Hey everybody, Happy Monday. A few weeks ago, I released a video expressing my own upset about the Coronavirus and my difficulty dealing with it. And in that video, I mentioned that the anger a lot of us are feeling during this time is actually a secondary emotion. And oh boy, so many of you wanted me to talk more about that. So here I am going to explain what secondary emotions are, why they're helpful and important, and what we can do with them.
Secondary emotions are the emotional responses we have as a result of another emotion. They occur because we have judgments or beliefs about certain emotions and what's okay or not okay to feel, for example, if we feel worried or anxious about something, but we're embarrassed or ashamed that we even feel that way.
Our primary emotions would be worried or anxious. And our secondary emotions would be, you guessed it, shame or embarrassment.
Now, secondary emotions can be protective, we may not feel safe, showing how sad or upset we are, you know, when like a certain situation maybe at work or something. And so we act out in anger, to push people away. And to ensure that we don't feel too vulnerable, they don't like see us for how we really feel and what's going on. So just for clarity, in that example, sadness would be our primary emotion and anger would be secondary. But you can see how presenting with a more aggressive emotion can protect us from having our true feelings of hurt or upset, exposed. The root of secondary emotions is in our judgment or beliefs about our primary emotions. So often I hear how anger or hurt aren't okay to feel many of you, as well as my patients tell me that a certain emotion feels scary, or out of control, meaning that we aren't giving ourselves permission to feel it. Instead, we stuffed it down and let the secondary emotion lead the way which can harm ourselves and our relationships. Not to mention that we're expressing something that we don't truly feel right, that secondary emotion isn't what we're actually feeling, which is kind of mind blowing to me.
And it makes me wonder if that's why it can be hard to explain why we feel how we feel. We may not even know, because what we think we feel isn't really it. Does that make sense? I hope so. But when I was reading about this and preparing this video, it just kind of blew my mind. It made me think about that. And I was like, Oh my God.
But overall, secondary emotions aren't often helpful. And they detract from what we really feel. Therefore, we don't want them in our life all the time. Sure they have their place in specific situations.
But it would be best for example, if I'm able to recognize that I'm feeling worried, and instead of lashing out at Shawn and anger, I let him know that I'm worried and hopefully received the support that I really need, you know. And so what do we do? Well, since secondary emotions are born out of our own beliefs about certain emotions, we're going to have to recognize what those beliefs are.
And we can start doing that by using a feelings chart and tracking our feelings each and every day. And I know this can be hard and tedious. But let's try to come up with three to five things we feel each day. And since most of us are still working from home, and at home all the time, keeping a feelings chart out or bookmarking it on your computer or your phone can really help take a look at it in the morning, afternoon and evening and pick one that fits for each of those moments. You already got your three then poof. And so notice if you shy away from certain emotions, or as you read one, you automatically think Nope, not gonna feel that. Or maybe you already recognize that some of the feelings on the list aren't okay for you to feel. And just, you know, think about this because often we think it's okay for others to feel it, but just not for us. So make sure you're considering why it's okay or not okay for you personally.
As you track these, hopefully you're able to find some feeling words that make you uncomfortable, or one that you realize you never express or allow yourself to fully feel. And I know this can be hard, but stick with it. Because this will help us uncover some of the beliefs and judgments we have about certain emotional expressions. For me, anger or aggression. As an okay, I've always felt like it was out of control or in the times when I've expressed it. I then go on to regret it.
So in therapy, I've been trying to find healthy ways for me to feel angry and convey it without letting it hurt me or my relationships, which moves us into the second stage. And that is figuring out ways to express these uncomfortable or primary emotions, hopefully. And one way to do this is in therapy.
That's what makes therapy so great is the fact that your therapist knows what you're working on. And they can maybe help roleplay certain situations or ways that you want to express yourself, you can do it all in session where it's safe. And that's why I'm always telling you to try and talk things out with your therapist, like, let's say you didn't like something they did, or they forgot something important. It's great practice for our life outside of therapy to try to bring that up in therapy, speak up for ourselves, you know, be assertive. But anyways, back to the emotions, we can learn to express them through journaling. We knew it was coming conversations with people in our lives, or even through movement, like kicking a ball into a wall or going for a walk.
We can also create safe spaces for us to do this, like crying in the shower so that no one can hear us. And then we can have some privacy while we do it. We may have to get creative, but giving ourselves some time and space to feel these primary emotions will give us the evidence moving forward to prove that they aren't so scary, bad, or unhealthy, or whatever it is, we used to believe about them.
In a way we are building up our case against our own beliefs about them.
And sometimes in order to change a belief we have, we have to prove ourselves wrong through new actions and experiences. Another reason recognizing our primary emotions is important is because they are full of helpful information. They can tell us who we like and don't like what's triggering or upsetting to us, and what we need to do to cope with what we're feeling and so many other things. These emotions are not contaminated by our thoughts and beliefs. And they tell us what's truly going on. Tapping into them. Listening and feeling without judgment can take time. But trust me, it's worth it. And if we don't make the effort to do this, we can find ourselves coming up with unhealthy ways to cope.
The stuffing down of how we really feel is what I believe leads us to using drugs or alcohol, self injury and engaging in eating disorder behavior, you name it, all of those unhealthy coping skills we talked about, I believe kind of stemmed from this, because we don't know how to process what's going on inside our heads. So we choose to numb out.
And we can also find ourselves staying in unhealthy relationships or jobs or living situations because we aren't listening to our true feelings. So let's fight back and work to tap in. start tracking your feelings, find some healthy ways to express them. And trust me, once we are able to recognize the primary emotion, it won't feel so out of control or disconnected from what's going on. It will be easier to validate, understand and express.
So give it a try and let me know how it goes. Thank you so much for watching and as always, if you have any thoughts or tips that you think could help someone else, but you share those in the comments down below and I will see you next time. Bye