One of the things that I understand as being a core part of polyamory is emotional processing, or as the Cunning Minx puts it, “owning your own shit.”
Actually, I don’t think that this is an inherent part of polyamory at all and that it’s useful in general life and for all forms of relationships beyond casual flings.
I refer myself back to the time that I went to a Zen Buddhist center for meditation. I realize that my feelings are my own. No one else makes me feel the things that I feel. It is my responsibility alone to deal with my own feelings. No one else can control them. I cannot control other people to change the way that I feel.
What does that mean?
It means that when I feel bad, it is up to me whether I hang on to the negative emotion and keep it embraced close to my heart or whether I let it pass and leave room in my heart for positive emotions.
For example, if I feel fear that a partner will leave me for someone else (one of the many forms of jealousy), I cannot control that partner to make me feel less fear. The fear is mine. Like a spider, one can look at it and feel no fear, another feels terror. The spider has no innate trait that causes fear. It is the person looking at it that creates that fear within themselves.
Does that mean it is up to me to choose how I feel?
You have no conscious choice over how you feel. Your emotions are there several seconds before you consciously register them. However what you do with your emotions is up to you. If you hang on to them, they persist longer in your heart and mind. So surely hanging on to positive emotions will help you feel generally better and hanging on to negative will help you feel worse. Through techniques such as meditation, it is possible to train your subconscious to be more positive and less negative.
Does this mean that I can treat people how I want and it’s not my fault if they feel bad?
No. The emotions you create in others through your actions are real. You can expect to generate certain emotions through certain actions, but you have no direct control over that. Quite simply, you’d be a dick if you purposely do things that you know will probably cause bad feelings or act without thought to others.
So what should I do?
I can’t tell you that. It’s up to you. If you want to find the source of a negative emotion, you could try dealing with it (although I disagree that jealousy is an emotion, it’s a topic that crops up a lot when people are finding out about or are new to polyamory, so this article is a very good one to follow).
You could try to avoid it (good luck, especially if you don’t know what your triggers are).
You could try to control your environment so that it never comes up (doubly good luck).