How to “health check” an emotion

Posted by Rex Alexander on Wed 10 Jan 24 in Emotions, Guest Author, zz-MONTH-1 |


As I’m usually teaching, we basically have three points to “health check” an emotion:
1. Is it “too much”- that is, is a “level of nervous arousal” (or what suitable term you may prefer instead) disproportional to an activating event from objective point of view (with all usual caveats for the term “objective” in such cases); does it hurt too much, or vice versa, makes you much more euphoric than warranted by circumstances?
2. Does it “makes” you behave impulsively in self-defeating fashion? In other words, if you “listen to your feelings” and obey, would it sabotage your own best interests?

3. Does your thinking (or, if you will, cognition generally, including perception, attention, memory) gets extremely and maladaptively distorted – most importantly, do you tend to believe in more irrational ideas while experiencing the feeling?
Of course, any such “lenses” could only be used if a person has enough self-observation and affect tolerance to hold on his\her own emotions without acting on them for such scrutiny; but practically speaking this is rarely a serious problem for most people I’ve met, if you just explain the system carefully
After all, what’s most important is to show our patients that they really have a hand in their emotional responses, and that unhealthy feelings, while obviously valid psychologically (they have a reason in a personal belief system), are utterly futile and we can stop generating (yes, literally creating) them with our own thinking and behaving



Guest author, Max Alex Ilin, is a psychologist, counsellor (CBT), musician (bass, guitar, sax). Translations, visual/written content.
Max on facebook 




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