What I learned about feelings serving as a juror on a murder trial
Last week I was summoned to jury duty and I was picked. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be picked. And for a murder trial of all offenses. I spent five days from 9-to-5 listening intently as the DA and the defense attorney asked question after question to witness after witness. People are enamored when I tell them about the experience.
A 31 year old husband and father was the defendant. He had killed another man. It wasn’t an allegation. It was a fact. He was on camera. The victim messaged the defendant’s wife on Facebook. He told her how pretty she was. Typical social media flirting. Initially I thought this was a crime of jealousy and insecurity. However, as I listened to the witnesses and read through the phone transcripts from calls the defendant made while in jail one thing became incredibly clear. This man let his feelings get the best of him.
On multiple occasions the defendant said the victim humiliated him. This wasn’t a crime of jealousy or even a crime of passion. This was a crime of feelings. The defendant felt humiliated and he didn’t know how to channel that feeling. His ego whispered to him, “You can’t let this man make you feel humiliated. You can’t let him make you look insignificant or foolish.”
Most of us would never go so far as to take a life because we’re “in our feelings.” But we do let our feelings control our lives, ruin our relationships and more. What is being controlled by your feelings killing for you? What chances, what relationships, what goals have died because of how someone made you feel?
I have learned that feelings aren’t really about other people. Nothing really is. Everything starts and ends with us. Feelings are about ourselves. No one can really make you feel humiliated or embarrassed or even happy for that matter. Either we control our feelings or our feelings control us, but no one outside of ourselves can control our feelings for us. Sometimes we give people too much credit. The defendant in this case relinquished responsibility and control of himself by proclaiming that the victim made him feel humiliated and he lost it. A better term would be to say he threw it away. He didn’t lose it. It (whatever it is) was in his possession all along until he decided to forgo it in exchange for his ego, his feelings.
At the end of this experience, I feel compelled to renew my commitment to control and direct my feelings. To give my feelings time to pass as they always do. To not let temporary feelings lead to permanent results in my life. What about you? What are you going to do with your feelings?