Really, Am I Responsible For My Emotions?

February, 2012

Are we responsible for all of our emotions?

In April of 2009, I presented a post entitled, “You Make Me Emote! In the posting, I declared that each person is responsible for her/his emotions. I have been thinking a lot about that declaration lately. It’s possibly much more complex than I originally thought. In other words, maybe the simplicity of declaring each person is responsible for her/his emotions needs to take into account the many reasons for emoting, along with the imperfection of humanity. Hmmm… Let’s explore this further.

Who’s responsible for your emotion of love – Cupid or you?

Having recently experienced the complex emotion called grief, I’m immediately confronted with the powerful statement made by H. L. Mencken: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” So, as I consider emotions that I find negative and then say, “I am responsible for them,” should I simply declare they all are my responsibility? Am I taking responsibility for something that I shouldn’t?

Perhaps, we should investigate the cause of our emotions before determining responsibility. So, what causes our emotions? What causes me to feel angry? Suppose someone hits me with his fist. The first thing I feel is the physical pain of being hit. The next feeling might be anger. If so, what caused the feeling of anger? Is it because I’m feeling physical pain? No, because the feeling of physical pain doesn’t necessarily produce the emotional feeling of anger. Take, for example, the pain resulting from accidentally bumping your head while getting into a car. Usually, there would be no direct emotional feeling of anger from the physical pain felt after the accident. The point is, that a certain emotional feeling doesn’t necessarily come from a particular physical feeling.

So, what causes these things you (and, I) call emotions? In the past, I’ve answered that question with a simple three-letter, one-word answer: “YOU!” Yes, you are the cause of your emotions. I know in my previously mentioned posting, I never specifically stated that each person causes her/his emotions. Instead, I talked about owning our emotions and not blaming anyone else for them. We not only own our emotions, but we’re also the cause of them.

Assuming each person causes her/his emotions, is s/he responsible for them. In other words, does cause imply responsibility when dealing with emotions? If I cause my anger, am I responsible for it? If I cause my happiness, am I responsible for it? I suppose the answer is yes to both questions, but somehow, it doesn’t seem to fit reality. Many people, including myself, will make sincere statements like: “Kathy makes me happy!” or “Ron made me mad!” In these types of cases, we are saying (and most likely mean) that Kathy and Ron caused and are responsible for the emotions.

Some say I cause negative emotions, especially when I’m full:-)

If we cause AND are responsible for our emotions, then I think it’s our thinking that’s at the root of our emoting. What I mean is we shouldn’t blame an external source for our emoting. If I am responsible for my own thinking, then I am the cause for my emoting.

Of course, circumstances can make it difficult to not emote in a particular way. For example, when I experienced a death of a close loved-one, my grieving was difficult and for me to say that it was caused by me is hard to accept. On the other hand, if I don’t take responsibility for my grieving and not accept that I caused it, then how will I ever be able to overcome it? Either I control it or it controls me! 

So, am I responsible for my emotions?  YES! But, what controls my emotions? MY THINKING!

Remember, we are not emoting due to what happens; we are emoting due to what we think about what happens.

What do you think?

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Who’s Responsible For Your Emoting?

November, 2010

Is this tree emoting?

Note to my readers: This post is about emoting and I have “emotionally splattered” paragraphs of words, in order to get you, the reader, to “feel the ’emoting’ and consider who owns it.” I hope at the end, your emotion is one of being glad. At least, glad that you’re not mad! :-)

Does this man appear to be emoting?

Have you ever heard someone say, “you make me emote?” Probably not, but I’ll bet you have heard something like, “you make me angry,” or “he is boring.” Now, I realize that emote usually refers to acting, or at least, that is how I am used to using it. On the other hand, emote, the root word of emotion, seems like an appropriate way to collectively express all of the words that are used for our “mental (emotional) feelings.” I’m referring to words like anger, love, boredom, fear, joy, etc., where the feeling we have is mental instead of physical.

I heard someone recently say: “That man was boring.” He further explained that the person was boring because he explained something, like a college professor. Well, what does that mean? If I am listening to an explanation given by a college professor and am bored, then who is responsible for me being bored? Am I responsible for my emotion or is the college professor? Really, how can someone make another bored?

