Commentary: TPH #336: How Your Emotions Are Made

Commentary on:
TPH podcast #336: How Your Emotions Are Made | Lisa Feldman Barrett
Transcript on HappyScribe

I almost immediately disliked her because of the laugh at the beginning. I don’t know why but it struck me wrong. Then she started talking science and I liked her just fine.

And your brain is constructing anger in a particular situation for you to achieve a particular goal. And the expression of anger will be tailored to that goal. Sometimes anger is unpleasant, sometimes it’s pleasant. Sometimes anger is very high, arousal, sometimes it’s not.

Emphasis mine. You are feeling anger but the anger isn’t a “real” thing, it’s something your brain is doing to you.

I loved the bit around 29 minutes when she’s talking about how we feel something in the body and then we add a story about why we’re feeling that. Dan says, but what if that really is why we’re feeling that, and she shoots back, “there is no maybe, because your brain is making it”. This! This is something we all need to learn. Your brain creates feelings and emotions to nudge you in some direction. When we make up stories about them we are literally making up a lie and then believing the lie that we just made up! How weird is that? How dumb is that?

She continues talk more about how your brain constructs reality. You can feel wetness on your skin but your skin doesn’t have any wetness sensors. Your brain takes information from other senses and from past experience and creates the feeling of wetness. And as she points out, emotions are the same. They don’t have any existence in reality, they’re just a tool that our brain uses to drive us and then we make up stories about them. And we believe the stories.

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