I’m not totally sold on the idea that my thoughts cause my feelings. My teenager really does say negative things to me—I don’t just “think” she does.

It is never your teenager. You can’t outsource your feelings. Her actions are caused by her feelings and her thoughts cause her feelings, not yours. Everything your daughter says is neutral. You get to choose whether or not to make it negative with your own thinking. What you think about what your daughter says is what causes your feelings. If you believe her or think she is disrespecting you or if you think she should be behaving in a way that is different from reality, you will feel pain.

No one causes your feelings but you. We know it’s hard to break the habit of thinking, “She hurt my feelings,” but that thought is always a lie. You hurt your feelings each and every time.

Now, again, this is not condoning her behavior or suggesting you just let her walk all over you. Just consider the idea that you are choosing to believe what she says, so you hurt your own feelings. Once you see that, you can break free of getting triggered by what she says or does. Then you are in a better position to negotiate healthy boundaries. If you try to change the way she acts, from a triggered state, then you’ll just escalate the situation.

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