How many times have you heard yourself say: I’m upset, or I’m angry, or I’m happy? If you are typical, many times a day.  But stop for a moment and consider what you are actually saying.  You are saying “I am …. (some specific emotion).”  Whether you mean to or not, you are defining yourself as being your emotions.

Actually, when you are in the grip of a strong emotion, it really feels all encompassing, as if there is no part of “you” that isn’t that emotion.   In fact, sometimes a negative emotion so feels like who we are that we resist letting go of it even when we dislike having the feeling.  In other words, often we seem to want to hold on to feelings because it seems as if giving up the feeling is like giving up part of ourselves.

Take a moment and remember a time when you felt angry at someone and you knew on some level that the person really hadn’t done anything so terrible and that you ought to let go of the anger.  Take a moment and really make the incident real. … Do you remember that some part of you didn’t want to let go of the anger, as if you’d be losing some part of yourself if the emotion were to stop?

It also can be difficult to let go of an emotion when it feels as if the emotion is validating the meaning we’ve given an event.  It can feel to us as if letting go of the emotion will invalidate that meaning and letting go of the meaning will invalidate the feeling (which is who we feel we are).  An example of this would be someone who doesn’t do something for us that he promised to do.  We might give that event the meaning that I can’t count on people and I have to do everything myself, which likely would lead us to feel angry.  It feels to us as if it really is true that we can’t count on people.  So the anger justifies the meaning we gave the event (which has no inherent meaning).  At the same time the meaning justifies the feeling, so we might resist letting go of the meaning we made up.

But is that actually true?  Are we our emotions?

If we really are our emotions, then when an emotion disappeared, we should disappear … but we don’t.  Let me explain this outrageous statement: If we say we are anything specific, and that thing disappears, then logically we would have to disappear.  But we don’t disappear when our emotions disappear.

Not only do emotions fade away automatically after a period of time, it also is possible to stop emotions on the spot by getting rid of the two things that cause them: stimuli that have been conditioned and our occurrings, in other words, the meaning we give events moment-to-moment.

As I’ve explained in several posts, we unconsciously and automatically give meaning to meaningless events all day long.  Because events that have no inherent meaning can’t cause us to have feelings, the feelings we have must come from the meaning we give the events.  And by dissolving the meaning—in other words, how events occur for us—we can dissolve all the negative feelings that arise from the meaning.

So if the emotions we have usually dissipate on their own after a while and if our emotions are primarily the result of meaning we give events and we can dissolve most emotions merely by dissolving the meaning that gave rise to them, can you get that it is more accurate to say we “have” emotions, but are not our emotions?

The two best ways to get rid of negative emotions are to dissolve the conditionings and the occurrings that cause the feelings.  But if you don’t know how to do that, however, it still is possible to lessen the impact emotions have on you.  How? By noticing when you feel swept up by a strong negative emotion that “you” are observing your feeling.  And the “you” that is doing the observing is not the same “you” that is having the emotion.  That realization will enable you to make a clear distinction between “being” your emotion and “having” an emotion. And that will enable you to get some perspective on the emotion and extricate yourself from it to a large extent.

Try my suggestion and let me know what happens in a comment.

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  1. […] Originalartikel „You are not your feelings“ ist auf seinem Blog […]

  2. Arthur July 27, 2012 at 6:53 am - Reply

    How can you do the impossible.
    How can you observe your feelings. They are invisible aren’t they. My feelings and emotions has no shape unless I in my imagination make it into samething. But that is cheating:(
    I can only feel something or maybe? notice some feeling but can’t observe it. Unless I don’t fully understand english meaning of word observe and that could be a fact.:)

  3. Artur February 17, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi B Ramakrishnan,
    Now I become very upset at your comments.
    I don’t want to continue this thread with you and I wish I didn’t have a feeling that I have which is that you are one of the Life gurus trying to fix things in peoples lives.
    I thank you very much for your reply. It took your time and your thinking but I say take care of your life – whatever your life means to you and live my life alone :)
    I am angry with your comments even I still like your and analyze your replies.

  4. Artur February 17, 2012 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Hi B Ramakrishnan,
    I really appreciate your comments and your advices. I never asked for any advices but I appreciate your work and thank you for this.
    I have a feeling that my opinion about you being a life guru was right and if you like to be one – why not to beJ.
    Thank you.

  5. matthew February 12, 2012 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Hi all :)

    This has been a very varied debate. Interesting to read, everyone seems to have a great deal to share on this matter. I’ve enjoyed reading the post aswell as all of your comments.

    As we are discussing feelings not being ‘me’ or ‘I’, I would like to add something to this… If feelings disappear as Morty said we are still here… But are we really? What we are is actually a flowing river of elements emotions thought, consciousness, and all the elements of nature. In the moment we are not our emotions because really there is no self to grasp… It’s a flowing changing river. But feelings have their roots and causes, when one thing changes, everything changes.

    In my experience we cannot easily think our way out of this, it takes mindfulness of what is happening and the causes, which also requires practicing mindfulness and letting go/calming as much as possible, it’s easier for a calm mind to be mindful… which leads to understanding and love. We need to be able to see what is really happening directly. Then changing meaning is an easy affair… Because you can see directly what is effective and loving and what us ineffective and judgemental/presumptuous.

    Much love to you all. Matt

    • Artur February 16, 2012 at 2:52 am - Reply

      Hi matthew,
      “As we are discussing feelings not being ‘me’ or ‘I’, I would like to add something to this… If feelings disappear as Morty said we are still here… But are we really?
      In the moment we are not our emotions because really there is no self to grasp… ”

      That is so far my experience as well.

      • B Ramakrishnan February 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm - Reply


        I Understand what you say Artur. There is no self to grasp when you are not your thoughts and not your emotions.

        Thoughts and Emotions are limited in scope and in duration. They have sharp limits and boundaries, which is why they can be grasped. You have a belief that you need to be solid enough to grasp.

        What you are is pure potential. Potential is like Air or Vacuum, it can only be experienced, not grasped. You are the playground where thoughts and emotions gambol day and night. Others who play are dreams, visions, fears, nightmares, opinions, beliefs, conditionings, limitations etc.

        You are the stage and all these are the performers. Choose the play you want to see or to participate in. It is as simple as that !

        Infinity needs no anchor. It is only the limited that needs anchors and a focus.

        • Artur February 17, 2012 at 1:45 am - Reply

          Hi, B Ramakrishnan.
          I wanted to reply to your above post but there is no reply button here any more so I reply here.

          Thank you very much for your long post.
          I hope I understand what you are saying and I agree with some and don’t agree with some as well.
          And some of your opinions made me actually angry so I will dissolve the meaning but will keep my opinion of you and of what you wrote. Just like you made an opinion of meJ
          I don’t like this thread to go on forever because I don’t like Life Gurus that tell me who I am and I feel you took a role of one.J
          So for me this thread is done.
          Honestly, thank you again very much.

          • B Ramakrishnan February 17, 2012 at 7:24 am


            I am not a Life Guru. Nor am I stating opinions. This is simply what I experience.

            If my “opinions”make you angry, you need to see what about them triggers the anger. Anger for me arises when I feel threatened or I feel somebody has encroached in “my space”.

            All I did was point out that anything that you grasp has to be limited with boundaries. Whether you believe it or not, you are limitless. Therefore you cannot grasp at your self, simply because you exceed your grasp. Grasping your self is like trying to grasp Mount Everest with one hand.

            When you distinguish that you are neither your emotion/feelings or your thoughts, you feel that there is nothing to hold on to. True enough. Can you trust yourself to just exist and let events happen ? Try it.

            You do not have to feel/think to exist. This is the point Morty is trying to make. You are looking at feelings and emotions as a means of justifying your existence. There is no need to justify anything. You exist. Period. Deal with it. This is not opinion. This is cold hard fact. This can be verified by your own experience without needing to involve or engage with me at all.

            Now if I had an agenda, I would get all upset and start justifying everything I said and try and prove you wrong. You are not wrong. But you are not having the complete truth. Nor am I claiming to have it.

            All I am saying is empirical evidence of my own. Use it or discard it as you will. All I am saying is that it opens out an entirely new dimension of living. Try it is my recommendation.

          • B Ramakrishnan February 17, 2012 at 7:58 am

            If it was something about purpose and how dissolving all occurences can create the kind of symptoms you described that annoyed you, I apologise.

            It is not an opinion that I expressed of you. In reality, I could not concieve how a person can have the kind of symptoms or the kind of observations you, Gordon and Matthew had.

            I actually systematically recreated the circumstances that could replicate the kind of observations you had. The earlier posts are the result of such a direct observation.

            The thing that emerged from this is that your SELF has a purpose, that is different from your conscious purpose, that you formed through your intellect. The only reason you can get angry with what I said, it that your conscious self assumed that I dismissed you as a person with no purpose.

            That is not true at any level. Your Self has a purpose, whether you are aware of it or not. it is only when you are empty of all thought and feeling, that this purpose can reveal itself to you.

            In one of your posts you said that you had depression, when you started to dissolve occurrences. Why depression ? Why not anger or frustration or Joy or Bliss ? Depression sets in when a person throws in the towel in trying to convince a horse to drink water but it refuses to do so, endandering it itself and you. Like a train wreck in slow motion. You are powerless to stop it and you just know that the damage is going to be catastrophic. It is the body count that leads to the depression.

            Your higher self is trying to throw as many hints as possible to alert you to your true purpose. If you start dissolving all meaning in this circumstance, obviously depression is the result. This also explains the kind of joy you get in treasuring your feelings. Your higher self is rejoicing that you are finally listening !

            Now in my self appointed role as a Life Guru, I put your alternatives before you.

            1. You can and should continue as you have stated of treasuring your feelings. You have talked of conflicts in you. What is conflicting ? My take is that your conscious purpose and the purpose of your higher self have a conflict. As you proceed down your chosen path, things will become clearer. The only thing is that it will take time and much effort and strife on your path.

            2. Your second choice is to discover your higher purpose asap. if you go to any qualified hynotherapist or a Timeline NLP practitioner they can ascertain your higher purpose in one sitting. Once you know this higher purpose, you will find all conflicts gone, all depression gone.

            This is my advice. Take it or leave it.

  6. gordon February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I agree we are not our emotions AND WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS. This experience is what I took out of a 10 day meditation retreat.

    As a result we are just living the experience of feeling the sense of here and now. That experience was quite tangible following the retreat.

    It is a skill to sense and feel our emotions and say thats a feeling or a thought its not watch me and watch and feel it pass. This what I try to do.

    However I have trouble with your concept of giving it no meaning. As a human we need to give things meaning to understand, rationalise and give meaning to our life and what is around us. Morty this part of your equation i do not compute.

    • Morty Lefkoe February 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Gordon,

      It’s not that I think we should or shouldn’t give events meaning, it’s that events don’t have any inherent meaning. Whether we want them to or not, they don’t.

      So if we make up a meaning and know we made it up, that’s fine. But if we make up a meaning and think it’s real, as if the event REALLY has that meaning, it just isn’t true. And it can result in a lot of problems, including negative feelings.

      I also disagree that we need to give meaning. This isn’t my theory. It’s what I’ve discovered in my experience. As a result of taking my own Occurring Course, I have stopped giving meaning to most events most of the time. This also is true for a couple of hundred others who’ve taken my course. They all tell me their lives are much better now that they either don’t give meaning or can dissolve it as it happens.


      • gordon February 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm - Reply

        Marty, what distinguishes us from animals, if we do not interpret and attempt to give meaning to events and happenings around us. Our intelligence gives meaning to our life – otherwise is not life meaningless.

        I understand the concept of letting go and not being your thoughts or feelings. Ideally we can step outsider ourselves and see our thoughts and feelings. But that does not mean that I cannot see that this action appears that this person appears to be acting this way due to this & I should adjust to that interpretation at my peril. I think therefore I can interpret and adjust myself to my interpretation of events.

        • Morty Lefkoe February 13, 2012 at 8:35 am - Reply

          Hi Gordon,

          Take a look at a couple of recent blog posts where I discuss your comments in more detail. Then let me know what you think.


        • Artur February 16, 2012 at 2:48 am - Reply

          Hi Gordon and Morty,
          I agree with You Gordon. I also experience times of deep meditations in which I could do many things with my “mind” – but I notice that without a thought I can’t really do almost anything and feel anything.
          I couldn’t write this reply to you if I didn’t have thoughts and if before writing I didn’t analyze and have opinion on about what you and what Morty wrote. I needed to have my thinking going on to do anything with the situation (your and Mortys reply’s).
          I wanted to write this reply because I thought that was what I wanted to do and the wanting to write came from my beliefs and meaning I gave this event.
          So maybe I didn’t give it a very visible MEANING but I had to give it a meaning, a though.

          I also notice that when I got too much into dissolving meanings – my life started to be very unfeeling and I started to be physically sick and I notice that I was repressing so much of my feelings wanting to be enlighten, good, perfect, nice, quite etc.
          My life started to be not so good. Depression started to happen, so much of criticizing me for still having some angry feelings and the huge need to not to have negative feelings was putting so much pressure on me.
          And I started to miss times when I was a kid and felt so much and never had problems with what I felt and I didn’t have a need to do anything special with my feelings. So now I am not that crazy about dissolving meanings and feelings at all and becoming enlighten. That is my experience.
          I actually started to love what I feel and not criticism me for having feelings and giving things my own meanings.
          But I also look at the inner conflicts that I have and the opposing beliefs that are fighting with each other in me.

          • B Ramakrishnan February 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm


            Thought I would add a little to this mix.

            When an event occurs, it has no meaning. To give an example. The Sun rises. It rises whether we want it or not. It rises at the time it rises. That there is a pattern to it is part of mankind’s observation. Therefore by analyzing the data, we get to know more about the cosmos.

            The events under discussion are the events we take personally. Like somebody getting dissed at what we have done. Whether they get dissed with or without reason is a separate issue. What Morty is talking about is that we acknowledge the fact that somebody is dissed, stop it from bothering us and blaming ourselves or calling ourselves names and go ahead and fix the problem.

            It is when we start playing the blame game with ourselves that the true mischief happens. Another variation is to transfer the blame to the other party in the form of a belief. How Morty rationalised the belief about Shelly and messes.

            We have to stop making everything personally. That is what Morty talks about becoming the watcher. It can lead to the kind of impersonalization that Artur talks about. That comes from a belief that I have to feel to be human. Maybe so.

            The question is what are you really ? Human ? I don’t think so. Does Robert De Niro think he is Scarface ? If you have done the WAIR process, you will find that you are pure Potential. Potential does not feel, it just acts !

            Feeling are like horses. You have to take the horse in the direction YOU want to go in. Dissolve all occurences that take you away from where you want to go. Artur feels dessicated and adrift essentially because he has started dissolving all occurences indiscriminately.

            If you have a strong sense of purpose like Morty or me, you can afford to dissolve all occurences because you have your purpose to give meaning to what happens to you. For a person who has yet to take up a purpose with any degree of intensity, dissolving all occurences may be a recipe for disaster.

            In the absence of purpose, feelings have to to be our guides. We can allow the feelings to tell us what events carry special meanings for us, dissolve the occurence but at the same time think on the issue and come to a process that can resolve the issue once and for all. This takes care of the issues in this thread !

  7. robby February 8, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    I have heard this concept – or “fact” (?) before from you, and other self-help groups/books/seminars, that we are “not our emotions”.

    I think we are our more than our emotions, or our thoughts, or our bodies, or our beliefs and identities, etc. but our emotions are certainly part of us.

