There are two different kinds of emotions: primary and secondary. Primary emotions are those that you experience in response to an event. For example, you feel grief when someone dies or you feel happy when you go out with a group of friends and enjoy yourself.
On the other hand, secondary emotions are the emotions you experience in response to other emotions—how you feel about the way you feel. For example, you may not like to feel angry, and so you have a secondary emotion about anger. You may feel angry at yourself for feeling angry or you may feel guilt, anxiety, or sadness for feeling angry.
What this means is you either judge the emotion or you judge your self for having it—and this results in even more emotions when you invalidate your self for having primary emotions, you generate secondary ones.
It is these secondary emotions that often cause us the most distress. If it were just the primary emotion on its own, we could deal with it. But when the secondary emotion arises, that’s when our emotions can become overwhelming.
- I shouldn’t feel this way.
- There is no reason to be sad.
- It’s stupid to worry about this.
- I need to stop feeling so upset.
- Why can’t I just get over this?
So how do you validate? Validating your emotions basically just means giving yourself permission to have them. It doesn’t mean you like to feel that way or that you don’t want the feeling to change. It simply means acknowledging the presence of the emotion and allowing yourself to have it. It is being nonjudgmental with your emotions.
For more information about how I can help you learn to deal with your emotions, or to make an appointment for counselling or therapy, please call me at 226-500-4086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.