“you made me do it”

“. . . is it safe to say that we can “make” a person feel a certain way? Are we not in control of our own emotions . . ? If I gave you constructive criticism and you cried as a result, that wasn’t me “making” you cry, that was YOUR reaction. 2 people, 1 cries as a result, the other takes that information and uses it to their benefit. Which person did I ‘make’ do something ?”

this comment on one of my previous blog entries was intriguing, so i wanted to spend a little more time on it, here in today’s blog posting.

this is really a very involved topic, and i’ll probably spend a number of posts on this.

but here is one little aspect: i was thinking about how “making” someone do anything works in other languages. in german, for example, there is no expression for it. in german you can “force” or “manipulate” someone but not “make” someone do something.

i find that interesting because it makes the causal chain a little longer. when i think of person A “making” person B do or feel something, i immediately imagine a direct causal link, kind of like by stepping on the grass, i make an indentation in the lawn.

when person A forces or manipulates person B to do something, there seems to be a little more involved. maybe resistance on the part of person B, or reluctance, or at least some semi conscious feeling of un-ease.

it also seems that in this case person A, the “maker”/enforcer/manipulator has to work a little harder. there is less of a direct magical connection between person A and person B, where person A can just reach into person B’s emotions and create a certain feeling.

i think this is an important ingredient of the intuitive notion of “making” someone do/feel something – this idea that one person has direct and free access to someone else’s feelings, and can then cause these feelings to go any way they please.

the commentator’s example, where one action can have more than one emotional reaction disproves this idea. think back to when you went to school. a teacher would be able to inspire a wide range of emotions in all the people present in the classroom – from boredom to excitement to fear to amusement.

so – we could conclude that no-one can “make” anyone feel anything, right?

yes, right. but . . . there’s more to that than meets the eye. literally. stay tuned for more on this in the next blog entry.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

6 thoughts on ““you made me do it”

  1. Jeff

    Ahhhh yes, very good ! This has been a topic buried deep inside me for many years now. It would seem a matter of convinence that we don’t take responsibility for our own actions or our own emotions. For example: When we are happy, we may smile, when someone tells a funny joke we may laugh. In those cases, most times we don’t point the finger at those who made us laugh. We may, however say: “The joke was funny!!” and leave it at that. But it’s not often we say: “That was funny, YOU made me laugh”. And even when we include the pronoun YOU, it’s very rare. However, 9 out of 10 times when someone cries or gets upset as a direct result from something you did or said, the “YOU” is always included. “You make me sad” “You hurt my feelings” etc…. why is that ? Why is YOU always asociated with the negative emotion ? If I can “Make” you cry, how come I don’t nesecarily “Make” you laugh ?
    Perhaps it’s just “known” that when we are at a party and the “life of the party” is telling jokes and people are all laughing, that it is the comedian doing this to us so we don’t feel the need to associate the name to the action (Bob made me laugh). The next day at work when we talk to our peers about the party, it’s usually said like this: “That guy at the party was funny !”
    But say I got into an argument with a loved one, that message is always conveyed as: “Bob hurt my feelings”. Is it really common for the same message to be said like this: “Bob said some things to me and I felt my feelings were being hurt”? Not always, it’s more common to say the other persons name that caused us hurt, ratehr then owning up to the way we reacted. The point I’m trying to make here is, when an outsider stimulates our emotions in a negative manner, it seems far to common for us to not take our reactions as our own, rather, they belong to the one causing us to re-act.

  2. Pingback: “you made me do it” - part 4: understanding it all » change therapy - isabella mori

  3. Derrick Olson

    I have a chinese female friend that is being manipulated by a guy to marry him, when he doesn’t get the answer he wants he cries, he has told her that he will kill himself if she doesn’t marry her, she is very upset, she wants to break up with him, but is afraid, of him doing harm to himself. do you have any info that help her in this situation.

  4. Pingback: self image, faces, hands and feet » change therapy - isabella mori

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *