Making Sense of Emotions

Making Sense of Emotions

By: Angela Englander    May 22, 2015

            Primary emotions and secondary emotions are the two categories that emotions are often placed into. Primary emotions occur when the emotion you are feeling fits the situation you are in. Secondary emotions occur when the primary emotion is too scary or painful to experience or your experiences in life have conditioned you to supress or ignore one or more of your emotional experiences. Using the emotions chart for reference you can see what events and situations trigger which common emotions, what the emotion may influence you to do, and how to act opposite of that emotion to decrease its frequency and intensity.

The two most common secondary emotions are fear/anxiety and anger. Often a person will feel one of the two emotions on an ongoing basis or in intense bursts and will ignore or supress the other emotion. There are many approaches you can use to start working on creating a balance between the two emotions. One path is to accept and work to understand the emotion you have been pushing away and fighting against. For example, if you constantly ignore your anger and instead experience chronic anxiety you can reflect on what anger and anxiety mean to you. Perhaps you believe if you allow yourself to be angry when someone violates your boundaries you will lose control and all your past anger will come up and you will physically or verbally hurt someone you care about. On the other end of the spectrum you may constantly feel yourself becoming angry about relatively small experiences. You may also feel invulnerable, fearless, or that if you show people you are weak they will take advantage of you. The work on this you can begin to understand the meaning of fear and anxiety and how you can use that experience to make choices that help you keep yourself safe. You can also reflect on your experience of anger and see what role it plays in your life. Some people who experience chronic anger use this emotion to keep others away, keep themselves safe, feel tough, or to ensure no one is able to come close enough to hurt them.

Through understanding and reflecting on primary and secondary emotions you can understand your experience of emotions and work on finding your balance between all emotions.

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Thanks and have a wonderful emotionally balanced day