This week we started the emotional regulation module and I am so excited. If there is one thing I want to learn more about, its being able to regulate my emotions. The first lesson is to look at the myths we carry around about emotions, the things we believe to be true about emotions even it they are not. Like the myth that there are good emotions and there are bad emotions. While that may seem true in that some emotions make us feel bad, all emotions have a purpose and even “bad” emotions can be good if they prompt us to positive action.
Well, I carry around quite a few of these myths, so I feel this exercise will be very benifical to me. So I grabbed my worksheet and a pen. But if you know me, you also know I can never do something unless I make it my own somehow. So I switched to the computer and re-wrote some of the myths on the worksheet to sound more like they do in my own head. After all, these are my own personal myths, it’s important I make them my own.
My most common myths are:
I shouldn’t feel this way, its wrong. Or… I shouldn’t feel this way, it’s not normal.
Challenge statement: Everyone has emotions. Having an emotional response to something isn’t wrong or abnormal. In fact, it’s normal to feel emotions and healthy to express them.
Being emotional is weak. If I was stronger I wouldn’t be this emotional.
Challenge statement: Everyone gets emotional sometimes. Emotions are a normal part of being human and allowing yourself to feel them is a healthy way to cope with life. Being able to accept and learn from your emotions is a strength, not a weakness.
I can’t control my emotions.
Challenge statement: I may not be able to control my emotions, but I can control how I react to my emotions. I can also control my behavior. I can also control how long I cling to my emotions, and can learn to replace the negative thoughts my emotions sometimes prompt with more positive ones.
When I am emotional, I am out of control.
Challenge statement: Losing control of myself when I get emotional is something I can change. I am learning the skills I need to remain in control of my behavior, even when I am having a strong emotional response to something.
I shouldn’t feel this way, it’s stupid.
Challenge statement: Emotions are a normal part of being human. If I’m feeling angry, sad, happy, or any emotion for that matter, there is a reason I am feeling that way, even if I can’t tell what it is right now. My emotions are not stupid.
No one understands or cares how I feel. My emotions are different the everyone elses.
Challenge statement: Other people feel the same emotions as I do. They may not understand the intensity or duration of the emotion, they DO understand how the emotion feels. And even if they don’t understand why I am being emotional, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about me or empathize with me.
Letting other people know how I feel is bad. If they know how I feel they won’t like or respect me.
Challenge statement: Expressing my emotions to others can be scary, but it can also be a healthy part of a relationship. Expressing my emotions clearly and calmly could also bring a deeper level of understanding between myself and the people I care about. My true friends will still like and respect me no matter what.
As you can see, my myths are filled with all or nothing thinking and judgments. Most of these were my Mom’s beliefs, which eventually became my own. I don’t need to believe them however. I can choose to change them. The trouble is, I’ve lived with them for so long and internalized them so much they have become part of my core beliefs. So it will take me a while to unravel them all. But it will be worth it.
Each one of us has emotions, BPD or not. And every one of us carries around at least a few myths about them. So, what are your myths? How would you challenge them? How would you re-write your myths in your heart and in your mind? It’s a good exercise for everyone, you’ll be surprised what you discover.