The psychology of emotions

The psychology of emotions

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Many people are controlled by their emotions, whether they realize it or not. Emotions have of course a function, but all too often we think that emotions are telling us the truth about ourselves and the world. So it is not. Emotions can trigger thoughts that further influence our actions. Sudden impulses and unpredictable emotions can thus have far too much influence; if we do not rally acknowledge that we are not our emotions.

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Fear in the face of danger is of course a normal reaction. But when we react with fear in situations that are not really dangerous, we sometimes call it anxiety. Phobia is another word for misplaced fear. There are many different phobias, but the theory that will be explored in this article suggests that each phobia is a combination of five underlying fears.

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When you recall the past, the resident memories carry the emotional content of the moment. A tremendous exercise in control is required to isolate the event from the emotion. Some are trapped in the past in a way that previous trauma prevents personal growth and development, but when all is said and done, we can to some extent affect the way we interpret our past and then be the author of our future. We must accept the painful memories as part of our personal history, and then make sure the bad memories do not prevent us from living here and now. This is sometimes a difficult task.

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Vera was neglected as a child. She grew up, married and had to kids. In her marriage she behaves badly, as if she would like to be abandoned and disliked so the story of her past can repeat itself. To change her life, Vera has to forgive the past, and then she has to forgive herself before she can reinvent her life. Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting, nor does it mean that you've given the message that what someone did was okay. It just means that you've let go of the anger or guilt towards someone, or towards yourself.

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The trouble with viewing oneself to be a victim is that it allows the ‘victim’ to carry out any wrongdoings or hurt others and not see the effect or own responsibility for their actions.

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Juliet struggles with aggression and low self-esteem, which probably relates to her difficult childhood. An overly involved mother and the use of corporal punishment has left Juliet with emotional trauma. How can she manage her anger problems?