Everyone is responsible for their own feelings.

When we tell everyone that they’re “responsible for their own feelings,” we lose something we need desperately in our world: compassion.

I see it time and time again when someone mentions being triggered, or when someone has a hard time dealing with a confrontation. There’s always that one person (or several people) proclaiming, “no one controls your feelings but you.” Or “You’re responsible for your own feelings.” Or they quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  And while all that might be true, it ignores one very important factor: the aggressor is responsible for the actions they take, too. And they’re responsible for the consequences of those actions.

Yes, you have some responsibility for how you make people feel.

There have been a couple of times in my life when I was going through a terribly difficult time, and along came the straw that broke the camel’s back. You don’t know what people are going through, and you don’t know if you’re going to be that straw for someone. So treat people with kindness.

True, you don’t have control over other people’s feelings, and you can’t live your life stepping on eggshells in fear of setting someone off. However, that doesn’t give you license to demean others, call them names, and tell them to just deal with the feelings you’re causing. Yes, you do have partial responsibility for how you make people feel. And you should act accordingly.


"You're Responsible for Your Own Feelings." But where does compassion come in? www.marianamcdougall.com. In an age of "me first," we need to take responsibility for how we make others feel. BackgPhoto by Rémi Walle on Unsplashround


So the next time you feel inclined to tell someone “you’re responsible for your own feelings,” think back to what you have said to that person or what might have been said to them. Consider the history you might not be aware of—how this person might still be working really hard at healing from an abusive relationship. How this person might have a loved one on their deathbed and is especially vulnerable in this moment. How this person needs compassion and unconditional love desperately, and how all you’re giving them is disdain.

Consider how your own self-development journey into being someone who isn’t affected by “triggers” might be playing out for the people around you. It’s great to be strong and “trigger-proof,” but if that makes you someone without compassion and without love for others, was it worth it? Consider that perhaps not everyone is as strong as you. That everyone experiences things differently and is at a different point in their journey. That in the time it takes for you to say, “only you can manage your feelings,” that person may be having physical symptoms from an anxiety disorder, and you’re exacerbating those symptoms with your lack of compassion. And that’s just one example.

Stop judging others for their reaction to events and start offering a listening ear, a “walk a mile in their shoes” attitude, and learn that your way of dealing with things doesn’t have to and never will be everyone’s way.

And most importantly, remember this: people won’t always remember how emotionally strong you were, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Want to leave your mark on this world? Stop belittling those who are still healing from emotional upheaveal and are struggling to not let things affect them. Want to leave your mark on this world? Let people remember that you made them feel wonderful. Want to leave your mark on this world? Be kind. 

Do You Believe in Romance After Kids?

Romance after kids: Is it possible?

I’m not going to lie: romance after kids is hard. After having my third child, romance fell to the bottom of my priority list. Between diaper changes (and EC life), caring for two toddlers while breastfeeding and getting used to a newborn, keeping up a house and cooking, there wasn’t much time left for anything else. By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, and I just wanted to sleep. And many moms of young children feel the same way. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Keeping the romance alive in your marriage is not only possible, it’s an important part of a thriving relationship.

do you believe in romance after kids? www.marianamcdougall.com, woman and man's hands holding each other,  Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


It’s a sad statistic that 13% of marriages end within 5 years of a child being born. But it’s also not difficult to see why. You’re adding a whole new person to your life, after all, and priorities certainly shift when this happens. A baby needs their parents 24/7, and there’s often resentment on the primary caregiver’s part when their partner isn’t as involved as they should be.

There’s also the sheer exhaustion of interrupted and low quality sleep, because babies don’t care how tired you are. While dealing with all of this, it’s no surprise that some (or a lot) of stress is added to your marriage. But there are some things you can do to make romance after baby a reality. Here are some tips.

1. Adapt.

Before any tips will work, it’s important to remember that when you have young children, the ability to adapt is paramount. So maybe you can’t leave your newborn, breastfeeding baby for three days while you go on a romantic vacation, but you can certainly still have a few romantic moments. For example, you could get a baby carrier and take a stroll holding your partner’s hand. It’s not a honeymoon in the Bahamas, but it’s something.

2. Make date nights at home a regular thing.

Sometimes, moms and dads alike are way too tired to get out of the house after caring for baby. When that’s the case, a romantic date night at home makes sense. You can have dinner by candlelight with baby nearby, watch a movie or an episode of a TV show while sharing a drink (yes, breastfeeding mothers can drink in moderation), or look at old photos together. The options are limitless; you just have to be a little creative.

3. Show your partner your appreciation.

Whether it’s thanking them for doing their part in the hard job of parenting, telling them you love them on a frequent basis, or committing to giving them a passionate kiss everyday, show your partner you love them and appreciate them, despite your shifted priorities.

4. Remember: the days are long, but the years are short.

Believe it or not, there’ll come a time when you have fond memories of the difficulties  of parenting. My kids are still pretty young, and I still remember how hard things were when they were newborns. Yet, sometimes I miss it when they were babies and dependent on me for everything (and didn’t have the words to talk back…) 

Don’t let the stress of parenting take away from the love that made you a parent in the first place. Sometimes, when we’re exhausted, it’s easy to only see the negatives. Remember to see the positives, too—chances are, your partner is also exhausted and you both need each other’s support. And if you really feel like you’re taking the brunt of the parenting tasks, it’s time to ask for help.

5. Communicate clearly about your needs.

If you’re exhausted and feel that you need more help, simply ask. Many women complain that their partners aren’t involved enough in household and parenting duties; yet, they have never spoken to their spouse about their frustration. Your partner can’t read your mind, so it’s important that you simply ask for the help you need. Tell your partner lovingly and specifically what kind of help you require. You will probably get the help you need, and save yourself a lot of resentment and friction in your marriage.

Remember to keep communicating, set aside at least one day a week when you spend some one-on-one time with your spouse (even if it’s with baby in tow), and remember the love that made you parents in the first place.

How do you keep romance alive in your marriage?

Valentine’s Day? No thanks.

Valentine’s Day has never been a big day for me and hubby. Perhaps it’s because Valentine’s day is not celebrated in Brazil (where I’m originally from); perhaps it’s because I smelled consumerism from a mile away the minute I heard about this holiday. Perhaps it’s both.

Whatever the reason might be, early on in our relationship I let my then-boyfriend (now husband) know that I neither expected nor wanted anything for Valentine’s Day, save maybe a letter or a card. And this was not a test; I actually meant what I said (why do women do that? “Test” their partners? Mean what you say, please).

Continue reading “Valentine’s Day? No thanks.”

An open letter to those sharing anti-immigration sentiments on Facebook.

The following post isn’t about writing. It isn’t about following dreams (well, at least not directly). But something has been on my mind since seeing a terrible meme on Facebook, and I needed to get these words out there. I was too disappointed for words after seeing someone who is supposedly a friend post anti-immigration sentiments on Facebook. What does that say about our supposed friendship? How does this person truly see me? Why is there this hatred of people in search of a better life, who are fleeing from unspeakable acts of violence? It is this kind of hatred and prejudice that creates the need for refugees to immigrate in the first place. Please, take the time to read my letter, and really consider the impact of your posts on social media before clicking the next share button on such a thoughtless meme.

Please note that this letter is my sole opinion and sentiment and does not represent the views of the Canadian Naval Reserves or any other military branch.

An open letter to those sharing anti-immigration sentiments on Facebook.

Continue reading “An open letter to those sharing anti-immigration sentiments on Facebook.”