The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Emotions - How to Understand Them

I took my bedroom mirror down because I am so depressed.

(this is raw unedited text, computer transcribed directly from the audio, without voice inflection, pauses etc. Sometimes this results in the text implying the opposite of the intended meaning.)

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Here's a question I received from Carrie. . .

Hi, Dr. Kenner. What's wrong with me? Most of the time, I feel down and worthless. I even took the mirror off my bedroom wall because I can't even look at myself. Sometimes I'm easily irritated and annoyed for no reason at all. When my mom and I fight, I get so mad and I locked myself in my room, I turn off the lights, because I like it better that way. And then after my anger passes, I feel sad and I cry, then I feel so stupid for all the crying. I sometimes fantasize talking to someone else. I also tend to forget things most of the time, I swear, my memory is messed up. I don't even remember half of my childhood and my eighth to 15th birthdays. What can I do? Carry.

Carry, you need that sunshiny bedroom, you need that sunshiny world and how do you reach out to it when you feel like you're down in the dumps? You need a way to understand yourself. Many people carry go through life in their clueless about the cause of their emotion, their irritation, their profound sadness, their anger, they're feeling stupid. They don't know what to do with their emotions. The emotions just sit there like lumps, and they suffer. And you as you were doing, and you just feel like you're bounced between one lousy lump to another and you just feel lousy about yourself and you feel upset with your mother or other people.

So how do you understand your emotions? First, you need to know that you can understand them. And I will recommend books in a moment. You need to learn how to look inward at your own thoughts and images that are underlying your irritability or your sadness, or you're feeling stupid, or you're feeling irritable. You need to look at the thoughts and images underlying those moods. For example, when you're feeling angry with mom, you can tune in to what's going through your mind. I mean, we all hear ourselves, but I mean really to focus in on hearing the words. Anger is the emotion that we any of us experience when we're thinking that something's unfair. So you may be thinking, Why does mom pick on me? It's not fear, why doesn't she see the good in me? You can hear the anger in my voice, then it's very common, Carrie, to feel sad following those types of thoughts. Because sadness focuses not on the unfairness. It's not fair. But I'm experiencing an important loss. And what might that loss be? Well, the biggest loss that any of us can face is . . .

Hey, I gotta interrupt this because we've got to pay some bills. 30 seconds. That's it. A very quick break and then Ellen will be back.

Romance. Oh, I wish guys knew more about what we want from a relationship. Boy, I wish I knew more about what I want. Where's that ad I saw? Here it is The Selfish Path to Romance - a serious romance guidebook. Download chapter one for free at and buy it at Hmm, The Selfish Path to Romance. That - is - interesting.

Well, the biggest loss that any of us can face is our loss of self respect or loss of self esteem, and our loss of better relationships with those who are supposed to be in our inner circle your mom and your case. So that would make sense of you're wanting to be in the dark, you just don't feel good about yourself or the world or your mother. And you're taking the mirror off the wall helps you not have to focus on yourself. And then you compound the problem which many people do by evaluating your own actions and emotions as stupid so you have a new emotion now you feel ashamed and stupid for crying. I don't think that's fair to you, Carrie, you want to learn to be more supportive of yourself. So how do you do that?

You need to find a way to understand your emotions as I'm talking about to make sense of them. So I'm not surprised that you fantasize talking to somebody. I highly recommend talking to a real person in understanding a cognitive therapist or a therapist that you like, who will help you learn thinking skills and you can go to the Academy of The Academy of cognitive therapy This all lowercase letters all blended together. Because as I mentioned earlier, there are there are many helpful thinking skills and you can earn your own self respect. Buy books such as mind over mood, you can go to my website, And look at that book.

And then if you're feeling at all Oh suicidal, there's a book choosing to live again work with a therapist. And I want to make one more comment on about your memory problems. When any of us are flooded with a lot of negative emotions, we don't have a lot of if you want to think of it as computer space left in our memory. And we we also tend to blank things out when we've been through trauma. So when you say you have a loss of memory, in childhood, from your eighth to your 15th birthday, man, does that raise red flags for me now I worked with highly abused kids. So I'm, you know, I'm I'm geared to think that. So I don't know whether your loss of memory is due to maybe just a head injury, it could have been a concussion or something, I don't know, you'd need to go to a medical doctor to rule out the medical. And then I would look into some type of I went with your psychologist, I would try to go back a little into your past, with someone very trained, because you don't want to do what's called flooding, have too many emotions flood over you, without any having anyone to talk to her any skills or skills to deal with them. So if there is trauma or abuse in the past, you want to be able to work through it in a way where you're not beating up on yourself. You don't you want to be able to return your mirror back to your room and enjoy your life. So the question is, why are you in the dark about your childhood, I would really recommend cognitive therapy or if there's another type that you would enjoy, as I mentioned, I would go for that. And I wouldn't be surprised if you do learn that if you put in the time, put in the effort learn those thinking skills, I wouldn't be surprised if you discover your memories a tad better and your self respect is a tad better too. And then you can bring that mirror back into your room and you can turn the lights on and maybe even connect a tad more with your mom.

And here's a little more from Dr. Kenner . . .

How can you discover, or retrieve, rediscover, or create your own happiness for yourself? Where are the pockets in your life where you're doing well, and were the pockets in your life where you just feel like you fell off a cliff and you feel like there's no return. You never want to feel that way about your own life. You never want to throw in the towel. You want to find the thinking skills. And I mean that the thinking skills to help you change your emotional tone. If you think of your house the decor in your bedroom, let's say if it Do you like it? Or would you like to change that decor into something that's more upbeat and lively? Well, it's the same in your emotional life. I mean, there are some times we can't help but be in a dark room. If we lose a loved one, we lose the job. And we're temporarily down in the pits. But sometimes we put ourselves in the pits unnecessarily we put ourselves in a dark room, or a room where the walls have awful artwork, artwork that just makes your stomach turn. And you don't want to be in that psychological room. You want to know how to open a door How to open a window, let the fresh air and and change your life.


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Romantic partners need to communicate constantly, but about what the possibilities are endless. Be creative, revealing things about yourself your likes and dislikes, your attitudes and values can be very effective. Tell your partner what you like such as boy do I appreciate it when I come home late and I smell dinner cooking. Thanks, or I love the way you look in that suit. If you don't like something your partner does communicate this in a positive way. For example, sweetheart, I enjoy making love with you boast when you've just showered and your breath is fresh.

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