“you made me do it” – part 4: understanding it all

okay, so let’s see what we can make of all the information and opinions we’ve gathered in the last few days about the subject of “making” someone feel something.

in the first part, we concluded that it’s not possible to make anyone feel anything, as evidenced by the fact that when a teacher says something to a classroom, there will be a wide range of feeling reactions among the students.

in the second part we looked at the research that shows that at a subconscious level, people can influence each other quite strongly through nonverbal cues.

in the third part, we took a detour and looked at the lack of control over our feelings that comes from seeing ourselves as unworthy. we looked at the difference between “getting to” feel something and choosing to feel something.

so how does this all tie together?

the sentence we looked at was “you made me do it”. so, just to change things a bit, let’s turn this around and ask, can i make you feel anything? the answer, i think, is “it depends.”

what it depends on is awareness and intention.

if you are aware of your feelings and your intention is to choose your reality as much as possible then i think the answer is, no, i can’t make you feel anything – or only for a very short time.

if there is little awareness and a feeling that you cannot create your own reality, then you’ll probably have quite a few moments where you feel that people are making you feel things.

let’s have an example. if i gave you a hug, you could feel a range of things: friendship, disgust, love, indifference, happiness, etc., etc. your immediate reaction will probably be a mixture of

  • a bodily sensation (e.g. warm, defensive, nervous, soft)
  • your personal “hug history” (your personal experience with other huggers)
  • a consideration of how you think i want you to react to the hug (intensely, distantly, gently)
  • and a consideration of how the hug fits into the setting in which we find ourselves (our social, cultural and environmental context, e.g. whether we’re equals on some imagined social ladder, how our ethnic backgrounds mix, and where we are physically as we hug – in a church, on the street, etc.)

i suppose that what we talked about in the second part – the nonverbal influence we can have over each other – probably happens the most in this first, immediate reaction.

but we don’t have to leave it there. with awareness, we can notice what it is that we are feeling and thinking. in these first moments (split seconds often), our feelings and thoughts are still quite pliable. we can take them in whatever directions we want.

if we are aware. and if we have the intention to create our own reality.

if the hug makes you nervous, for example, you can say to yourself, “hm, this is interesting. i feel nervous. i notice that my shoulders are a little tight.” that is the awareness part.

you can then say to yourself, “maybe i’ll think about whether i want to hug people as much as they expect me to.” rather than perpetuating the feeling of nervousness, you can now let it go. and you won’t say, “she made me nervous”. that is the part where you create, you choose your own reality.

i’d love to hear from you what you think about all this …

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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