#112-You Are Responsible for Your Own Emotions

This season’s theme song is “Training Day,” by Infraction. Used with Permission.

This is episode number 112: Your emotions.

Welcome to the Mindset for Life Podcast. This is Bethanie, your coach, from Dr. B coach.com, and I’m so excited to talk to you today. You know, one of the things that I take for granted in my life is what I know about emotions, how to manage them, where they come from, and how to shift a negative emotion into a positive emotion. I’ve been there. I have some expertise in this area. And I’d love to teach you a little bit about what I know.

First of all, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you ever find that somebody else’s heavy, big emotions overwhelm you?
  • Do you ever feel like someone else’s emotions are your fault or your responsibility?
  • Do you ever feel like it’s someone else’s fault that you feel something?

All of these things are pretty common thoughts to have, and they’re not true. Interestingly, we are responsible for the way we feel, and what we think about things. So no one can be blamed about our emotions, and we cannot be responsible for other people’s emotions. That’s incredible, isn’t it? So today, I’m going to talk to you about six main emotions, primary emotions people feel, and how this all happens that we think we are to blame or we blame other people for the way we feel, and how to stop doing it so you can have freedom and really feel like you’re on top of things.

You may be thinking, “I don’t really know if I’m gonna listen to this topic.”

Or you might be thinking, This is exactly what I need right now.”

And I’m gonna guide you through the steps to figure it out. So let’s start first with six emotions, people feel the most: mad, sad, scared, peaceful, powerful, and joyful. In fact, these six emotions are often the entire vocabulary somebody might have about how to talk about their feelings.

Not everyone has a huge emotional vocabulary. And if you were to ask me any given moment, I know I’m feeling things because emotions are part of just being human, right? But I may not be able to pinpoint exactly what a fine-tuned emotional name it is. There are so many more names than just those six I listed. But chances are, you primarily feel one or two of those emotions the most. Some people feel mad a lot, like they’re angry all the time. And something will come along and provoke that anger. And then anger will be racing for this person, and maybe you are there. In my experience, anger is usually related to blame accusation. And I’m feeling like someone else needs to do something, but I can’t control it. So the only thing I can do is get mad.

Anger is a huge and heavy emotion–very powerful. And like any emotion, there’s a physical response to the way you feel. So mad often has like a racing heartbeat, it might have some heat physically associated with that. There might be a way we stand a way we hold our faces. All kinds of physical things happen when we feel mad or angry. Likewise, sad. So in my experience, sad is a pretty plain face. It might even include a drooping face or a little bit of a frown. And I might have this overwhelming physical sensation of just sluggishness. It’s like, I’m slower, just not moving as fast. Now, some people can actually isolate exactly where in the body they feel sadness, can you do that?

That is a unique thing to be able to think about. And the more you can isolate how it feels, where in your body, you are noticing the sensation, what your face looks like, what your posture is like, what your temperature is like, and how you talk when you’re feeling this emotion, the more you can really name it. Zero in and isolate it, it’s not overwhelming anymore.

And then scared. So fear, I guess we could call it when we are afraid just like being mad. Sometimes the heart races, we might have kind of an agitated physical sensation where we’re on edge and the body is kind of like ready for a quick response. When I have fear, a lot of times my awareness is intensified and I’m zeroing in on whatever it is I’m afraid about. So think about anger, sadness and fear or scared feelings, and how these are manifest for you in your body. What they feel like, what you look like when you’re feeling them and all of those things. And then on the flip side, let’s talk about feeling peaceful, powerful and joyful.

Peaceful is somewhat, someone described this to me recently, is like, it’s an absence of all those bad things. If you think peaceful is basically an absence of your negative feelings, that could be because we have a hard time describing it. It’s this sense of being complete. Like there’s nothing hanging out there waiting to be wrapped up. It’s a closeness. It’s almost like a confidence that feeds and nurtures and a peaceful feeling physically might feel warm to some people, it might feel like a relaxed facial expression. And the question I would have is, where do you feel that in your body? What is your face look like? When you feel peaceful? What is the rest of your body feel like? What is your heart rate doing? What is your temperature doing? Think about that.

