In Session: Trusting Your Emotions

Diad WhyTxScott:  I want to get rid of this anger!

Peter:  How so?

S:  It is horrible when it comes...I don’t know what to do! I cannot control myself and soon I start beating up on everyone ... not physically, but just screaming, yelling, even throwing know?

P:  I do know, yes.

S:  And it’s just horrible. I'm a good person, but sometimes things upset me so much, and I end up with people who should understand me, leaving me.  Do you know what I mean?

P:  Perfectly.

S:  What do I do?

P:  What kinds of things to you rage about?

S:  Mmm, you know ... like when I get another bill for example, I get really pissed!

P:  I understand. What is wrong with bills?

S: I don’t really have a problem with it...I know I owe the money!

P:  Well, if it didn’t bother you, you wouldn't that angry, would you?

S:  I suppose... I do not understand why they keep billing me though. I already do all I can to make everything right!

It’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? It seems to me that when you get a bill it is as if you were being insulted, or, like you feel harassed.

S:  I guess...Right!

P:  But is it, in fact an insult? Is it really harassment?

S: Am I not supposed to trust my emotions?

P:  Yes, but it’s more complicated than that. 

S:  What do you mean?

P:  An emotion is the result of several components: our education, the environment in which we find ourselves, our mood at a given moment, and especially, the beliefs and responses we have learned to make in similar situations.  So emotion is not ‘pure.’  They don’t stand alone. They are generated by several factors, especially your interpretation of what is happening, and the stories you tell yourself about the event! See, the problem is that so often your interpretation is wrong, or that your mood on a particular day is "bad," and this affects their level of intensity and how appropriate your expression of them is.  At those times, feeling something is different from being "right"...we’re just feeling, and that’s all! See? Just because you’re feeling something, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re feelings are accurate...

S:  Then, what does “trust my emotions mean?”

P:  First, trust means relying on the reality that your emotion is telling you something about how you're living a given situation. It means taking responsibility for what you are feeling and knowing that you will do something appropriate with them, no matter how intense or irrational or activating they are.  It means building an intimate, disciplined relationship between you and whatever you feel: learning every day from your feelings, as well as from what you do with them.  Trusting your emotions leads to the construction of self knowledge. Self knowledge always leads to personal power. 

P:  Trust means accepting that you're feeling what you're feeling, right or wrong.  When we accept, then we honor our perception, right or wrong. Then we can use it properly.  When we deny what we feel, we are putting aside our perception and we’re not able to give it the proper treatment.

P:  When we accept our feelings as valid, we can then learn to talk with our emotion, to reflect with our emotion, to check-in with it. Here’s what I mean: often it is necessary to understand what perception, is causing the emotion we are feeling.  Fear, for example always warns us about something we do not know how to handle.  We are interpreting something as ‘dangerous.’  It is important to listen to your fear and decide if there really is a threat or if this is simply an incorrect perception (which we have all the time).  Another example is anger. Your anger may have to do with a perception that your boundaries are being violated, or the perception that you are being used, or assaulted on basic principles of our integrity.  So it’s important to check to see if this is really happening or if you're just in a bad mood that day and if your misinterpretations are running away with you.

P:  When we are giving value and credence to what we feel, we can accept and check the suitability of our emotions.  That empowers us to have a more balance between our thought and our emotions when it is time to act mindfully, appropriately.  Choosing how to react with the emotion we feel is critical to learning to trust our emotions.  People who explode when they are angry, for example, generally do not like to feel angry and so they can’t rely on it very much. How do I know that?  Well, how’s your anger worked for you so far?  What results have your anger gotten you? For someone who knows how to perceive events differently -- for someone who can determine weather their perception is really accurate or not, anger becomes an ally; a feeling to trust. It’s the same with fear for those who fight, or run, or paralyze before an event even happens.  For those who use reflection to balance perception to learn and go beyond, fear is welcome protector.  It's the same with all of your emotions.  Get it?

P:  Learning to trust your feelings by accepting, checking-in and then behaving in an integrated way, generates a feeling of confidence because your response becomes appropriate to any life situation...and it become respected by others too.  It simply makes life easier...and you end up feeling more integrated.  So, when we trust ourselves, we become trustworthy.  What do you think? 

Please feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below. 

 Peter Roseman Psy.S.

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