Other people’s feelings

Prompting event for my emotion:

Once again, Amy was tired and having a hard time getting to sleep. This time it was also late for an evening nap, i.e. close to her bedtime, which may therefore be later tonight. I was able to be mostly patient while I tried to help her soothe herself with the pacifier, but I was also irritated and impatient.

Emotion names:

Deep sorrow

Interpretations (beliefs, assumptions):

The fear is mostly about Mark; I have such a hard time tolerating when he has negative feelings, and so I fear anything that might lead to that. I feel responsible for his feelings — to protect him, myself, and Amy from them.

I am too reactive to other people’s emotions. I’ve been noticing lately how much my mood depends on the atmosphere around me, and therefore how other people are feeling.

I hate that.

The sorrow, mourning, and grief are for myself and for everyone who has had anything to do with me.

For everyone, because I am so difficult, such a burden, so high-maintenance; because, like Amy might be, I am sensitive and intense and willful.

For myself, because if and when I feel unloved, abandoned, and betrayed, it’s because I drive people away — I am not sufficiently or consistently pleasant to be with.

Physical sensations:


Body language:

Crying, hunched up


To cry.

To withdraw from relationships for a few days or longer.

To escape. (Don’t worry, no concrete plans for running away or worse.)


I finished doing the dishes, told Mark I was experiencing a major wave of depression, and came in here to cry and write this.

After effect:

I don’t feel a whole lot better, but I guess I’m a little more composed / integrated / accepting.

Challenge to the interpretations:

I am not responsible for Mark’s feelings. I do have to live with them, which is distressing, but I can work on developing better distress tolerance.

As for my reactivity, I’m not sure what to say. I guess it’s part of my sensitivity and intensity that I’m so vulnerable to what others are feeling. Perhaps there’s things I can do to handle it better, to allow it less influence on my own mood. More distress tolerance.

It isn’t really possible to defend against bad things in advance. I may be able to work on being less willful about trying to do that, and more accepting and open to whatever is at the moment, whether good or bad.

Joe has talked to me before about love and duty and tolerance. In my black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking, I am tempted to believe that if someone does something for me out of a sense of duty, obligation, tolerance, politeness, service, and so on — because they have to — it’s not really love. Joe says love and tolerance can — must, in this life, among fellow humans — coexist. It’s okay that there are times when I am annoying, burdensome, difficult, unpleasant, and so on — the people who really love me will handle it as gracefully as they can, with their love mixed with, but not negated by, negative feelings towards me.

I have applied the same standard to others, including Amy — when I feel annoyed or burdened or impatient with someone, I am tempted to believe that I don’t really love them. But my feelings of annoyance, etc., are okay, and they don’t negate my love.

Another note on reactivity — being reactive to Amy and Mark doesn’t make me a bad mother or wife, nor a hypocrite.


2 thoughts on “Other people’s feelings

  1. Another note on reactivity — being reactive to Amy and Mark doesn’t make me a bad mother or wife, nor a hypocrite.
    No, it makes you human…just like the rest of us.

    I know what you mean about wanting to withdraw from everyone for a few days. I kind of did that myself, still a bit on the out but getting better.

    I love pics of Amy, she is so cute. The lungs though, loud, demanding you to hear her and all that… at least you know she is not going to be a pacifist, she will not lay die and take just any ol thing. Amy is strong one already and cute as a button.

    Thanks for the plug on my art sale. I appreciate it.

  2. I remember thinking, before she was born, that even though it would be difficult I would rather have a strong-willed, sensitive, intense child than one too easily squelched… sure is difficult! but I hope I can keep working at valuing those things in her and in myself.

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