Do you think the news makes this guy angry?

On a related topic, I remember when I was a teenager and my dad would say things that would “make me angry. I would tell him how I felt and he would simply say, “get over it.” At the time, it seemed like an impossible task. I thought he was just putting me off and not addressing the real problem of, “him making me angry.” Of course, I now realize that he didn’t make me angry, but instead, I made me angry. I own the problem of my anger and I should not put the blame on anyone but me.

There are times when I’m able to build a barrier that shields me from negative feelings. In fact, I was eventually able to do that with my dad. When he would do something that would normally make me angry, I was able to build a barrier in my mind that kept those negative vibes he was giving, from “causing” me to be angry. Now, of course, I was just controlling my own emotions. I didn’t literally build a barrier; I just took charge of my own thinking!

Who is responsible for my boredom?

It is common for children to blame others for how they feel. It is also common, for adults to say something, such as, “you make me happy.” Now, I realize when someone says, “you make me happy,” s/he might think the happiness is the direct result of her/his positive relationship with the other person. The emotion of joy is mentally felt because of the thinking of the person who is feeling it. Of course, we are not going to express ourselves in that manner, but we should be careful about what we say. I think when a person constantly says something such as, “you make me mad,” that a form of rote learning occurs. In other words, your words become your thinking.

You make me emote – NO!

I make you emote – NO!

You make you emote – YES!

I make me emote – YES!

Bee Gees - Emotion!

Emotion! Why is it so full of feeling? Is emotion all about feeling? Does emotion have anything to do with motion? Perhaps, emotion is a bunch of feelings in motion! Can you control your emotions? Have I made you emote?

 

Perhaps you feel that songs make you emote? Many of my friends say that music often is emotional for them. The Bee Gees wrote a song for Samantha Sang, in the 1970s, entitled: “Emotion.”



It was and is a song that is filled with emotion. (At least the name is. :-) I wonder if that was the Bee Gees’ purpose for writing the song – to cause the listener to be filled with emotion. If you emote as a result of listening to their song, did the song make you emote?

 

Click here, if you would like to read the lyrics and/or hear the Bee Gees (& Samantha Sang) sing  “Emotion”.

So, who’s responsible for your emoting?

Do you have an emotional comment? :-)


Who Or What Controls Your Emotions?

November, 2009
February 15, 1942Actor John Barrymore w. his daughter Diana demonstrating "happiness" emotion for story on his coaching her acting for her first movie role in "Eagle Squadron," on John's 60th birthday.

Actor John Barrymore with his daughter Diana demonstrating “happiness” emotion on Feb. 15, 1942

Last Spring, I did a posting entitled, “You Make Me Emote! In the posting, I declared that each person is responsible for her/his emotions. In other words, for example, it is incorrect for a person to say someone else made her/him angry. In this posting, I would like to explore the cause of our emotions.

So, what causes our emotions? What causes me to feel angry? Suppose someone hits me with his fist. The first thing I feel is the physical pain of being hit. The next feeling that I might feel is one of being angry. What caused the feeling of anger? Is it because I’m feeling physical pain? No, because the feeling of physical pain doesn’t always produce the emotional feeling of anger. Take, for example, the pain resulting from accidentally bumping your head while getting into a car. Usually, there would be no emotional feeling of anger. The point is, that a certain emotional feeling doesn’t necessarily come from a particular physical feeling. So what causes these things we call emotions?

Boxing in face

Should a boxer get angry because of getting hit in the head?

I have a simple three letter answer. YOU! Yes, you are the cause of your own emotions. I know in my previously mentioned posting, that I never specifically stated that each person causes her/his emotions. Instead, I talked about owning our emotions and not blaming anyone else for them. We not only own our emotions, but we also cause them.

So, if I cause my emotions, then how can I control them? I think we cause our emotions through our thoughts. Let’s consider the previous example of being hit by someone’s fist. I mentioned feeling the physical pain that was followed with the feeling of anger. The feeling of anger may have been immediately replaced with a feeling of warmth, if, for example, I was hit by a two year-old child. In other words, after thinking about who and why I was hit, the emotional feeling changed from anger to warmth. It would be natural to assume that the two year-old child meant no harm.

