How Secondary Emotions Hinder You From Healing From Depression


Are you ready to start letting go of some of those distorted painful feelings? I hope the last couple of videos helped you get the idea that the process of struggling with and shaming your emotions makes feel worse, but I also hope you haven’t gotten the idea that I just have to feel crappy forever.

 You just have to go through the stage of feeling to get to the stage of feeling better.

Just because we aren't labeling emotions as “good” or “bad” and we aren't struggling with or fighting them doesn't mean that all emotions are truthful or even what we are really feeling.

 There's a lot of reason, why something we are feeling isn’t going to be helpful, but to get to this where we’re exploring that we have to stop judging and resisting and labeling our emotions, long enough to explore them and figure out what’s under them. 

So there's a lot of reasons why what we’re feeling isn’t based on reality. It could be cognitive distortions, an unhelpful worldview, self-justification, or what we are going to talk about in this section, secondary emotions.

Secondary emotions are a habitual or learned response to cover up sensitive emotions, with a less sensitive emotion.

So, for example, fear is sensitive, hate is less sensitive. So people often cover up their fear with hatred. Secondary emotions are all about so protection, but in the long run, it tends to hurt us much more by ruining relationships, keeping our guard up, keeping our hearts walled off, and that often leads to people feeling angry, numb, and exhausted.


 Secondary emotions lead to more pain and suffering.  So in this section, you are going to learn what they are, how to notice them, and what to do instead.

 And this is going to help you more effectively overcoming Anxiety, depression, and get better at the feeling.

 One of the reasons we have a difficult time knowing how to act on our emotions is that many of our emotions are secondary. 

They are emotions about an emotion, instead of emotion, about an event. And usually, they're used to cover up your primary emotions. So for example I get a bad grade on a test so I'm disappointed. There’s the Primary emotion.

 That disappointment hurts because I know I didn't study hard enough, so then I get angry, storm out of the class, and feel ashamed because I got angry. Because I know it was my fault that I didn’t do well. The anger and the shame stem from the reaction to the disappointment.

Or here's another example, right? I just found out that we have to move to a different city because my dad got a new job and I'm sad. That’s a primary emotion, and then I feel guilty for feeling sad because I know I should be supporting my family and my dad, even though I don’t want to move.

 So guilt comes as a learned response to sadness. And here is one more; you could say I hate my boss; you might think saying something like that aloud is a healthy emotional expression, and it might get you started, but if you just stick with I hate her it doesn’t leave you with many options right?

You can quit, you can gossip, you can be bitter, you can complain, you can dread going to work, right? Not many good options, in there, but why do you hate your boss? Is it because she is critical? Is it because she gives you too much work? Or she doesn’t appreciate the hard work you do? If you hate her because she is critical, what is that really about? Is it about being afraid that you are not good enough?

Is it about being afraid that you will get fired and run out of food and die? What you thought was hate, was a stress response. When you realize the emotion is really about fear, and then it gives you some options right? I feel afraid, am I actually in danger?

N I am actually safe, physically safe, I am okay, Right? And then I can calm down. I am actually not good enough. No, I am good enough at what I do, okay, I can calm that fear, Right? Or do I need to develop some new skills? Maybe I am not good enough, maybe I need to develop some skills to be better at my job, right? 

Or. Maybe I need to set better boundaries. I need to be more assertive and acknowledge my own wins and strengths and resources more, right. I feel like I'm not good enough but I actually am. Do I need to change my perspective?

 I feel like I'm not good enough, and actually, I am not good enough, then I can develop some new skills. When we get beneath the surface emotions of, you know, “hate” in this example. We often open up a huge set of Options, ways that we can change our lives and resolve our painful emotions. 

When we stick with secondary emotions were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and not even know where it's coming from. 

Anger is one of the most common secondary emotions. Because people especially boys have been taught that it's not okay to cry, or to be sad, or to be Vulnerable.

 Anger is the most convenient, emotion to cover up those feelings. So, what looks like anger on the surface is a protective cover for more sensitive feelings like hurt, fear, embarrassment, worry, or sadness.

 Shame is one of the other most common secondary emotions, especially among women. If you're not allowed to be angry at others, it’s easy you avoid or cover-up that anger by blaming yourself for your flaws.

 It's easy to see how both of these emotions anger and shame are harmful in our lives and in our relationships, But with a little consideration, it’s easy to see how more comfortable feel than that underlying real emotion, or at least they're more comfortable in the short term?

