I was recently listening to a speaker talk about the topic of mental health and the importance of emotions. With all the news of suicide attempts and mental health in the media, every one now is becoming engaged in this conversation.
One of the comments the speaker made was, anger is the worst emotion and you must learn control it. Although may have had good intentions and his words meant to be a well meaning message, it was nonetheless a wrong understanding of emotions.
Let me explain to you a different way to look at emotions. Emotions have two stages or two parts. The first part is the felt emotion. This your internal experience of an emotion. For example, if you feel anger there is a physiological response your body undergoes. It may feel like tightness in your chest, sweating or heat, etc.
The second part of an emotion is the emotion’s action urge. Each emotion that we experience has an action attached to it and we experience an urge to act on it. Continuing with the previous example, anger’s action urge is to attack.
The difference between an effective approach to emotions and an ineffective approach to emotions is noticing the urge to act and noticing what that urge is. Once we notice and can label what that urge is, the next step is to ask your self is this action appropriate?
I teach my students how to understand their emotions and changing their ineffective behaviors through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Classes, check out my free mini training to learn more.