Have you ever heard yourself say ‘You made me feel....’ ?
If the answer is yes, have you ever stopped to analyse whether this is true? Can someone else make you FEEL something? And, if we believe this to be true, what are the implications ?
First, lets start by considering what a feeling is.
A feeling is defined as a emotional state or reaction. It is an integral part of our interpretation of the world, sometimes use to determine if something is right or wrong, safe or unsafe, good or bad. Emotions vary in intensity and are often viewed in a context of 'positive' or 'negative'. We tend to be more aware of our negative emotions, and for good reason. They are often our brain/bodies way of indicating or identifying risk or danger, this is why we remember them more vividly than positive feelings, as a way to protect ourselves in the future.
So a feeling is a emotional response or a reaction to our interpretation of what is going on around us. As our interpretations change with different experiences, societal views, peer influence, our feelings also change. Therefore it is our interpretation which makes us feel something, not the person or situation. This would explain why peoples emotional responses can vary wildly to the same situation. A easy example would be riding a roller coaster, one person experiences excitement, whilst the other experience fear. It wasn't the roller coaster that make them feel this, it was there interpretation of roller coasters, based on thinks like past experience, prior knowledge/information or other thoughts/feelings.
So, if we consider our feelings are emotional reactions based on our interpretation not the situation its self, no one actually chooses how you feel except you!
With great power comes great responsibility. Here are some of my top tips about how you can take responsibility for your feelings.
1/ Change your language. We believe what we hear ourselves say so look to avoid language that gives others power over your emotions. Consider changing "you made me feel..." to "I am feeling...". This small change acknowledges the feeling, with out attributing blame or judgment. You can then choose how you act in response to this acknowledgement.
2/ Own your feelings - When you take full responsibility for the way you feel, you also take responsibility for your choice as to whether you stay with the feeling or change it. The feeling is never right or wrong, it just is. We are responsible to how we respone to them. This is a challenging but incredibly powerful place to be.
3/ Notice the good stuff - The more attention and focus we are able to put on positive emotional experiences, the more we increase our capacity to experience positive emotions. We can actually change the pathways in the brain and strengthen areas we want to feel more from. Cool hey!
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