And I’m also going to talk about powerful. When I feel powerful, I would say that’s very similar to feeling confident. It feels like, everything is up, everything is positive, everything’s upbeat, I have awareness, and my shoulders might be broader or pulled back in a posture that is a little bit taller. And I might feel warm, but I might feel cool. Temperature wise, my facial expression might be pretty generic or empty, kind of like the peaceful feeling, or it might even be resolved and like a smile or something like that. So think about how powerful feels to you.

And lastly, joyful. Joyful is something that most people believe they never really feel or experience. Like we’re looking for joy. We’re looking for happiness, but we never really know if we’re feeling it. So let’s just think of a time where you felt joy. What did that feel like? What was the moment? What was the experience in your body in your face and the way your temperature was and your heart rate? And what were some of the thoughts that came with that joyful feeling, or maybe they led to the joyful feeling. Maybe there’s a fast heart rate, or maybe there’s a calm heart rate for you, when you’re feeling joyful.

Everyone has these emotions. Some of us experience one emotion more than others. And you might have a predominant emotion, or two or three that you feel all the time. I like to feel the joyful, powerful and peaceful feelings as much as I can. And I try to reduce how much I’m feeling mad, sad or scared. But some people mad, sad and scared, that’s where they live. Maybe that’s where you live. Or maybe you’re more on the happy, joyful, peaceful, powerful side. Either way, you want to identify what do you most often feel.

What are your primary emotions? How can we expand that vocabulary? So for example, if you’re feeling peaceful, there are some more refined emotions that are under the category of peaceful, that might actually more accurately depict what you’re feeling, content, thoughtful, intimate, loving, trusting, nurturing, relaxed, pensive, responsive, serene, secure, and thankful. And all of those are sort of under that peaceful umbrella, but they’re much more sophisticated and much more specific.

And what about powerful? Under powerful we have faithful, important, appreciated, respected, proud, aware, surprise, surprised, successful, worthwhile, valuable, discerning and competent. And under joyful, there are so many as well. We’ve got excited, sensuous, energetic, cheerful, creative, hopeful, daring, fascinating, stimulating, amused, playful and optimistic.

Now with all of those possibilities under what most people would call positive emotions, why is it that we get overwhelmed by some of these other heavier emotions that may not be as pleasurable to us? Well, there’s a few reasons.

First, we take on other people’s emotions. It’s pretty common to think we are to blame for the way other people feel. After all, it’s also very common to blame other people for our feelings. So if we’re in a relationship or a family situation or at work or something, and someone is angry, something coming out of their mouth might be the accusation of why they’re angry, “I’m so mad at you because you were late.” “I’m so mad at you because you didn’t come through,” and “I’m so mad at you, because you were selfish by not sharing that with everybody, and we all needed it.” And when those kinds of things are said to us, we often are taking the bait, we’re accepting the invitation to feel to blame for someone else’s emotions. But the good news is, we cannot be blamed for someone else’s emotions.

Our emotions are our responsibility, and other people’s emotions are their responsibility too. So human beings’ emotions are literally created by the way they think about something, the beliefs they have about something and the assumptions they make. So as people, if those around us in our world assume things, think things and believe things, and then blame us for those things, then we’re going to be accused of creating those emotions. And maybe we’re going to take that, and we’re going to carry that burden. And we’re going to assume, yes, it is our fault. And we’re going to do a lot of things to fix somebody else’s feelings.

Have you been in a situation where you tried to fix someone else’s feelings, and it just wasn’t possible? I have been in that situation so many times, I can’t even count it. Someone in my life would blame me for their disappointment or their frustration. And it really didn’t matter how much I tried to bring the joy or make up for the wrong or fix whatever mistake was made in the accusation. It wouldn’t change a thing.

Even though I could even fix the scenario that I was being accused of doing wrong. The person I’m talking about continued to harbor the resentment and frustration for a long time. In a situation like that, it’s kind of smothering, and you can feel like there’s no way to move forward. Can you see how taking on someone else’s emotions, like they’re your fault, has no sense of control, like there’s really nothing you can do to help someone feel better?

You can influence their feelings, and you can have an impact on their experience, but you can’t own their feelings. And as soon as you let that go, there’s this freedom, because that also means you can absolutely control your own feelings. And if you’re in charge of that, you can seek out more positive emotion if you want to feel that way.

