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Emotions Aren’t Facts — In Depth

Emotions Aren't FactsEmotions are potent and vital. Together with the ability to think clearly and rationally, the ability to experience and express emotions is part of what makes you human. Identifying your emotions and allowing yourself to feel them can be quite therapeutic. 

Generally, your emotions are triggers that convey important information about events or situations in your life. Fear is reasonable if a man brandishing a gun approaches you. It alerts you that you are in danger and must take appropriate action. What people forget from time to time, however, is that their emotions do not always tell them the truth. 

Yes, our minds often deceive us. At its most fundamental level, the function of emotions is to keep us safe from danger — either by flight or fight. However, not all of the information our brain gives us is valuable or even true. It is a difficult concept to grasp, yet it is true. Not all of the emotions we feel are accurate or even helpful. The more you can acknowledge this, the better you will be at recognizing when you are not being true to yourself.

You may believe that because you feel something, it must be true. However, your emotions might occasionally be out of touch with reality. Consider this — have you ever taken a test and thought you blew it, just to find out afterward that you actually did pretty good?

When your emotions are especially intense, they might lead you to believe things not founded on facts. When you get swept up in a surge of emotions, your thinking becomes warped, and you struggle to stay anchored in the reality of the situation. This is why it is critical to organize your emotions.

How to organize your feelings?

Our emotions rarely hang neatly on beautiful, carefully spaced hangers. Instead, we tend to keep a mishmash of new and old emotions in our closets. But you can ‘Marie Kondo’ your emotions and deal with or eliminate those not serving you right. Comb through your emotions daily, and you will more effectively deal with situations where you end up being anxious, depressed, lonely, or sad. 

Here’s how to separate emotions from facts and start winning in life: 

Step one: Identify how you are feeling.

The first step in organizing your emotions is to make a list of your worries or fears. That may sound like a bad idea, but writing your feelings down can often provide greater clarity. It can be effective to understand the underlying thought or belief, assess its value and truth, and then change it if it does not serve you well.

How can you discover the underlying feeling that is troubling you?

List your problems and assign them an emotion. If you are not sure what those emotions are, try a “so what does that mean?” exercise. Ask yourself “so what does that mean” until it reveals something about you, uncover what you believe, and ask, “is it true?”

Here’s an example: 

Problem: Everyone expects me to change my schedule to accommodate theirs.

Emotions: Frustration, resentment, and hurt

What is going on?: ...so does that mean that I will be on my own and they will inevitably forget about me? I am scared I will be forgotten or that nobody will care about me.

The message we uncover through the process can feel harsh and unfair. But here is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or organizing your emotions, comes into effect.

Look for outliers. Ask yourself, “Is it true?” or “Can I find evidence to refute that belief?” In the example given, the individual may recall occasions when people went out of their way to hang out with them or expressed how much fun they had with them. They will soon realize that the conclusion they reached is not a fact. 

Step two: Identify whether or not this is a recurring theme.

Sometimes you have to evaluate if an emotion is real or whether it is just your brain working a game controller. It is worth remembering that our emotions dictate our actions. Therefore, you stay on top of your emotions since they can easily become exaggerated. Exaggerated or irrational emotions eventually create hurdles to achieving your objectives and connecting with people. 

Are you feeling stuck in negative emotions? You might be dealing with a cognitive distortion — your brain lying to you based on past thought patterns. 

If you are anxious about a date you are on, for example, you could overindulge. But your anxieties may be a byproduct of a date gone wrong in the past. This might trigger a cascade of anxiety-filled dates, leading you to believe that you need to be a little drunk to be a good date or that you are not interesting when sober.

You can change your patterns when you are aware of the reasons for your behaviors and have a good handle on your emotions. You can keep anxiety, fear, or anger from dominating and leading you to behave in ways you do not want.

Related Blog: Are you ready for change?

Step three: Watch out for cognitive distortions.

These cognitive distortions (or thinking errors) can have a detrimental impact on how you approach situations: 

  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Overgeneralization
  • Mental filter
  • Discounting the facts
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Magnification and minimization 
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Should statements 
  • Labeling
  • Blame

The first step is to recognize cognitive distortions or a behavior pattern proving to be problematic in your life. Once you have recognized the thought or behavior, you can start to change it. It may be more difficult than throwing out an old hoodie, but being able to challenge these thoughts may be the most positive change in your life so far.

Consider therapy.

Your emotions have a big role in how you process events and situations in your daily life. However, it is also critical to evaluate everything using a filter that can distinguish between facts and reality. Separating your emotions from facts can help you eliminate undue stressors while also improving your relationships with others.

It is worth mentioning that many seemingly straightforward issues can turn out to be extraordinarily challenging and perplexing. So, if things are still not working out for you, you should seek mental health counseling. Our expert counselors at RDU Counseling for Change can help you find ways to be more mindful of why you are feeling certain emotions and alert you to any potential hurdles you may encounter in the way.

Call us today at (919) 713-0260 or email at to speak with our expert RDU Counseling for Change counselors or book your individual, couples, or family therapy. We now provide telehealth or online therapy sessions to make mental health counseling more accessible to those who are pressed for time, stay home, or live in remote areas.

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