Learning feelings

How do thoughts and emotions interact in everyday life and in therapeutic processes like cognitive behavioural therapy? Do we really have any control over our emotions or are they things that just happen to us?

“A thought comes when it will, not when I will.” – Nietzsche.

Nietzsche’s quote raises an important question about both thoughts and, implicitly, about emotions. Many people would say their emotions only come when they will and not when they want.

Robert Solomon has long been a proponent of the idea that emotions are not just things that happen to us. As existentialist philosophers like Sartre point out, we have a responsibility to take ownership of our emotions. They do not own us, we own them. To say otherwise is to cede control of a fundamental part of ourselves to…well to who?

Emotions are, in fact, strategies.