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The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know

Do you sometimes feel mystified by your own feelings? Of course, you do!

Believe me when I say that everybody does.

It’s not always obvious why you’ve felt sad all day, for example. In fact, you may go through an entire day feeling sad without even realizing it until the evening. Then once you recognize how you’ve been feeling, you may still be confused about the reasons.

An experience like this is not at all unusual. You would be hard-pressed to find a single human being who hasn’t been there. And if you find someone who says he has never had that experience, it’s probably because he is not sufficiently aware of his feelings to realize that he is having them.

It is true that feelings are unbelievably complicated. Yet they are an integral part of our everyday lives. In fact, it’s truly incredible how much we are actually influenced by what we feel, whether we realize it or not. Our feelings drive our decisions and our actions. They cause us to get into conflicts and to work out problems. They help us choose our mates, our careers, and everything else in our lives.

So think of your emotions as a strong current that carries you through your life. The better you understand that current and work with it, the better you can harness its energy and use it, and the easier your life will be.

Although emotions are complex, they do follow certain rules. Once you know the rules you have a huge leg up on managing and using your feelings in a healthy way.

The 10 Rules Your Emotions Follow

  1. Your feelings do not originate from the part of your brain that is under your control. You cannot choose your feelings.
  2. Feelings are not subject to any moral code. They’re neither good nor bad, right or wrong. They just are what they are.
  3. Even though you can’t choose your feelings, you are responsible for them.
  4. Emotions can be “walled off” but they cannot be extinguished. If you wall off an emotion, it does not disappear. It just goes and lives on the other side of the wall.
  5. Feelings can lead you down the right path or they can lead you astray. It all depends on what you do with them.
  6. When you disregard an emotion, you are actually empowering it. Ignoring, pushing away, or walling off a feeling may seem to make it go away but it’s the feelings you’re the least aware of that can affect you without your knowledge.
  7. There is only one way to make an uncomfortable feeling go away, and that is to let yourself feel it.
  8. Your feelings drive your thoughts, but you can also use your thoughts to manage your feelings.
  9. Sitting with a powerful emotion and letting yourself feel it while thinking about it to understand why you’re having it, what it means, and what it’s telling you, is called “processing it.”
  10. Your feelings are valuable messages from your deepest self. When you follow Rule 9, you are listening to the messages, honoring yourself, and making use of this valuable resource from within.

Since everyone has feelings, literally everyone should know these rules. It would prevent many emotional mistakes and misunderstandings that virtually everyone commonly makes.

Now I’m going to give you a Bonus Emotion Rule. This rule is not included in the first ten because it is special. It may be harder to accept, yet once you do, it can change your life.

Without further ado, here it is:

11.   The way your parents treated your feelings as they raised you is probably the way you treat your own feelings now.

What exactly does this mean? Simply this: childhood is actually Emotion Training For Life. Few people realize it but it is true!

If your parents noticed what you were feeling as they raised you, helped you name your feelings, and walked you through Rule 9 often enough, they taught you the 10 Rules that emotions follow. And they also taught you vital emotion skills that you still enjoy now, whether you realize it or not.

Unfortunately, the converse is also true. If your parents failed to notice your feelings, help you name them, and figure out how to process them, then you likely grew up without learning those skills. Now you likely fail to notice your own feelings, and have a difficult time naming or processing the ones that you do notice.

After many years of watching this exact problem dog person after person after person, holding them back in their lives, and damaging their relationships, I finally realized that this is important. It must be talked about. People need to know.

So I named the problem Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), and I have made it my mission to educate as many as I can about it. The amazing thing about CEN is that it gives you answers. It explains why the 10 Rules Of Emotions are such a mystery to you.

It’s so straightforward, and yet so hard to see: you simply didn’t have a way to learn them as a child.

The very best thing about realizing that you grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect is that it is a very curable problem. Now that you know what is wrong, you can fill in the gaps.

You can learn the 10 Rules, and you will see that it will make a tremendous difference in your life.

CEN can be invisible and unmemorable so it can be difficult to know if you have it. To find out, Take the CEN Questionnaire. It’s free.

To learn much more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it affects you as an adult and how to heal it, see the book Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.

The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know

Jonice Webb PhD

Jonice Webb, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who is recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking work in defining, describing, and calling attention to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). She writes, speaks, and trains therapists on the topic, and is the bestselling author of two books, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. She also created and runs the Fuel Up For Life Online CEN Recovery Program. Since CEN can be difficult to see and remember, Dr. Webb created the CEN Questionnaire and other free resources to help you figure out if you have it. Take the CEN Questionnaire and learn much more about CEN, how it happens, and how to heal it at her website

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APA Reference
Webb PhD, J. (2018). The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jun 2018
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