The Behaviour Trap
I often get asked the question – “how can I control my feelings?”. It’s a sign that the person is in an uncomfortable time of their life, where they wish that one particular feeling would reduce or even entirely disappear. I think my response – about the behaviour trap – often surprises them.
Feelings and behaviour
When we explore the problem, I sometimes hear that it is because when they get angry they become verbally or sometimes physically hurtful and damaging, or that when they get fearful they find that they find it hard to function well. Or being sad means that they find it hard to get out into the world. In this way, we often discover that we are actually talking about behaviours, not feelings.
It's about problematic bahviours
For many people, this is an automatic process – “I feel these strong feelings, then I start to behave in this way”. When seen this way, the feelings seem the problem as they seem to inevitably lead to the behaviours that cause so much difficulty in people’s lives. But what if this link wasn’t inevitable?
When you come to a see psychotherapist, he or she will work with you to try and understand the link between your feelings and your behaviours, so that you can start to have more conscious choice about what happens when you feel strong feelings. Part of this process is to help you begin to deal with the seemingly unbearable nature of your feelings so that they are actually capable of being borne. It’s a gradual process that takes time, but one where you can hope to manage your feelings and what you do, and ultimately get on top of things.
– Tim Hill
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