It’s way more comfortable to be angry at a dumb test or angry at your boss than it is to feel guilty about studying, you know, guilt asks, you to work harder at studying. 

So let's explore the difference between primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are instinctive they’re natural. They can be inherently good or functional, but when reacted to they can also be harmful. 

Secondary emotions are learned protective, defensive, and avoidant, they're more controlled. Primary emotions feel they can be painful, pleasurable, sensitive, and vulnerable. 

Secondary emotions attempt to control or numb emotions without listening to what the emotions are you know. Emotions often are asking a question or teaching, or helping us in some way. Primary emotions are more instinctual, more intuitive, and more reactionary. 

Secondary emotions tend to come from learning. So, for example, things. Like, or I shouldn't cry now, or I shouldn’t be mad. So this thinking process can help us slow down and process through problems without being reactive. 

But our thinking processes are also a little too good at suppressing emotions in a way that can sometimes be harmful. Primary emotions, keep us connected with others and they can help guide our actions. 

Secondary emotions require a certain amount of numbing and they disconnect us from our goals and our values and they disconnect us from people.

Now don’t get me wrong, you know, I am not saying that we just blindly act on all of our deep impulses, I do believe that we have some emotions that are quite natural, and some quite harmful emotions.

I am saying that we should be intentional. We should know what we are feeling, we should explore why we are feeling it, and we should choose what we want to do about it. If we just act on our secondary emotions, we might not be able to solve, any problems. We’ll just spin our wheels, right? 

Secondary emotions are not a form of self-control; they are just another way of being reactive. This is because secondary emotions do not take time to notice or explore the emotion; they just want it to go away at any cost. 

They keep us from knowing what we’re ’really feeling. Check out this clip from   Goodwill hunting will was terribly abused and now you know he's a genius with anger issues, getting into trouble with the law. And in this scene, his therapist is trying to convince him that the abuse is not his fault,

Will initially responded to his therapist with anger, with defensiveness, but when he softened he began to heal.  When we act out on secondary emotions, we tend to attack, criticize, demand, blame. This leads to constant problems like bad relationships, loneliness, more stress, and addiction. 

It pushes others away and it makes it seem impossible to solve the problems. When, when we choose to be willing to feel our sensitive emotions, we're more likely to build connections with others and solve our problems. 

Really, this kick starts the positive cycle of feeling more calm, happy, peaceful, and loved, and that's why vulnerability is a superpower.

 People who can learn to be vulnerable to feel those tender emotions have better jobs, better relationships and they tend to be happier. 

So, the next time you're feeling wrapped up in an intense emotion take a deep breath pause, be willing to feel it, and then explore, you know, is there something underneath this emotion?

If there's something more sensitive and mindful make room for that feeling and explore what it has to teach. Here are some examples, jealousy, blames others for doing well protecting you from the responsibility of trying hard, but it means you are feeling bitter.

Resentment protects you from connection and the risk of being hurt but it leaves you lonely. Blame protects you from responsibility, from guilt, but leaves you feeling helpless. Hopelessness protects you from having to keep trying but leaves you depressed.

 When we react to our emotions or avoid them. When our only tool is to say, I feel bad and I don't like it. We don't give ourselves very many options to solve problems or resolve emotions.

We are more likely to find a resolution to our problems and our emotions when we look deeper than the surface and this is where your skills of noticing and naming emotions, not judging, or avoiding them, and being willing, to feel them, really start to come into play.

 So you moved from the foundational level to the action level of this course. Being curious about your emotions opens up the possibility of change. So start by asking yourself. What am I feeling? Allow yourself to wonder where this emotion is coming from? How did I come to feel this way?

Is there's something more sensitive underneath?  Now, this can be really hard to do in a moment of intense emotion. So it's a good idea to practice this after the fact in writing.

 So check out the workbook activities to identify and act on primary instead of secondary emotions. 

You can't always believe everything you feel. Sometimes strong emotions are actually covering up, what you're really feeling. You can gain much better, emotional control, if you learn to identify the feelings under your feelings.

So the next time you're feeling wrapped up in intense emotion, take a deep breath pause and then explore. You know Is there something underneath this emotion, is there’s something more sensitive down there. Mindfully make room for that feeling and explore what it has to teach you. 

In the next couple of sections, I'm going to teach you some skills to slow yourself down and calm yourself down so that you can process your emotions. Thank you for watching and see you soon.

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