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03/28/2011

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Dr. Meyer

Thanks for your comment and for letting me know that the Sedona Method was useful for you - I will keep that in mind.

The ongoing excessive emotional expression you described can sometimes come from an innate sensitivity and intense reactivity, one that can be exacerbated if you are surrounded by people who are not very sensitive to your feelings. Sometimes intensely reactive people can benefit from techniques that focus on emotional regulation and mindfulness, like those taught in dialectical behavior therapy (also known as DBT).

Sometimes people who are overflowing with emotions do not feel emotions about the things that have mattered most in their lives, but rather tend to emotionally spill over in response to related, but minor or distant triggers. Sometimes this happens when emotions from earlier times in life have not been consciously "felt" or clearly "digested." My post on Sentimentality gives a better sense of the internal process that I am discussing.


In terms of the difference between emotion and feeling, the distinction that I suggest is to consider emotions physical, and feelings as their mental accompaniments (see the post Emotions versus Feelings). While it is always difficult to make mind-body distinctions, this linguistic and theoretical distinction can be a useful heuristic when trying to think about the emotional complexities of your inner world.

Anonymous

I don't agree with this at all, since my problem is emotional expression (anger, tears, depression, and on the opposite side of the scale, hypomania) rather than repression. I have trouble stuffing my emotions down so I can function on a daily basis. People over-analyse their internal lives nowadays. You can't: your emotions are to a large extent separate from your conscious control.

And another thing: what's the difference between an emotion and a feeling? There isn't a difference, or if there is, the author above hasn't explained it - which they should have done in order to illustrate their point.

The whole things isn't convincing to me. But, as I said, I'm someone who expresses rather than represses. There is a third way to deal with your feelings: letting go. Look into The Sedona Method - it's way beyond this emotional navel gazing.

Elsita :)

The same way I feel when someone else is in the room where I am, even if I can't see that person. I can also feel that there are emotions hidden within me. For example, when I'm in a dangerous situation (I have been in several ones, physical and emotional ones) I tend to not have emotions, instead, I go into survival mode and do what I have to do feeling pretty much in control, I don't react with fear. I kind of know what this comes from, it's something conditioned in me from early childhood when I had to confront extreme experiences.

But at the same time, this lack or fear to dangerous situations keeps me from seeing potential danger where there is. Specially in other people. For example, while being in Italy, I walked by myself, every night, through an area full of drug addicts and crazy people. I knew that they were not regular people but I didn't think that they could do anything bad to me either. Later, when some friends knew about the area where I was walking they thought that I was crazy and asked me not to go there anymore. I listened to them. But they were really surprised about how naive I was. Now I wonder if fear is a hidden emotion in me.

Kellyn

I never would have thought that there are physical side effects for bottling up emotions. It's really interesting to think of it as retracing steps to think why something upset you or made you feel a certain way and then digging up that emotion to help get rid of the stress it is causing the rest of your body. I will use this strategy of looking for misplaced emotions next time I feel stressed or think I may have buried an emotion that is causing me problems.

Michelle

I think that its great to learn how to get your emotions to work with you instead of against you. Seeing how emotions can at times be all over the place, it is comforting knowing that there may be a way to control them in an effective and useful manner

Claire

I wonder how we can indicate what emotion we are feeling. is it sadness, confusion, anger, or a mix of all three? If we are unable to extract from our knowledge the word that describes our specific emotion then do we instead assume we are experiencing a different emotion just because the word for it is more readily available? There are no inherent labels for emotions, instead they are constructed by society. This leads me to wonder if people are misunderstanding what emotion they are experiencing and what the result of this would be.

Brionna O'Connor

The emphasis on emotions over stress is excellent! Reading about stress always causes me more stress; but, with an emphasis on emotions and feelings, your writing really promotes action over just dealing with that stress that results from hi-jacked emotions. Clever title! I had a teacher that always taught me success is in the wit. Good work!

Sarah Ballan

I agree with your insight that emotions are suppressed and can become activated if prompted. There are times when a particular emotion is more prevalent than others. For example, if I am frustrated with new material presented to me in a classroom, I will feel frustrated until I understand what is being taught. My feelings of frustration will temporarily disappear until I am confronted with another new problem that I have never seen before. At this moment, my suppressed feelings of confusion will return.

Ally Reiner

People should not keep their emotions bottled up because it will hurt more in the long run. Talking out your feelings is the best way to solve issues.

Lauren J.

I never thought of suppressed emotions being stored in our bodies, even in our bones. When you ask us to focus on certain recurring feelings to discover our hijacked emotions are you implying that we should search for them? This makes sense if, like you mentioned they accumulate and form stress, because identifying them they will no longer be kidnapped and can be released and de-stress you. Thanks for your insight!

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  • Dr. Meyer has worked in private practice in West Los Angeles for over 25 years, and is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA and her B.A. from Oberlin College.


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