Recently I've been enjoying the freedom of being unconnected to what other people say or do. Instead of getting angry and having someone else's actions ruin my day, I can now stand back and be slightly more objective about the situation. Unless it is my choice or under my own sphere of influence or control, I don't have to do anything when other people act.
For most of my life, I had an unhealthy connection to what others did. If someone close to me was upset or angry, so was I. If someone I knew made a fool out of themselves, I felt embarrassed. If I was irritated by someone, it would take over all of my emotions until that was all I could feel.
Even typing it now makes me shake my head and wonder why anyone would place their emotional stability in the hands of someone else. It's beyond stupid, but somewhere along the line we learn certain behaviours and we stick with them. They get us by in difficult circumstances, and long after we should have outgrown the need for those skills, it has become an unconscious habit and we end up in lifelong slavery to it.
Unless of course we become aware of what we are doing. It's always rooted somewhere. There is a cause and effect relationship for everything we do, and if we can tie our behaviour back to something, we can become aware of it in a new way and make changes. It takes a lot of practice and courage to change, especially when our pattern begins in childhood and is therefore well cemented by the time we reach adulthood.
Counseling for me has provided so many "aha!" moments where I can connect the dots between what I do now with why I originally started behaving a certain way. There is always a reason. Locating that reason provides an epiphany which can free us from blindly following our impulses. We can make better choices for the stage of life we are in, and for the relationships we have built. We don't have to do what we've always done before, particularly when the reason we acted that way is no longer valid in our life.
Hinging my emotions to my own experience and not everyone else's is freedom of an entirely new sort. It gives me back the control of my own life, and provides me with a better perspective on what other people are doing. Everyone has the right to make their own choices, and each person must live with their consequences. I will live with mine, but I will not live with other people's. We must each carry our own backpack with our own individual rocks, but never again will I fill my pack with someone else's rocks and expect myself to carry that extra weight.