Environment and Emotions

Does our environment, upbringing, and culture have a part to play in the formation of our emotional makeup? People often ask me this question. Answer: yes and no! They can have a part. When they do, what part they play is the question.  What is the relationship between environment and emotions in our emotional makeup?

Our Emotional Judgments

We have learned that our reactions or responses to our world are our emotions’ judgments of that world. But these emotional judgments do not shape the basic framework of how we are emotionally designed. Our temperament will determine that. Our emotional judgments are the results of what we see of our environment and how our first impressions evaluate them.

An Illustration of Basic Design Differences

The difference between the NT and the NF temperaments illustrates a difference in basic design. One minimizes emotion and the other maximizes its use and importance. The mold is cast by the temperament. The judgments our emotions make reflect both the drive of emotion in our temperament’s preferences and our environmental conditioning. Unless pressured by other forces sufficiently to overcome our temperament’s preferences, our preferences will win.

The Cultural Side of Environment and Emotions

Culture (one of those environmental influences), for example, may make it acceptable or unacceptable to express an emotion under certain conditions. In that case, a modification of our temperament’s preferences may take place. However, even if culture or one’s upbringing modifies our emotions, they don’t eliminate them. The emotions may simply hide inside us, finding no outward expression. Though not expressed visibly or audibly, they are still there — hidden, not eliminated. For the NF temperament, outward expression of emotions may well be only the tip of the iceberg compared to what is hidden.

Circumstances Are Not Responsible.  We Are.

We can’t blame circumstances or any other condition for an emotion because emotions are our judgments of whatever we encounter. It may be true that under certain circumstances most people are seen to have a particular emotion.  But all that tells us about emotion is that people have similar reactions under the same circumstances.  It does not mean that the circumstances are the cause of the emotion. We build values that factor into our emotion’s judgments (the way our emotions see our world) and we are offered the chance to accept or modify our emotions. Therefore, we are involved and responsible for their use.

Ricky’s Choice

“Should I leave my job?” Ricky asked, hoping for a confirmation of his feelings. “I go to work every day dreading it and feeling empty. I hate my job. The boss is a jerk! Everyday, he irritates me and treats me as though I don’t matter. I’m tired of it. I don’t think I can continue to be angry like this anymore. My job is making me angry.”

Ricky had several options. The one he did not have if he was to be intelligently emotional was to blame his anger on his job or his boss. Anger was his response to all that was happening, an emotion he could confirm or condemn.  He must own his responsibility for the option he chose.

We Have Responsibility Over Environment and Emotions

That sounds inconsiderate and non-empathetic given Ricky’s circumstances, but Ricky will never be able to master his emotions until he understands where personal responsibility lies and where he must position himself to do something about it. Owning our emotion means positioning ourselves in the place of responsibility where we can affect a change and be the change agent if we so choose. Disowning it is to take the stance of a victim, giving up the opportunity to be in control of the situation, and resorting to blaming anyone and everyone.

When environment challenges us, we can ask the question, “Do I want to control my life or shift control to my circumstances?”


Intelligently Emotional Book CoverMy hope is that this book will lead you, as its content has led many others, to be intelligently emotional. If it helps you to develop the intelligent use of your emotions and a rewarding lifestyle, my labor will not have been in vain.  You can access it HERE.  If you are subscribed to our weekly updates, our next issue will provide a link to purchase it with a 15% discount and free shipping.





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