When we think about negative and positive of different emotions , we can consider how intense a particular emotion is or how long it lasts.. If we just see an emotion as either ‘on’ ‘off’ then we are faced with a basic choice of either continuing to have it , or trying to get rid of it. When the emotion is unpleasant , our tendency is to want to get rid of it. However, if we instead think of emotions as being on a sliding scale, rather like a volume control from ‘ very mild ‘ at I out of 100 , to ‘ extreme’ at 100 out of 100 , then we have some other choices. We may find that we can endure a certain level of the emotion.
One reason why it is useful to think about our emotions as being on a sliding scale is that it is very hard to get rid of an emotion completely and the harder we try the greater the impact on other parts of our lives.
For example, someone who feels anxious around other people may avoid every kind of situation that might involve being around others because they think it will make them anxious.
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This makes them increasingly isolated. They also don’t find out that they can manage to see certain people close to them without the anxiety being overwhelming . Some people use alcohol , drugs or medication to try to numb or get rid of their feelings, and this can make things worse , too.
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Another reason to think about emotions being on a sliding scale is that there are usually advantages to having some level of a particular feeling.
Foe example, feeling a little excited might give you the motivation you need to get up in the morning and see people. It might only be extreme levels of excitement that you need to be concerned about, especially if they don’t go down. Similarly, some level of fear keeps us alert to real dangers in the world; only extreme levels compromise our ability to think logically .
By thinking about emotions in the way , you can learn to experience the range of different feelings t6hat you need in your life.