In difficult times we often find ourselves falling back on a single, dominant emotion, even if another might be “more logical”. For example, your default emotion may be fear, which you will feel during stressful times, although a more appropriate emotional response might be anger, sadness, or frustration.
That is your dominant emotional style, said Alice Boyes, Ph.D., Author of the book “The Healthy Mind Toolkit, “in one new article she wrote for Psychology Today. In times of stress, a “dominant emotion” is the emotion we are exposed to by default and is often related to how we interpret and respond to situations. To return to the fear example, your reaction may be due to a tendency to blame yourself for situations; If your dominant emotion is anger, it may be due to the assumption that others are trying to hurt you.
Why it is important to be able to feel a range of emotions
We stick to our dominant emotion because we know that and are most familiar with each other. However, being able to experience a range of emotions is important as this is often the key to a healthier and happier life.
One way to think about emotions is to look at all of the different emotions as beings Part of a balanced ecosystem. There are many different components within an ecosystem, all of which are important for a healthy system. However, when this balance is disturbed and an emotion becomes strongly dominant, the overall health of the system becomes unbalanced.
As studies show, people who experience a wide range of emotions tend to better mental and physical health, which includes lower rates of depression. One possible reason is that a mixture of emotions, even if they are negative, can help prevent a single emotion from getting completely out of hand.
Two ways to reduce your dominant emotion
Feeling too much of an emotion is exhausting and can burn you out. According to Boyes, there are two ways that can help you withdraw from your dominant emotions.
The first way is to think through other possible interpretations of the situation. As Boyes notes, her dominant emotion is fear, for which she usually blames herself. However, as she slows down and assesses the situation and tries to think through other reasons for what happened, her other emotions can surface.
The second option is to focus on the calmer feelings that have been drowned out by your dominant emotion. “When I tune in to my smaller emotions, they come to the surface more.” Boyes wrote. These other feelings can help you find different solutions to your problem while also helping you have a more balanced perspective.
As Boyes points out, these strategies for reducing your dominant emotions can have many positive benefits. This includes feeling relieved, increasing your creativity, finding new ways to solve problems, and motivating you to try alternative approaches that you might not otherwise think of.
As Boyes noted, when it comes to feeling these other emotions, “It’s okay if feeling your nondominant emotions unsettles you and maybe leaves you a little at sea. You can feel insecure and still benefit. ”