So let’s just say you want to feel more joyful and happier in your life, then you can do those things that really bring excitement to your life. Maybe you’re going to learn new things, or have new experiences, or go new places. And, understand that it’s my belief that it’s the process of doing this stuff, not the end result, that’s going to bring you the feelings. So if you’re going to go new places, the entire journey brings the excitement, not just getting there. And if you’re going to learn new things, it’s the whole process of learning that brings the excitement, not just the end. So if you’re going to be miserable the entire time you’re doing something that you’re aiming for, it’s not going to give you the feeling that you want, doing the thing that’s going to bring the feeling. If you want to feel hopeful, then we have to be engaged in the kinds of activities that generate hope. And if we want to be fascinating or feel fascinated about things, we have to be seeking out the kinds of experiences and opportunities to engage in the habits, the behaviors that bring the feeling of fascinating, there are so many things we can do to generate emotion for ourselves.

I had this experience the other day, in a workshop where I needed to record a video. And I needed to be able to present myself in that video as a cheerful, upbeat, excited person. I was really struggling with this. And I thought, okay, the creator of the workshop told me that I could talk about something that excited me, and then record the video and maintain that feeling of excitement. And it absolutely worked. She called this a “warm open.” And I love the way she introduced the idea of just bringing something into your experience that you can relate to that has that emotional component, and just transferring the emotion to what you want to be feeling. Now. If you’re having an experience where you want to feel something and you feel like there’s just a barrier to that. The first step would be to try a warm open, something that’s going to generate that feeling for you, and get yourself into the mental and emotional state that you’re looking for.

Another thing to look at is what your thoughts might be that are generating that block. Or are there things that you’re holding onto maybe somebody to blame for a situation you’re experiencing? Or something going on that’s unresolved?

When you can notice and address what you’re thinking, sometimes you can free that and then get to the feelings you want to feel, and let go of what’s standing in the way. So the whole goal today was to talk about emotions to share this idea about emotions. And to give you a little bit about what I have learned, through my time as an adult, and an educator, and also a coach. And I believe this knowledge is not widely known. I think a lot of people in the world, maybe even you, we sometimes get buried by other people’s feelings. And we hold on to that for a long, long time. And we want to be free, we want to feel like we can regulate our own emotions, and not have to be totally overwhelmed by the way other people are feeling.

Well, this is the way to learn, first of all, that you can’t own other people’s feelings. And second of all, that you’re 100% responsible for your own feelings. And third, to develop an emotional vocabulary to expand your awareness that there are more emotions than just those core six feelings I mentioned sad, mad, scared, peaceful, powerful, joyful. And of course, I didn’t get into this on today’s podcast, but in those sad, mad and scared feelings, there are a whole, many, like, a huge list of additional feelings under those things. But you can check out on my website. I have a downloadable feelings wheel there that you can check out. And you can see the great depth of each emotion and how there’s a lot more specific feelings underneath just a big category.

Look for those; notice those in your life. And seek out experiences that bring the kinds of feelings you want to have. And you’re going to have more of them. Now, my last point today, before we end our episode, is what can we do when other people really are blaming us for their feelings. That’s a tough spot to be in, because I don’t know about you, but I want to have good relationships with that person if I can. And yet, I don’t want to own it, I want them to own their stuff, and me to own my stuff. So in an experience where someone else wants to blame me or put their feelings on me, rather than being resistant to that or just saying something that could be unfeeling or unkind, I want to just listen and be compassionate about what they may be experiencing, and see where I can understand them better.

In this way, I can open up that dialogue and really meet them where they are, and hear them and appreciate and value them. And after all, most of us feel so unheard. And we just need someone to hear and understand us, not necessarily to take away our emotion. But when we’re heard and understood, sometimes that helps us open the door to resolve whatever is holding us back. So I just try to do some compassionate listening, and ask some questions and just be there to hear and understand the other person.

That’s my tip for you today about emotions. And I thank you for being here. I hope you’ve benefited from what I’ve had to share. If you’re looking for even better management of your emotions and some tools to self regulate those. Join me, I’m starting a new workshop. And I would love to have you in the upcoming workshop. I’ve got the link in my podcast transcript. So check it out. We still have plenty of space and I’d love to have you in our group for working with some of these skills. So I hope to see you there! And until then, have a great week being the best version of you.

Join Me at the Workshop!