14 thoughts on “10 Facts You Need To Know About Emotions

  • February 28, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for this. I hope our daughter would be willing to discuss this with us as she recovers from an emotional jag.

    • February 28, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Thanks for your comment, Randy – I hope that some of the notes in the post will be helpful to your family.

  • March 1, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Hi, I thought this was a really great, down to earth article with one exception. Due to my personal experience, I take issue with the comment regarding people can’t make us feel anything. I know this is a common pop psychology idea but, in truth, it is glib and superficial for two reasons.

    1. It assumes we are in control of what we feel. A beautiful sunrise can ‘make’ us feel awe, amazement, and contentment even when we were grumpy, angry and stressed allowing us to change our reaction towards our day. Or the child that drew a picture on the wall making one feel angry and frustrated then looking cute as a button saying, “Look Mommy I drew it just for you!” and our anger drains away. I would think that everyone has experienced an unwilling or unexpected change towards our emotional landscape when confronted by something unexpected. I would say that MAKES us feel something we didn’t want to feel.

    2. It assumes there are not people out there who deliberately manipulates our emotions making us feel exactly what they want us to feel. Attacks on our person, our esteem, things we value or take pride in certainly will ‘make’ us feel negative emotions. It was intended to create an emotional response.

    While people, places, and things can ‘make’ us feel emotions we may not have wanted to feel, we typically have the ability to control our reactions. We typically can readjust our emotions using intellect and reasoning once we experience an emotion but to assume or state that nothing can MAKE us feel anything that we aren’t willing to feel is completely outside of the human experience.

    People, places and things can MAKE us feel but can’t make us act. If I was punched in the face, one would expect me to feel fear or hurt or anger. We expect me to feel something. When a person says, “He / She makes so angry” said it really an inaccurate statement? When someone is venting how they were made to feel, it’s minimizing, demeaning and judgemental to dismiss that persons feelings with the shallow and glib remark, “Nobody can make you feel something.”

    • March 1, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Charlie – Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that people and situations can provoke an initial and instinctual emotional response. However, other people are not the sole determinant of our emotions, since, as you say, we can then reevaluate the issue, do a reality check, choose to discontinue the relationship, or allow our reaction to motivate us to action (i.e., transforming our anger into a passion for social activism). Yes, we often cut to the chase by saying “So-and-so makes me angry”, and people know what we mean – but we have a lot of internal resources at our disposal to avoid being a passive and chronic victim of someone else’s attitude or actions. There is a Buddhist parable about our being struck by one arrow (someone’s unkind remark), which causes momentary pain. What we tell ourselves (“He’s right – I’m an idiot”) about the first arrow is the second arrow, and it’s the second arrow (where we can allow other people to perpetually “make” us feel a certain way) that can cause us unnecessary suffering.

      • March 5, 2018 at 11:16 am

        Hi, Rachel,

        That’s for responding. I have to say that I’m not any clearer on the subject of “Other people make me feel certain ways.” than I was before.

        While someone’s unkind comment can or does hurt (Other people make me feel certain ways) believing the unkind comment is a thought not a feeling. If someone says to me, “You’re an idiot,” I can feel hurt or embarrassed or angry or ashamed. If I said that person made me feel hurt, would you respond with ‘no one can make you feel anything”?

        But if I said, “That person made me feel like an idiot,” am I not actually expressing my thoughts versus a feeling? “That person made me think I’m an idiot.” Idiocy is not an emotion as far as I know and if the phrase was,” No One can make you think something,” I would agree and understand this statement.

        Is the phrase is actually referring to thoughts derived by feelings caused by someone’s unkind remark?

      • March 5, 2018 at 4:19 pm

        Hi Charlie – You bring up a good point. It may be partially a matter of semantics. The term “feeling” has a number of definitions, including an “often unreasoned opinion or belief” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). So, an interpretation of “He’s right — I’m an idiot” could indeed be a feeling if it’s a belief that we haven’t thought through yet. Hope this helps!

      • March 5, 2018 at 6:48 pm


        Thanks for responding. I see what you mean; however, I’m wondering if you are aware of (what I at least consider) the unhealthy use of the phrase (people can’t make me feel certain ways) which I referenced in the first post as my experience.

