Mixed Feelings? That’s Entirely Natural
We sometimes have experiences where we feel more than one emotion. In these situations of mixed feelings, we can get confused by our responses, unsure about what we are feeling and even if we are going crazy. How can we better understand our experiences of multiple emotions?
Multiple emotions and mixed feelings
We can experience multiple emotions quite often. This is the experience we sometimes called ‘mixed feelings'. For example, after a near miss in a car, we might experience a mixture of relief and anxiety. Or, with an intimate partner, we might feel both love and frustration at the same time. Or, when a loved one is rushed to hospital but then is released soon after, we may find ourselves experiencing grief and elation together.
These multiple emotions can be confusing for us. We can perhaps feel that one of these emotions is right for us, but the other one doesn't seem to fit the circumstances or, we might identify with one emotion and reject the other. For instance, if we have mixed feelings about starting to get close to another person, and we have mixed feelings about whether we like them or not, we might emphasise one of these emotions and downplay the other one.
Emotions don't cancel each other out
Further, we tend to believe that emotions cancel each other out. If you fear something bad happening and it doesn't actually happen, we can believe that the relief will cancel out the fear. In reality, what happens is we experience both emotions.
It's also important to understand that there are differences between moods and emotions. A mood is generally a longer term experience, whereas emotions are usually quite short lived.
How to cope with multiple emotions
What would really help us is a way to deal with multiple emotions. There are some steps we can follow to do this.
- Realise that it's possible to have multiple emotions at once. If you can realise this, then you won't be so surprised when it happens,
- Allow yourself to experience these emotions in their complexity including their physical manifestations, without trying to escape them,
- Try to work it out what it is that you feel, and give a name to these emotions,
- Acknowledge the emotions, and see if you can work out how they fit together.
This is a far more effective way to deal with multiple emotions than just dealing with the dominant emotion.
Counselling is a place where people can explore the more complex emotions we have, including multiple emotions. If you feel I can help you with this, please make contact. I do individual and couples counselling in Richmond and Sunbury.
Let me know in the comments if you find this interesting. Now read about our unconscious and making sense of the hidden.