An Open Letter to my Registered Subscribers

Blog Registration:

I recently adjusted my blog so that only those who register can leave a comment. Many of you have chosen to register and I thank you for your support.

Your Email Address:

I want you to know what happens to the email address you provide when you register.

The short answer is nothing.

I do not like spam and I assume that you do not either. While I could be wrong, it is entirely possible that you gave your email address because it is required in order to register and be able to leave a comment and NOT because you wanted another source of email notifications in your inbox.

Based on this assumption, you will not be receiving emails from me.

Communicating with me:

I DO, HOWEVER, WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU ABOUT HOW I CAN MAKE THIS BLOG BETTER FOR YOU!

So, as a registered reader, please leave a comment on the blog or feel free to contact me via email. My email address is TheEmotionsDoctor (at) gmail.com. 

Note ==> Put “TED” in the subject line. 

I, personally, read all comments and TED related emails.

New Posts:

I post a new article every other Wednesday because I want to educate my readers about emotions and about relationships.

So, visit the site (at least) every other Wednesday for a new post and leave a comment if you choose. (Liked the article because…Didn’t like the article because… Want more information about…)

Finally-A Reminder about the “Index Tab” to help you access earlier posts:

Remember to click on the “Index Tab” in the upper right hand corner of the home page. I have upgraded the index to list posts by Topic, Title and Date to help you more easily access any article that interests you.

Again, thanks for your support and continued involvement with my blog.

Ed Daube, Ph.D. The Emotions Doctor.

Happy New Year 2019

To you, my readers:

I would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2019.

In submitting my posts on his blog, My intent is that your life and your relationships have been improved by the knowledge that you can master your emotions as tools.

I hope that you will continue to use the suggestions I make rather than just consume them (as most people do).

With this in mind, let me reemphasize that I welcome all of your comments and questions.

If you would like me to address an issue related to understanding what emotions are or how to use them as tools, please take a moment to leave me a comment on the blog.  I read every comment because I want to eliminate spam (there is a lot of it) and respond to all legitimate comments.

So, for 2019, help me help you by leaving your comments.

My only disclaimer is that I can only respond in general terms and, while I will make every effort to answer your questions as completely as I can, I don’t do therapy over the internet so my comment may not completely address your issue.

But, I will do my best.

With that said, I look forward to 2019 and I hope you do to.

All the best.

The Emotional Trap of Social Comparison

Do you ever compare yourself to another person?

More likely than not, the answer is yes.

I know this because we have all done it at one point or another.

While there can be adaptive, or benefical, outcomes from social comparison, it is far more likely that comparing yourself to another person will prove to be an emotional trap.

First, the upside..

If you use your comparison as a guide to help you improve yourself, than the emotions you will feel are excitement and anticipation. You will be excited about developing a new dream or discovering a new skill or outlook that you can emulate to improve yourself in some way and you will be looking forward with anticipation to a future in which you have made the changes you have discovered.

In this process, knowing what you want to achieve, accomplish, or become serves as motivation to go out and get the information you need, acquire new skill sets, make new connections or develop a new outlook.

Now, the downside.  Or, the trap…

You compare yourself unfavorably to another person and you feel inferior, inadequate, or worthless, you could become anxious or depressed.

The trap is that when you compare yourself to someone who is richer, more skillful, better looking (or whatever characteristic you choose), you will always come out feeling inadequate.

This is a false comparison.

I did not say that you were inadequate.  You feel inadequate.

Now, suppose you choose to compare yourself to someone who is less skillful, financially successful, etc.  You look great in comparison and may feel superior.  However, this, too, is a false comparison as it says nothing about your own skills, financial situation, physical characteristics, etc.

Social comparison can be a trap because it appears to give you relevant information about yourself but only leads to a false feeling of inadequacy or superiority.

In fact, you are neither inferior or superior.  You are only you.

Let me give you an example.

When I was a psychology intern, I compared myself both to other interns who seemed more adept at engaging the client and starting a healthy therapeutic alliance.  This was not a skill I was good at.  I also compared myself to one of the supervising psychologists who was very adept at reading the tone of a therapy group and who seemed to be able, with relative ease, to decide on the best intervention to move the group forward.

Neither of these comparisons were “fair” when I made them.

Based on my comparisons, I decided (wrongly, yes, but this was my interpretation at the time) that I was not very good at doing therapy.

It was only after I started my career and had to engage my clients in therapy that my confidence grew and my skill sets improved.

In fact, I was “surprised” one day when I intuitively orchestrated a very successful intervention.  I say I was surprised because, when I thought about it, I realized that what I had done was as good or better than the Supervisor I had earlier compared myself to.   It just took me some time to develop the necessary experience and skills.

The insidious nature of social comparison can lead to depression if the comparison involves a characteristic which is both very important to you and difficult to change.

The message of depression is that you see yourself as hopeless, helpless, worthless, or some combination of these three.

