I've been thinking lately about how I look at my emotions and how that affects what I do in response to them. Marsha Linehan's DBT Emotion regulation handout 2 addresses this. It presents some myths about emotion and encourages us to write out truth as a "challenge" to each myth. This is an important step in healthy emotion regulation. "regulating emotions" isn't the same thing as burying them, and for a long time that's how I treated it. I believed that negative emotions were bad.
The list of myths in the handout is not a complete list.
Here's one of my challenges.
Myth: Other people are the best judge of how I am feeling.
Challenge: I'm the one who is inside my head, so I know best how I am feeling.
I also have myths about emotion from a spiritual perspective.
- God wants me to be joyful at all times, so that means I should never be sad.
- I shouldn't be unhappy about anything because God is probably giving me what I deserve (disciplining me).
- God responds to my emotions just like people do.
- I should never be angry because (a) it's not Christlike; or (b) vengeance is God's.
- Negative emotions are a sign that I am selfish.
- God isn't going to comfort me because how I feel is a choice I make.
Handout 5 was/is very helpful to me in confronting my myths. It helps to remember that my emotions are there for a reason and serve a purpose--sometimes more than one purpose--and that purpose is important.
EMOTIONS COMMUNICATE TO (AND INFLUENCE) OTHERS. ...
EMOTIONS ORGANIZE AND MOTIVATE ACTION. ...
EMOTIONS CAN BE SELF-VALIDATING.