INSIGHTS

Can You Choose Your Feelings?

By David Pearl, LCSW

When working with couples in counseling, my focus is to help my clients interact with each other intentionally instead of reactively.  An example of a reactive response is when anger gets triggered. Anger is a secondary emotion which shields us from more painful and vulnerable emotions, such as shame, loneliness, or sadness. In relationships, we often use anger as a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from something hurtful that our partner has said, or something that will effect us in an unwanted way.

As an alternative, I advise my clients to hear their partner’s words and experience them differently, as if they are their partner’s best friend.  The goal is to not allow the secondary emotion of anger to overtake us. We have the ability to choose what effect words have over us, rather than simply reacting without control. This enables us to communicate with our partner better, to respond in an intentional manner without acting out of anger, and to problem solve in a more creative way that’s good for both people.

Article written by:

David Pearl

LCSW, Psychotherapist and founder

I am a psychotherapist, executive coach, and organizational consultant helping athletes, performers, professionals, and businesses in Nashville, Tennessee, New York, and online via telehealth.

I obtained my Master’s degree from The Silver School of Social Work at NYU and my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am formally trained in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), and have certifications in Imago Relationship Therapy and Prepare/Enrich Premarital and Marital Counseling.

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