In DBT session 3, my therapist helped me look at emotions, the purpose of them and misconceptions I may have about them. The first thing we covered was identifying emotions as positive or negative for example ‘interest’ was positive, anger was negative but surprise could be either positive or negative depending on what the surprise is. I also learned about secondary emotions which are emotions that arise because of the main emotion being felt, for example, you could be angry and feel guilt for feeling that anger.
My therapist and I then looked at a myths about emotions worksheet, she went through the list of myths with me while I decided whether I believed in them or not and looked at how to challenge my beliefs, for example I have struggled with the belief that “negative emotions are bad and destructive” for years, I was ashamed of my anger because I knew the damage it could do.
The example on how to challenge this belief on the worksheet was “negative feelings are natural” which is understandable but I would often struggle to understand whether my feelings were justified. This reminded me of what my neurofeedback therapist said about anger, she said that anger spurs us into action, if people like the suffragettes hadn’t got angry about the way things were nothing would have changed since the 1900s.
That’s also what we looked at in DBT, the purpose of our emotions and what they can motivate us to do. Anxiety would make us want to retreat to preserve ourselves, Anger would spur us into defense mode to protect ourselves or those we care about and guilt would make us look at our actions and realize what we could do better; the example my therapist gave me of guilt was if you were a parent and you were really busy working, you may feel guilt about not spending enough time with your children thus motivating you to perhaps make adjustments to your work schedule and spend more time with family.
We can also use emotions to communicate and influence others, this can be through tone of voice or body language, consciously or unconsciously we are always communicating our feelings with others and this can influence their behavior towards us.
Emotions also are good communicators to ourselves and can act as indicators that something is wrong or say something about ourselves and what we like/don’t like. However, people tend to mistake their feelings as fact, especially if you feel so intensely that the objective situation is unclear. This would be where mindfulness skills come in, as it encourages us to look at our emotions with curiosity instead of judgement, allowing us to fully understand what the emotions are there for and deal with them appropriately.
Thanks for reading ❤
You can also follow me on twitter: @Addict2L (Redefine The Borderline)