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  • Emotions as guides.

    Emotions are important! As problematic as they might become, we need our emotions in order to survive and build a life that we find worth living. Each emotion comes with a set of “action urges” that tell us what we need to do differently to feel safer, more at ease, happier, or whatever it is on the other side of the action urge. Sometimes, the emotion may prompt us to engage in a behavior that is not helpful or takes us further from a fully-embraced life due to fear or struggles in maintaining healthy connection with others, among many other reasons.

    Let’s look at anxiety more in depth. Anxiety serves an incredibly valuable function – it keeps us safe! But what might start as a healthy fear, possibly being worried about performing well at work and channeling that into additional education, could turn into paralyzing imposter syndrome that gets in our way of doing our work at all. So, what can we do to ensure our emotions are reacting effectively to our environment? Just start asking yourself questions!

    Why is this emotion here?

    What is this emotion assuming or interpreting?

    What is the perceived threat/catastrophe and could I realistically handle it?

    Would acting on this emotion benefit me long-term?

    Our emotions have the best of intentions, but sometimes they are not based on our reality and instead live on assumptions or interpretations of events that have no basis in real life. Learning to embrace your emotions as guides rather than fact can help you feel far more in control of your world. If this isn’t something you feel you can do on your own, that’s ok! Therapists are trained in helping people utilize their emotions to better understand themselves and the world they live in. Reaching out for help from a therapist to work on your emotion regulation is just like reaching out to a doctor to work on a body illness – there is no shame in needing help in this area. It takes a lot of strength to reach out for help. You can do it!