What are emotions? What good are emotions? I know there are many times when it would be nice to push all of our painful emotions down as deep as they can go and hopefully they will just go away.
But we all know that’s not what happens. Battling painful emotions is a daily occurrence for BPD, sometimes we shift from elation to anger in the space of a few minutes. When splitting starts acting up we can shift from iolization of a person to demonization in a matter of seconds, and back again. It’s painful, it’s terrible, and it’s frightening.
So what do we do about it?
Emotions are messy, complex, and crazy. Or they are clarifying, clear and help communicate. They are all these things and more, they can be painful, surprising, comforting, subtle, obnoxious…
The official definition (according to DBT) is that Emotions are complex responses that involve changes in the brain and body as a result of neurochemicals.
Dysregulation is what happens when our emotions become too strong to control. The chemical activity in our brain may become unbalanced and make emotions overactive or under-active, depending on your biology and/or environment. Emotions then run on a feedback loop that can make them painful, changing rapidly from one moment to the next.
But you knew that already. The experience of super-fast changes in painful emotions with no discernible cause is our bread and butter. The biggest challenge of this module is identifying and regulating intense emotions before they turn into the dysfunctional behaviours that define BPD.
Dysfunctional behaviour are the solutions we turn to when emotions are intolerably painful. Hopefully, we can learn to regulate the emotions before they turn into problem behaviours, and we can carry on with our lives in a more balanced and healthy way.
Let’s bust some myths!
MYTH: There is a right way to feel in every situation. CHALLENGE: There is no wrong way to feel in any situation
MYTH: Letting others know how I feel is weakness. CHALLENGE: Reaching out for support when emotions are overwhelming is a sign of great strength
MYTH: Negative feelings are bad and destructive. CHALLENGE: It’s not the feelings, its the behaviours that can become destructive.
MYTH: Being emotional means being out of control. CHALLENGE: Being emotional means responding to your environment.
MYTH: Emotions can just happen for no reason. CHALLENGE: Emotions are reactions to stimulus.
MYTH: Some emotions are really stupid. CHALLENGE: All emotions can be validated.
MYTH: All painful emotions are a result of a bad attitude. CHALLENGE: All emotions are for a reason.
MYTH: If others don’t approve of my feelings, I obviously shouldn’t feel the way I do. CHALLENGE: My feelings are my own.
MYTH: Other people are the best judge of how I’m feeling. CHALLENGE: We ourselves are the best judge of ourselves.
MYTH: Painful emotions are not really important and should be ignored. CHALLENGE: Painful emotions allow for growth. Ignoring them will only make them stronger and more painful.
MYTH: Emotions define who we are. CHALLENGE: Emotions are a part of us – not the whole.