Debunking the Biggest Myths about Emotions

Myths about Emotions

Lisa Feldman Barrett debunks the biggest myths about emotions. No, emotions don’t happen TO you. Here’s what happens instead.

With the growth of self-help books and the fight to destigmatize therapy, people today are perhaps more unafraid than ever to talk about their emotions. But this has led to some common myths about emotions, and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett wants to debunk them.

Barrett argues that emotions are not hardwired into the brain from birth, but rather stem from events that the brain creates based on past experiences and predictions of what’s going to happen. Contrary to popular understanding, emotions are not just reactive events that happen to us — we play an active role in creating them.

By learning new things, watching movies, or even acting in a play to get outside of the normal range of what the brain predicts, Barrett argues that it’s possible to change those predictive patterns, and by doing so, to become the architects of our future selves. Understanding how our brain creates emotions can help us manage them — freeing us from repeated patterns of behaviour and empowering us to control our emotions and heal ourselves.

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