You may have physiological reactions when feeling
something: you blush when embarrassed, have high blood
pressure when anxious, sexual arousal when attracted. Actually
psychologists do not yet know whether arousal precedes,
accompanies, or follows an emotional reaction (Weiner, 1980).
You may try to suppress the feelings and deny being upset
or angry. Quite often people who deny their emotions think
they are healthy and well adjusted, but they tend to have high
blood pressure, high heart rate, an immune deficiency, high
incidence of cancer (Temoshok, 1992), difficulty sleeping, and
lots of aches and pains.
You may try to change the situation: shout out orders like a
drill sergeant when things go wrong or become charming to
attract and influence someone. Note: yelling "shut up" at
someone implies but doesn't directly express your feeling, "I'm
angry at you."
You may have one feeling to deny or conceal another:
criticism may hide attraction, crying may occur when you are
mad, love may hide scared dependency. Or, you may have one
feeling in response to another feeling: disgust to your own
homosexual interests, frustration to your shyness.
You may blame others rather than assuming responsibility for
your own feelings: "You are a selfish, mean person" instead of
"I feel very hurt," "You are a lazy slob" instead of "I feel furious
when you are so sloppy," "You are arrogant" instead of "I'm
afraid you won't like me." Remember: you are more
responsible than anyone else for your feelings. In general, no
one can make you feel any way; it is usually your choice
(although some emotions are impossible to control--like a
startle reaction or grief following the loss of a loved one). See
the discussion of "I" statements in chapter 13 and
"psychologizing" in chapter 7.
You may not be aware of the true nature of your emotions but
they can still have an effect on your life. Dramatic examples are
people with multiple personalities; an unconscious personality
may have feelings which are not known to the person until that
personality becomes conscious and "in control" later. Another
rare example is a woman who has spontaneous orgasms. One
possible explanation is that sexually arousing fantasies were
occurring unconsciously. More common examples that have
been well documented recently are the "sleeper effects" in
children of divorce. Example: children may be unaware of
emotions (fears, anger) during their parents' divorce but suffer
ill effects from the divorce years later, often when they become
intimate with someone. There are lots of things, especially
feelings, going on inside of us that we don't know about.
Haven't you felt upset after talking to someone without
knowing why? Don't you sometimes respond to events and
behaviors very differently than others do, and can't see why
you have such a different reaction?
You may openly share your feelings with others. This involves
many skills: self-disclosure, "I" statements, social skills,
assertiveness, self-confidence etc. Telling your story, as in