One of the biggest thing I learned when overcoming social anxiety was what Meta-Feelings (Meta-Emotion) were and how to deal with them.
Meta-Feelings basically are your feelings about your feelings. Or your reactions, thoughts, cognitions about your feelings.
Meta-Emotion was a term coined in the late 90s by Gottman, Katz and Hooven. It referred to how parents talked to their children about their feelings. We can have parents who emotionally coached us, and were OK about our emotions, and welcomed talk and sharing about them. Or we can have parents who dismiss, shame, discourage, disapprove of emotions and did what it takes to stomp out an emotion in the room.
Those reactions are internalised and become the way we relate to our own feelings and the feelings of others.
I use the words feelings and emotions interchangeably.
4 Types of Meta-Emotion
We can have 4 types of meta-emotions:
A study was done and concluded “Meta-emotions can be classified into four types:
negative-negative (e.g., feeling embarrassed about feeling sad),
negative-positive (e.g., feeling guilty about feeling happy),
positive-positive (e.g., feeling hopeful about feeling relieved),
positive-negative (e.g., feeling pleased about feeling angry),”
“In our study, negative-negative meta-emotions were the most common type. This indicates that many people get upset, nervous, or angry about their own negative emotions, in particular.”
Not Making Headway in Therapy
I found that until I understood this concept I didn’t make much headway in therapy. What meta-feelings do is lock the original feeling in place. You have to work on the meta feelings first in order to release the feelings you want to deal with. Often times just transmuting the meta-feelings released a lot of the underlying feelings as well.
I’m Such A Loser
This was one of the loudest voices in my head. Anytime I did anything that wasn’t perfect, I told myself I was a loser. Anytime I glimpsed at my issues I felt so deflated and depressed because I hadn’t overcome anything. But. My issues were being locked in because of how I talked to, and felt about myself.
I don’t hear that voice in my head today.
So working on your relationship to your feelings, and being kind and accepting of them is paramount to healing yourself.
Other than EFT which is what I used to work on when I had social anxiety, I learned focusing for a few years. It’s completely changed the way I related to my feelings. I learned it from Emily Agnew and Ann Weiser Cornell. I will write about focusing in the coming weeks.
Let me know how you get on assessing your feelings about your feelings?
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe