Q: Dr. Hurd, how can cognitive therapists such as yourself say that you have responsibility for your feelings? I don’t feel what I feel on purpose!
A: Your feelings are the consequence of your thoughts and ideas. In fact, your emotions actually ARE your thoughts. Feelings are thoughts in a different form. Any given emotion you have could be given words, and the ideas behind your feelings are contained in those words. Anger at John comes from the idea, “John is wrong and unfair,” for example. Joy and happiness come from the idea, “Life is good and my life is on track.” To say that you don’t have responsibility for your emotions is like saying you don’t know how to think. If you know how to think, and if you’re willing to think, you can identify what your various feelings are — and you can take it from there with respect to how much relationship those feelings have (or don’t have) to logic and objective reality. This is the whole premise of cognitive therapy. More than that, it’s the whole premise for being able to manage your mind, your emotions and your life.