August 1964`Beatle' fan overcome by emotion as long-haired quartet arrive.

August 1964,`Beatle’ fan overcome by emotion as long-haired quartet arrive.

Let’s follow this line of thinking a little further. We not only own our emotions, but we cause them. We cause them through our thinking. If it’s our thinking that causes emotions, then it seems natural to use our thinking to control our emotions. Let’s return again to the example of getting hit by someone’s fist. What kind of thinking causes me to emotionally respond with anger? Perhaps, I think the person who hit me, did so as an expression of anger. My response may have resulted from some  “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” thinking. In other words, that person is angry so I will be angry at her/him. Another way of thinking, in this situation, is to use the Christian philosophy of, “turn the other cheek.”  This could cause the person who did the hitting to feel embarrassed, due to not getting the response s/he expected. Though my examples may not be that good, I hope you can see how the cause of our emotions could be, and most likely is, our own thinking.

Now, let’s address the question in the title. Who or what controls your emotions?

First, who controls them? YOU!

Secondly, what controls your emotions? YOUR THINKING!

Happy Guy

Did he choose to be happy?

Sometimes, I find my emotions are controlling me. In a way, that makes perfect sense. You see, my thinking causes my emotions and I control my thinking. It is possible for me to think of harming someone and then become angry. The anger then leads to me looking and acting angry. But, if I change my thinking and instead of thinking in a harmful way, I think of not harming, then my mind will most likely not become angry. The anger comes from how and what is being thought by the person who is angry. Don’t let anger control you, but let you control the anger.

We are not emoting due to what happens; we are emoting due to what we think about what happens.

You have control over your comment(s). I’m looking forward to reading yours.

grab-small-r21


You Make Me Emote!

April, 2009

emote1

Have you ever heard someone say, “you make me emote?” Probably not, but I’ll bet you have heard something like, “you make me angry,” or “he is boring.” Now, I realize that emote usually refers to acting, or at least, that is how I am used to using it. On the other hand, “emote,” the root word of emotion, seems like an appropriate way to collectively express all of the words that are used for our “mental (emotional) feelings.” I’m referring to words like anger, love, boredom, fear, joy, etc., where the feeling we have is mental instead of physical.

I heard someone say recently that a person was boring. The person was boring because he explained something “like a college professor.” Well, what does that mean? If I am listening to an explanation given by a college professor and am bored, then who is responsible for me being bored? Am I responsible for my emotion or is the college professor? Really, how can someone make another bored? On a related topic, I remember when I was a teenager and my dad (I wrote about my dad in a previous posting) would say things that would “make me angry.” I would tell him how I felt and he would simply say, “get over it.” At the time, it seemed like an impossible task. I thought he was just “putting me off” and not addressing the real problem of, “him making me angry.” Of course, I now realize that he didn’t make me angry, but instead, I made me angry. I own the problem of my anger and I should not put the blame on anyone but me.

There are times when I am able to build a barrier that shields me from negative feelings. In fact, I was eventually able to do that with my dad. When he would do something that would normally “make me angry,” I was able to build a barrier in my mind that kept those negative “vibes” he was giving, from “causing” me to be angry. Now, of course, it was me, just controlling my own emotions. I didn’t literally build a barrier; I just took charge of my own thinking!

It is common for children to blame how they feel on others. It is also common, for adults to say something, such as, “you make me happy.” Now, I realize when someone says, “you make me happy,”  s/he might think the happiness is the direct result of her/his positive relationship with the other person. The emotion of joy is mentally felt because of the thinking of the person who is feeling it. Of course, we are not going to express ourselves in that manner, but we should be careful about what we say. I think when a person constantly says something such as, “you make me mad,” that a form of rote learning occurs. In other words, your words become your thinking.

You make me emoteNO!

I make you emoteNO!

You make you emoteYES!

I make me emoteYES!

Do you have an emotional comment? :-)

emote

grab-small-r21


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