If the characteristic is sufficiently important and you do not measure up, you may perceive yourself as worthless.  If change is sufficiently difficult than your perception of yourself as helpless and hopeless may grow in strength.

Social Media, today, has been widely criticized because of the tendency of others to use it as a model for making comparisons.  Young people have attempted or commuted suicide because they do not see themselves as measuring up.

While they fail to see many issues, it never occurs to these adolescents that whether they measure up or not to the social media exemplar does not reflect on themselves and secondly, that the picture painted by the social media post may not even be accurate.

If you are feeling anxious, inadequate or that you do not measure up to your own, or society’s standards,  you might try to alleviate these feelings by choosing to compare yourself to someone who is not as well off as you or who is not your “equal” in whatever category you are using to measure.

You may say something like, “Well, I’m not doing so bad, look at _____.?” or “Well, I’m a better (xyz) than _____.”

The issue here is that, while this comparison may bring you some temporary relief, it does nothing to motivate you to change.  Over time, you will once again feel inadequate, inferior, or lacking.

The type of comparison is a trap because it creates a cycle of feeling inadequate, artificially pumping yourself up with a downward comparison, and feeling inadequate again.

A healthier approach would be to master your anxiety and objectively (either by yourself, if you can, or seeking input from others) look at the comparisons you are making and the standards you are implicitly accepting as your own.

  • Do these standards tell you something about yourself that both needs changing and that you can change?
  • Are the standards you are saying you need to live up to artificial, based on someone else’s distorted view of the world, or impossible to meet?

The answers to these questions will tell you whether your anxiety is informing you of actions you need to plan for and implement or whether their really is no impending threat about which you need to stress and you can choose to ignore the standards facing you as inappropriate, unrealistic, or unimportant.

I welcome your comments.

Announcing a new and improved Index!

To my Readers:

In order to make it easier for you to access the valuable information on this blog that is most relevant to you, I have revised the Index so that it now reflects specific topics.

These are the topic headings:

Using Emotions as Tools (including facts you didn’t know, your emotional toolkit, and more)

Anger (including anger mastery, you as a target of other’s anger, and more)

Other Emotions (fear, anxiety, empathy, regret, jealousy, regret, stress, and more)

Relationships and Emotions (conflict resolution, empathy, living in an emotional world, and more.)

Words and Emotions (you cannot not communicate, what vs why, atomic power of words, and more)

Here is HOW you can get to the article that interests you:

  • Go to the Index by clicking on the Index tab above.
  • Go the the Specific Topic.
  • Find the Article that addresses the information you want.
  • Note the Date of Publication.
  • Go to the Archives to the right of the page.
  • Click on the Date.
  • Scroll to the article.
  • Enjoy.

I write this blog for you.  Please let me know how I can improve it by sending me an email with “blog” in the subject line.

  • My email address is: TheEmotionsDoctor (at) gmail.com
  • Please be assured that I do not collect or share email addresses and I will never spam you.

To your continued learning…..

The Emotions Doctor

 

The Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are Mastering Their Anger. Are You Mastering Yours?

The recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland Florida is still fresh in our minds for at least two reasons.

The first reason is that the event was horrific, didn’t occur that long ago, and no other shooting has occurred which could grab our attention and replace the MSD shooting.

Other shootings have taken place, grabbed our attention, and then faded away.

The second reason is the impact that this event had on the students who lived through it and the response of those students to the event.

In the interest of transparency, I need to say that I own a gun, I believe in the 2nd amendment, I think the NRA has way too much influence, and I believe (along with a majority of Americans) that a compromise on gun control can be reached which both adds to the safety of Americans and protects the legitimate rights of Americans to own firearms if only Congress had the fortitude to get the job done.

This post, however, is not about gun control.

It is about mastering anger.

In my second Amazon best selling book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool,  I discuss what anger is, what emotional mastery is, and where the focus of anger management groups often fall short. I also include individual chapters designed to help the reader understand and master their anger. You can download the first two chapters of my book with no opt-in from my blog TheEmotionsDoctor.com

Anger is one of 6 primary emotions (mad, sad, glad, fear, disgust and surprise).

Four of these primary emotions are threat detectors just like the smoke detector in your house. The primary threat detectors alert us to an impending threat (This is the message of the emotion.) and help us stay alive by preparing our bodies to take action regarding that threat.

Emotions can be understood as tools and each tool has a specific function for which it was designed…

  • Your smoke detector alerts you to an impending fire.
  • Your TV remote enables you to wirelessly control, program, and interact with your TV, your Blueray player, and so forth.
  • Your cell phone…

Well, you get the idea.

Anger is a primary threat detector. The message of anger is that we perceive a threat we believe we can eliminate. Anger energizes us to go to war.

By contrast, fear, as a primary threat detector, alerts us to a threat which will “terminate” us and prepares us to escape (flee) or freeze in place.

Very few tools are so self-evident that they do not require a learning curve to master them and get the most out of them.