    If someone I love dies- I feel sad – and you (not knowing that person) probably wouldn’t feel (your own) sadness hearing the news. You might feel empathy for me – or it might trigger your own past grief- but you are not going to feel MY emotions any more than I’m going to digest your lunch; therefore my emotions must be some part of me and not you – right?

    I have noticed that feelings “disappear’ as you say – but could it also be that they are just being repressed or go dormant(for whatever reasons- maybe you have to “pull yourself together” for work for example).

    I believe, and have experienced some emotional reactions to specific triggers go away or lessen, via your work and Sedona and TFT – but sadness or fear being completely gone hasn’t happened for me – lessened- yes.

    If my partner were to die tomorrow – I bet I would feel a lot of NEW grief – and I think that that is OK – because it seems to be the way human beings are wired or meant to be i.e. feeling beings.

    Sometimes I think I have wasted a lot of my time and money in this life searching for “the holy grail of emotional freedom” -trying to get rid of negative feelings that are just part and parcel to what a human being’s life will be about, i.e. up, down and in-between.


    • Morty Lefkoe February 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Robby,

      I don’t agree that negative feelings are inherent in life. They are the result of the meaning we give events and if we dissolve the meaning or give the events a different meaning, the feeling either will just disappear or change.

      That is a fact that I’ve experienced personally and that a couple of hundred people in my Occurring Course have reported to me over and over.

      When our survival was at stake very moment thousands of years ago, having an automatic mechanism that automatically giving meaning to events was evolutionarily useful. Today I’m not so sure.


  8. Paul February 8, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply


    This is one of your best posts so far. I think you really hit the nail on the head when you say, “It also can be difficult to let go of an emotion when it feels as if the emotion is validating the meaning we’ve given an event.”

    That definitely reflects my past experiences in hanging onto negative emotions about past events. But after completing Natural Confidence and taking your first course in learning how to facilitate the LBP, the distinction that I am not my emotions, and that I can choose the meaning that determines my emotions, has become real to me on a continual basis.


  9. Margarita February 8, 2012 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Negative feelings are to be felt, but need to go away. I use the same technique when I have to dissolve pain. Just go in the middle of the feeling (pain) and start describing it. I have developed my watcher by years of medidating. Detaching helps a lot. Sometimes it makes people around you uncomfortable. Because you watch them too, and this is a very “feeling naked” thing.

  10. Bettina February 8, 2012 at 8:17 am - Reply

    IMO this post is more for people who are consumed and controlled by their “negative” emotions.

    I love the whole range of my beautiful emotions. If I am awake, then they serve as navigators and yes as Taye pointed out, even anger can be harnessed as a powerful energy to propel me to make authentic changes in my thinking and behavior. I don’t believe we should try and “fix” ourselves by eliminating all emotions and thus becoming automatons. The trick as always is balance. Only then can our emotions truly serve us as.

    But, it’s not easy as Jaoa pointed out. Most of us are not fully awake. I often get consumed with anger, frustration and despair as a result of something that someone did or said. I am someone who can weep for the world, so my emotions can also be triggered internally by just my own thoughts.

    It is a challenge to be awake enough to pull yourself out of that state when you are right in the middle of it. But there comes a point when I am exhausted and it is only when the grip has loosened do I have any chance of thinking rationally about what just happened.

    I often don’t get any warning when an emotion is going to “strike”. As much as I can sit here and type in a calm and lucid state, it’s a whole different situation when I am completely consumed with the emotion.

    There is no quick fix. I know that if I eat healthily then I am less likely to snap at someone or react badly just because I am hungry. I get really moody if I am not fed or watered regularly! I get angry at myself if my body lets me down so I know I should do some regular exercise. These are just basic examples of how to create easy changes.

    Self-improvement or working on yourself is a hard slog. There are no shortcuts! I know when I am in balance then I can identify what triggers me and then I can formulate a strategy to make changes to see if that reduces the frequency of attack.

    It doesn’t need to be a battle of power between body and mind . I know the only way I can pull myself out of the old way of thinking and behaving is to call a truce and then try and work in harmony with myself. I know when my body and mind are in sync with each other then there is peace in my soul.

