up for me and I’m excited to continue down this path to see what else there is to learn.

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