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Emotions Myths: What Do You Believe About Your Emotions?

Christy Matta, M.A.

1. Would you describe yourself as moody? Do you find that you get anxious very quickly?
2. Do you sometimes feel like your emotions come out of nowhere?
3. Do you sometimes get into a mood and have trouble getting out of it?

Smiley Survey Keys on KeyboardEmotions are complex patterned reactions to events that come and go like waves in the ocean. What we think about our emotions can decrease their intensity or increase and prolong it. When you're experiencing emotions like anxiety, rejection or despair, it's important to be aware of any of your own beliefs that may be making the experience of those emotions worse.

All people worry at times that they are overreacting to a situation. We all have worries that others might judge us, if they know our feelings. And during times of emotional crisis or conflict, it's not uncommon to fear that our emotions might get out of control if we don't suppress them.

However, if we listen to our worries and over time begin to believe them, we might be setting ourselves up for continual emotional problems. Sometimes what we believe about our emotions produces increased reactivity and extreme emotion.

If you find yourself suppressing your emotions, looking to others for how you should feel, or feeling ashamed or out-of-control when you're emotional, you might hold some common distorted beliefs about emotions that impact your ability to experience and let go of painful emotions.

Common Distorted Beliefs: "There is a right way to feel in every situation." "Emotions just happen for no reason." "Expressing emotion to others is a weakness." "Other people are better judges of how I should feel than I am." "Negative feelings are bad."

Challenges to Distorted Beliefs: "Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad, smart or stupid. They just are." "All emotions, including painful and negative emotions, communicate and motivate." "Painful and negative emotions are part of everyone's life." "I do not need to act on all my emotions."

As you read through the distorted beliefs, you may find some with which you identify. If that's the case, take a moment to reflect. If you look at the belief rationally, do you agree? Is it an emotional reaction? Can you challenge your belief?

Our beliefs are often an automatic response that we are unaware of. Stopping to identify, examine and challenge them can have long lasting effects on our emotional well-being.