    The solution is simple but it is not something that can happen instantly and quickly. For me it is something I work on every single day and I know I have to put in maximum effort in order to be the person I want to be.

    Now my comrades it is time for a group hug! Let’s not be so hard on ourselves, we are all on this journey together.

    Thank you Morty for sharing yourself with us.

  11. Meera Sharma February 8, 2012 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Excellent!! I say that because I have been doing this for sometime and know through my own experience that when ‘I’ start focusing on my feeling I am having, instesd of being overwhelmed by it , somehow it dissolves.

    But I allow it to be whem I am happy. :-) Thank you for making this valuable information available to everyone.

  12. Taye Bela Corby February 8, 2012 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    Why would I want to get rid of or eliminate my emotions? I would assert the anger you talk about in the above is not anger at all. But reactivity, the kind of anger our parents taught us, which is really powerlessness. That kind of anger is only a gate keeper to real anger, which is the most under rated awe inspiring energy imaginable. When real anger is allowed to express, it says, “no more.” It’s the catalsyst that proceeds real change. Learning how to discern what you feel comes from being present to it, not obliterating or obscuring it.

    Tuning in to your emotions as navigators, impulses towards alertness, messengers of your true essence helps many of us get to know ourselves better. For the pupose of loving and accepting ourselves in the wholeness of who we really are. So that we can act in a way that is congruent and in our own best interest.

    I’d like to see all of us grow to be more authentic creatures of our own nature. Go out into the world from a place of recognition of our gifts and talents, what makes us uniquely us. I am not my feelings. However, my feelings are a well of information that are my greatest teachers, even the ones that pain and discourage me. Some people are like me. They adore giving all their voices (emotions) a part. A full range of emotional expression is what I’m after.

    Love, Taye

    • Paul February 8, 2012 at 9:46 am - Reply


      I don’t think Morty is advising us to get rid of our emotions. Rather, he is saying that it is common to identify ourselves by our emotions, as if our emotions are us. Instead, what is healthier is to see that we have our emotions, our emotions don’t have us.

      I think emotions can be an indicator, but they can also continue to cause us needless pain for a long time. Being able to see how our emotions stem from our emotions, which means we can choose them, is powerful, and permits us to choose not to suffer needlessly.


  13. JOAO February 8, 2012 at 3:48 am - Reply

    Dear Morty, here we are again.Sorry I don´t agree with you, see this example.
    if I have time to think(if I am calmdown), is easy f=very very easy, to do or think as you talk,but , really when you are under emotion, Oh my, you don´t think(if you could think, just thinking you erase the emotion),and do say or feel in ona unsatisfatory way, frustrated and blow up, saying things that make the situation worst.Please if you really have solution for this, I will be your “cobaia” to try it.HOW CAN I IN A STRESSFULL SITUATION COULD STOP, SEPARE MYSLEF FOR THE OCCORRENCE, AND CALM RACIONALIZE AND DON´T DO SAY OR BECOME ANGRY.Thanks.

    • Lauren February 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      I dissolve meanings, even when there are a lot of powerful emotions, all the time. Situations, in themselves, are not stressful. You are giving the situation that meaning. You create the meaning through the beliefs and conditionings you hold. When you find yourself becoming upset in a situation, take a step back. It’s all about AWARENESS. It’s saying to yourself, “Hey, I’m upset. What can I do in this split-second to change that?” And practice in minor situations until it becomes automatic. This IS the solution.

      • jennifer l February 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm - Reply

        Hi Lauren, what kind of exercise do you use to understand that you are giving the events meaning or how it occurs for you. What technique is effect for you when dissolving your meaning?

  14. Alex February 8, 2012 at 3:24 am - Reply

    I’ve been wondering about this recently since you mentioned in the last occurring webinar that you have lately been thinking more and more that all feelings caused by meaning can be dissolved with the occurring techniques. So you’ve made up your mind about it then. Interesting. Very interesting. Can’t wait to reach that stage.

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