On the last track we discussed an additional method for reforming negative emotions. This was limit the duration of the unpleasant emotion. We also discussed the act as if technique. This was a two step technique. The two steps were choosing the reaction which best serves the client’s interests and acting as if that is the way the situation feels.
On this track we will finish our discussion on reforming negative emotions. The final approach to reforming negative emotions is controlling the intensity of the unpleasant emotion. As you listen to this track, consider your client. Is his or her cancer viewed as a current situation, a tragedy, or both?
Reforming Negative Emotions - Part 3 of 3
Method # 3 - Controlling the Intensity
First, let’s discuss controlling the intensity of a an unpleasant emotion resulting from a current situation concerning their diagnosis. I find it productive to ask if there are degrees of unpleasant emotions. Most clients I treat agree that there are. Therefore, might you advise clients to make the effort to react less dramatically to those situations which may or may not be serious but are perceived that way?
Consider Lynn’s case further. She was, as she put it, "kicked out" of her business by her partner. Let’s assume that Lynn was factual in her statements and that she was unfairly treated. Her great deal of animosity regarding this incident is a stressor which is possibly affecting her cancer treatment and wellness.
But even if it wasn’t, as I ask Lynn, "Would it be reasonable for you to base your life on your hatred for your partner and your distress regarding being treated unfairly?" Your client’s answers to this question may provide some clue as to how he or she deals with similar affairs in his or her life. You might prompt your client to ask "Are most disappointments you experience more you can bear?" How might your client isolate the unpleasant emotion and its cause to analyze it objectively?
Isolate the Unpleasant Emotions
One example of how isolate the unpleasant emotions can be done is Lindsey, age 53. Lindsey stated in one of our sessions, "I’m over the hill, I have breast cancer, I’m single, and I have an asshole of a boss but can’t quit because I need the insurance." Many nights Lindsey had gone home with her stomach in knots because of her supervisor.
She stated, "Every morning I feel like I’m walking into a war zone." In our discussions, I attempted to isolate specific interactions between Lindsey and her boss. Would you agree that with some clients this may not be an easy task? Lindsey introduced other difficulties in her life into our discussions. She found it difficult to isolate her supervisor from the other problems in her life.
Clearly, reality prohibits total isolation of emotions. However, Lindsey learned that she saw herself as a weak and helpless child being bullied by an all-powerful persecutor. I facilitated her to relabel the situation as being an adult whose job required her to interact with an unpleasant superior. Lindsey stated, "Even so, I recognize that, like everyone else, my job has aspects not to my liking."
In a later session, Lindsey stated, "I face every day with that thought in mind and it helps me not hate my boss so much. I’m not as angry and frustrated all the time." Clearly, this is not a complete solution, but at least Lindsey did something to minimize the intensity of her negative emotions. Think of your Lindsey. Could simply directing her attention to the situation in her most objective mode be productive for your client?
On this track we finished our discussion on reforming negative emotions. The final approach to reforming negative emotions is controlling the intensity of the unpleasant emotion.
On the next track we will discuss find that three factors can influence or result in hopelessness. The three factors are myths about cancer, type of cancer, and intuition.
Online Continuing Education
What is a third approach to reforming negative emotions?
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