While this may be obvious with the cell phone, your computer, and the remote, think about the last time your smoke detector went off in the middle of the night alerting you to a weak battery or you burnt some toast and you nearly broke the detector because you weren’t sure how to turn the damn thing off.

Emotions are the same way. They are just just tools which we need to learn to master in order to strategically use them to improve your life.

So, back to the MSD teens.

These teens felt helplessness and vulnerability during and following the event.

The feelings of helplessness and vulnerability are easy to understand just by thinking about what the MSD students experienced.

The MSD teens then transformed the feelings of vulnerability and helplessness into anger.

Up to this point, the MSD shooting is no different from the Vegas shooting, Columbine or any other of the numerous shootings which we have seen on the news, felt vulnerable concerning, and angry about.

For the most part, however, the anger in these other shootings just sort of faded away and was not mastered.

And, nothing changed.

The difference with the MSD shooting and the reason it is still holding our attention is that the “victims” stopped feeling victimized and mastered their anger.

Anger mastery involves assessing the validity of both the anger and the perceived threat and then using the energy anger provides to take effective action to nullify a valid threat.

The MSD teens clearly realized that the threat from guns was valid and decided to go to war to deal with the threat. They then made a plan to facilitate their battle and executed their plan. This plan was critical if they wanted their message to be heard.

This is anger mastery.

They have come forward and appeared on both public and pay (Netflix) TV. They articulately discussed both the impact the event had on them, the feelings the event elicited (not caused) in them and their proposed solutions. They have mobilized public support, publicly taken their concerns and the solutions they are recommending to lawmakers, and organized public events.

They have raised public awareness and it appears that they won’t stop until corrective action has taken place.

You can see the anger in their voices as they speak and their anger continues to motivate them. We have already seen an impact in Florida where some changes have been made in the law.

This is the heart of anger mastery. How you feel about the MSD teens and gun control is not the issue here.

If you have ever experienced anger and either done something you later regretted or done nothing, you have not mastered your anger.

You now have the choice the next time you experience anger.

Accept the message of anger as valid. Your anger is always valid though the perception of threat may or may not be valid.

Then use your anger as an opportunity to assess the situation in which you find yourself.

If your anger accurately reflects a threat that requires an intervention, then take some time to determine the best and most effective action to take, make a plan, and use the energy your anger provides to implement the plan you have devised.

If you decide that you have misunderstood your situation or “created” the threat by some action you have taken, then you can choose a different course of action and the anger will dissipate.

This is mastering your anger.

I welcome your comments and if you think this blog could benefit someone else, please send them the link.

 

My 100th post, the INDEX, two (no opt-in) downloads, and a very interesting question from a reader.

It is the “end” of the year. How will you approach it?

Today is December 27.

The New Year is 4 days away.

You still have time to decide how will you handle 2018.

I am not talking here about how you will  bring in the New Year.  You may choose to go out and party, stay at home with your significant others, or watch the “ball” drop at midnight and go to bed.

What I am talking about is how you will approach the New Year emotionally.

There are many options:

  • Will you think back on 2017 and nostalgically reflect on all you have accomplished?
  • Will you get depressed because of all the things you didn’t get done that you wanted to accomplish?
  • Will you be anxious because you can’t predict what will happen in 2018?
  • Will you feel sad because of what, or who, you lost?
  • Or will you feel despair because you dread what may happen in 2018?

As The Emotions Doctor, my suggestion for you involves three steps each of which comes from the emotional process I have discussed in many of my earlier posts:

  1. take some time to think about what you are feeling,
  2. validate the feeling
  3. make a decision about how you want to approach 2018 and what you want to feel.

It is important to note that your feelings reflect how you view your “world”.

Your perception of the world is always under your control.

Because of this, you can choose how you want to feel about the future (2018).

Yes, it is true that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the world today and going forward into 2018.

If you choose to focus on this uncertainty and your inability to control global events, you will feel anxiety as distress.  This can lead to depression.

If you choose to acknowledge the uncertainty but focus your attention of what you can influence, then you might experience the flipside of anxiety which is anticipation.

You can set some goals if you wish (and this is a good idea if the goals are believable, backed up by a plan and measurable).

Or, you can make some new year’s resolutions which is probably not a good idea as you most likely will not remember them 3 days into the New Year.

However, you choose to go into 2018, I hope you will continue to come to this site, read my posts and leave a comment. Also, be sure to check out the index as there may be a previous post which addresses a question you might have about emotions.

I wish you all the best in 2018 and let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year.

 

A comprehensive video overview of emotions and emotions theories

I am including this video from YouTube’s Crash Course on Psychology for any of you who might want more indepth information on what emotions are and the psychological theories which attempt to explain them.

Full disclosure:  This is a 10 minute and 50 second video. While the information is quite good, it is somewhat long.  So, if you aren’t really interested in diving this deep into emotions and emotions theory, skip this post and we’ll see you next week.