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Your Emotions Are Talking to You

When you’re with other people – a friend, a stranger, or a family member – you experience emotions. Lots of them.

Some of those emotions are pleasant and some are not so pleasant. Some will be so powerful that you’ll shout at people, hate people you used to love, and exhibit all sorts of behaviors you later regret. Or you’ll keep it all inside and vow to never leave your house again or to at least stay away from people. Many emotionally sensitive people avoid others because of the emotions they experience when with them. It’s just too difficult.

One of the problems might be that you think your emotions are about other people and what they do or say. So clearly, if you stay away from them then you’ve solved the problem. Maybe not.

Though you believe it is the other person’s fault that you feel a certain way, actually, your emotions are about you.

Even if you pull out of relationships, you still will have experiences that will arouse your emotions. If someone cuts in front of you in traffic, you’re angry. You’re angry because of what the other person did, right? But consider that your emotion is more about you than what the other person did. You see, not everyone in the world be angry because someone did that.

There is no switch that other people pull to change the way you feel. We blame other people for the way we feel when actually we need to look inside ourselves to see the reasons we are emotional.

You’re angry because something triggers some issues for you. I don’t know what those issues are as they can be different for each person. Maybe it is about someone breaking rules, or being scared for your safety, or seeing someone’s behavior as selfish.

So people will behave in selfish ways and they will break rules and they will do things that scare you. That happens all the time. When you continue to have emotion for some time (you know what that’s like), be mindful of your internal experience.

Maybe it’s effective, such as letting you know how much someone you loved meant to you. Maybe it’s a signal that you have expectations about the world that are causing you misery. What is it about this situation that is upsetting to you?

Maybe there is something to talk about with the other person, some problem solving to do. But first, figure out what your emotion is about for you and your life. What is it that you have to learn from the situation? What is it that makes this situation emotional for you?

For example, if you go to a gathering and no one greets you, what emotion do you feel? What’s important about that for you? Do you hold on to that emotion for hours or days? Do you leave the gathering because of your emotions? What could the meaning be? Perhaps it’s because you believe people should go by certain rules or behave in certain ways. Maybe it’s because you feel ignored and unwelcome when people don’t greet you. When you know what the emotion is about, you can work on your own reactions and learn from the experience.

Thinking about the reasons you are feeling what you are feeling without blaming others means you can learn about yourself and your emotional reactions. Are you acting on your emotions without listening to what your emotions are telling you?

Your Emotions Are Talking to You

Karyn Hall, PhD

Karyn Hall, Ph.D. is the owner/director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician, a RO DBT Approved Supervisor and Trainer and owner of, an online educational program. She is a trainer/consultant as well as a therapist and certified coach, author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person, SAVVY, Mindfulness Exercises for DBT Therapists, and co-author of The Power of Validation. Her podcast, The Emotionally Sensitive Person, is available on iTunes.

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APA Reference
Hall, K. (2017). Your Emotions Are Talking to You. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Apr 2017
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