        I had a conflict with a friend awhile back in which two current pop psychology phrases has become my pet peeves. Long story short, I addressed an issue I had with her reactiveness. I stated that when she becomes silent on our phone conversations I cannot tell if she’s thinking about what I said or if she was getting angry. I told her that her silences made me feel anxious. Her response was, “I’m not responsible for your feelings (pet peeve #1.).

        I calmly responded that no she is not responsible for my feelings, I am, which is why I’m bringing the topic up. I also talked about how she has lashed out in the past (unkind remarks, snapping, yelling.) I explained I was becoming anxious in anticipating what type of reaction I was going to receive. It’s was making me anxious. Her response was, “No one can make you feel anything.” (Pet peeve #2)

        As you can imagine, I am no longer friends with her. I cannot imagine how two women can be friends if one is completely unconcerned on how they affect the other. However, both of those phrases caused and continue to cause me a lot of anxiety. It is very easy to marginalize and dismiss someone using these phrases and when they are taught by the mental health profession, really how can you refute them? And, yes, I realize I sound like a victim but when you take the unsafe road, trust that someone cares about you, open up, be vulnerable and deal with a problem or conflict being therapy-ed into silence is a hurt that sticks with a person.

        Our society is becoming very unkind and inconsiderate of others. For mental health to teach a phrase without proper context will and does allow others to be more unkind and more inconsiderate and justify their behavior as “healthy.” While I realize this was probably not how it is intended, it is becoming very popular and has been used against me two other times since when I tried to express my feelings to others and I’ve overheard it used and seen others hurt by either or both of these phrases. They expressed the same hurt and disbelief I did.

      • March 6, 2018 at 8:26 am

        Charlie, it sounds as if your friend may have responded defensively to the comment that she “made” you feel a certain way. It can often be more effective to state that “When you — [act a certain way], “I feel [sad, angry, etc.], which does not blame the other person for how you feel. Sometimes the other person is then more able to hear you – but not always, and if this becomes a pattern, case you may choose to have less contact with this person.

      • March 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm

        Charlie: I totally understand what you are trying to say. My mother, a retired family, marriage & alcohol counselor, uses those two remarks you are trying to explain. I know I am not the only one of my 7 siblings that when we hear her say “No one can make you feel xyz”, we instantly feel shame and/or anger. She uses it to cut us off from trying explain how we are feeling. For me it is automatic shame & I am 65 years old. I have been through therapy several different times & there is no way I can believe that is a true statement.

      • March 14, 2018 at 12:11 pm

        Topstitch: Thanks for the reply validating the marginalizing statement, “No one can make you feel anything.” This statement is actually a statement meant to win in a conflict and is what I was trying to explain with my example. It is meant to shame and shut down someone’s ability to voice their feelings and thoughts. I’m sorry you experienced this with your mother; she took away your voice.

        Rachel: It is extremely unfortunate that many in the mental health community, those who are supposed to be leaders in healthy, assertive feeling, thinking and behavioral functioning are closed minded and defensive regarding the outcomes to what they teach. It is a great responsibility to ensure the advice or opinions by such influential people do not create harm in others. Being defensive, using the semantic argument, and shifting blame are defensive strategies meant to not internalize the rights of another person and is disempowering. We cannot be ‘perfect’ in how we voice a complaint. I was calm, respectful, and assertive. To state I didn’t eggshell walk well enough puts the ‘blame’ on me in how I was phrasing and excuses the closed minded, defensiveness of the person who behaved badly. It’s a pretty handy rationalization/excuse to say a person didn’t state their complaint well enough so I don’t have to listen or respond to it. We have a responsibilty and obligation in relationships to manage our own feelings which includes defensiveness. Do you really think this creates healthy relationship dynamics?

  • March 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Aren’t emotions the product of your assessment of a situation-as in ‘is this a good thing or a bad thing for me?’ Then if the emotion is painful you could ask what you’re telling yourself to cause that emotion.

    • March 1, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Derek — Yes, emotions can carry important messages. You’re also right that we can examine how we’re interpreting a situation and how this is impacting our feelings.

  • May 20, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Wise words on emotions. Saving for a future talk I am planning on emotions, thoughts,, and feelings. Maree


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