There are many temptations to organize our life around the experience of earlier trauma. But that may short-change the future—which starts by our envisioning something better.
Verified by Psychology Today
Cleaning up emotional pollution
Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
Some information available in books and online is actually helpful. Some is not, and some may make things worse.
The cynically depressed won’t admit to being depressed but will readily admit to being resentful; that sounds like their bad feelings are someone else’s fault.
Through no fault of their own, many people suffer disabling inhibitions that stifle their natural motivation to be compassionate. They cannot heal old hurts.
Discussions turn into arguments when disagreement seems like a loss of status or a threat to one's ego.
As long as contempt persists, any positive behavior change by one partner will seem like too little, too late.
Once resentment becomes part of an automatic defense system, resolving “issues” gives only the most temporary relief, before the resentment attaches to other behaviors.
Human interactions that stir any emotion can go terribly wrong when we’re insensitive to their shadow workings.
For the intellectually honest, doubt is an invaluable asset that stimulates interest and motivates learning.
When we act on the emotions that make us feel vulnerable—such as guilt, shame, fear, sadness, and grief—they’re self-correcting.
Unregulated emotional reactivity can turn us into what we despise.
In an ambiguous world, we're rather feel certain than be right.
Remorse is the hidden engine of the well-known cycle of abuse, often giving false hope to victims.
Once resentment or anger become part of a person’s defense system, focusing on specifics that trigger resentful or angry response will yield only temporary improvement at best.
When relationships run on autopilot, everyone feels taken for granted, if not invisible or unheard.
To ensure well-being, these four attitudes must become behavioral habits.
The aspect of emotional reactivity that makes it difficult to see, let alone change, is its illusion of free will.
We can regulate emotions by changing perceptions of self and/or other people.
Negative labels have become little more than stereotypes and slurs for people who don’t validate those who use them.
The way most people cope with anxiety further magnifies the worst effects of stress. They blame it on someone.
Resentment and anger in love relationships are unlike the variations of those emotions in other social contexts.
The single most empowering behavior is fidelity to your deepest, most humane values.
Once anger and resentment become part of an automatic defensive system, they cannot be overcome with a focus on what triggers anger/resentment.
Once the acute pain of depression ameliorates, many experience a hollow feeling that traps them in the outer shadows of depression.
Accountability, like fairness, is a standard to which we rigidly hold other people.
We’ve lost touch with the internal message of emotions to be true to personal values and beliefs, which makes us easy prey for cultural manipulation.
The conflicts fostered by social media are more temperamental than factual.
“Revisionist history,” in reference to individuals, is synonymous with “memory.”
The internet has taken the dark practice of bullying to new dimensions, making it ubiquitous and inescapable.
In the experience of negative emotions, most thought processes work to justify our feelings rather than to test the reality of our assumptions.
When abusers feel disappointed, sad, guilty, ashamed, anxious, or unlovable, they automatically blame partners or children.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., treats people for anger and relationship problems. His recent books include How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It and Love Without Hurt.