Thursday Thought — Feelings Are Not an Excuse for Behavior
The definition of adulthood is: the time when we are ready to be fully responsible for our actions. Children do make choices, but not to the same extent that adults do; their feelings often overwhelm them and take over their behavior. For adults, however, our feelings are no excuse for our behavior.
The controlling man typically hides behind his feelings to avoid being answerable for what he does, with claims such as:
“I couldn’t help how I acted; you made me too angry.”
“I go crazy when I feel that jealous, because I love you so much.”
“What do you expect me to do after you hurt my feelings like that?”
“There’s only so much a guy can take.”
Your partner may blame you for his actions because (he says) you caused his feelings. Now, it’s questionable whether you even caused the feelings that came up for him — controlling men often have emotional reactions that make no sense — but even if you did, you didn’t cause how he decided to act on those feelings; that’s on him.
The reality is that feelings do not cause behavior. Even actions that look like instant, spontaneous reactions are governed by choice. Our feelings can certainly give us the urge to do certain things, but they don’t control us.
So what does determine our actions? The answer is our values, attitudes, and habits. If we consider violence or threats unacceptable behavior, then we don’t use them no matter how angry we get. For example, most men never hit or threaten to hit their partners, even when they are enraged. If we are honest people, we don’t start lying when we’re upset. If we don’t believe in abusing alcohol, then we don’t start getting drunk daily after a painful loss.
And that means it isn’t his feelings that need to change, it’s his attitudes.
(Entry from Lundy Bancroft’s Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? [*Affiliate link] pp245-6)
***IMPORTANT NOTE: While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.
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