“Our” Emotions, “My” Emotions, or “The” Emotions?

Because emotions are felt in our bodies and seemingly come up on their own inside of us, we tend to claim them as “ours.” They are not. Emotions are energy, they are messengers. If you were given a screwdriver, you would know to use it to insert or remove a screw. You would not think of the screwdriver as “me,” even though it is being held by your hand. Emotions are tools that have been given to us to help us navigate our lives. We need to work with them, but not claim them as belonging to us.

Because emotions are felt in our bodies, and seemingly come up on their own inside of us, we tend to claim them as “ours.” They are not. Emotions are energy, they are messengers. If you were given a screwdriver, you would know to use it to insert or remove a screw. You would not think of the screwdriver as “me,” even though it is being held by your hand. Emotions are tools that have been given to us to help us navigate our lives. We need to work with them, but not claim them as belonging to us.

One of the challenges of doing research on the human brain is that we need to use the human brain in order to observe and investigate the human brain, and then come to conclusions about the human brain! This closed system is very difficult with which to work because we have little to no real objectivity.

Working with emotions holds a similar challenge for us. How do we work with emotions when we hold them close to us, by viewing them as part of us and referring to them as mine or ours? To work with something effectively, we need to be able to step away from it—at least slightly—in order to get some perspective.

Since the emotions you experience are tools, have been given to you to help you, are bits of energy, and are also related to the thoughts and beliefs you hold, it is important to allow them to stand apart from you. The best way to do this is to stop thinking about, and referring to, the emotions that come up in you as “my emotions” or “our emotions.”

But I ought to call them “my emotions,” because all human beings experience the same emotions and these are the ones that are “mine!” Right? This is the way we relate to emotions most of the time.

This is a very interesting puzzle. Indeed, we all know anger, hurt, sadness, joy and loneliness. We know what they are. But the basis for our feeling a particular emotion is different for each one of us—even people born into the same family! Take anger, for example. A first-born child feels anger. Yet the anger that arises is very often stimulated by people intruding on his/her self or things. A second-born child does not get as angry by people intruding on his/her things (or activities), but does feel anger when ignored by others. A third-born child does not get so angry about people intruding on his/her things or activities, nor about being ignored, but does feel anger when people tell him or her what to do!

The emotion is anger, but the cause or stimulating event is different! (We will talk more about this in a future post.) This simple example shows that we all know anger, yet anger comes up in each of us for differing reasons. Therefore, all anger is not the same.

What happens, then, when we call it “my anger?”

You know that you have both a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is credited with being the primary manager of your life, and mine. The subconscious mind has a very curious property, which is important to our discussion. As advertisers can attest, the subconscious mind cannot tell reality from fiction. In fact, the subconscious mind accepts as truth anything that has been repeated and repeated. The more our subconscious mind hears a particular message, the more real it becomes. Soon, the subconscious mind will totally believe that what has been repeated is TRUTH.

It is the basis on which we work with Affirmations. We create a positive affirmation that we like then repeat it over and over, out loud, through writing, through singing or by recording and listening to our own voice repeat the affirmations. Constantly repeated within three weeks, it becomes true to us, and we have reprogrammed our subconscious mind!

Our lives are based on what we believe—those truths we hold in our subconscious mind. If you are a second-born child, and choose to call the anger you feel when you are feeling ignored my anger, then you are telling your subconscious mind that you are, truly, ignored and it is worthy of getting angry about. When, over your lifetime, you repeat this message to yourself, your subconscious mind will take it as true. When that happens, this becomes a belief. This belief then runs your life and your experiences of being ignored actually increase, thereby confirming your belief that you are constantly ignored!

For 45 years, I worked as a psychotherapist. A majority of the women with whom I worked had complaints about their male partners’ inability to cook.

“He can’t boil water,” they would say. True, their partner could not cook, and had no interest in changing this circumstance. Then one day, a young woman I knew started to work with me, interested to clear the way for a new and lasting relationship. She had never learned to cook. One of her “requirements” was that her new man had to cook (because she could not). During her search, she dated close to 45 men. Every one of those men was a fantastic cook or chef!

This is the power of belief. This woman believed she had to have a man who could cook. So every man she met and dated did cook. The other women, who believed men do not like to cook, connected with men who were unable to cook.

When we tell ourselves that anger, hurt, fear, rage, feelings of rejection, and loneliness belong to us, by calling them “my anger” (fear, rage, feelings of rejection and loneliness), we are creating beliefs that are destined to cause us much misery.

As you begin your new relationships with your emotions—all of them—do you and your emotions a favor by standing back from them just a bit. Start referring to them as

  • The anger I am feeling
  • The fear that arose in me
  • The loneliness I noticed
  • The hurt I registered
  • The rejection I felt

Work with this for three weeks, and give me your feedback on what happens with you and your emotions!

Remember to get your free 30-minute personalized phone call with me today, to determine the areas of emotion most important for you to address.

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