Much of a patient’s negative emotion comes from dwelling upon the “undesirable” actions of others. Try telling someone who is angry at someone to look at what you want in order to feel better and they may reply “I will feel better when I punch him in the face.” Or “when my brother stops doing that, then I will feel better”. That is, when the proverbial “they” stops doing “what ever”, then “I” will feel better. To depend on someone else’s behavior changing in order to feel better is a trap. That would require that every person in the world who doesn’t do as you like must change. Is that really a reasonable expectation? The need for action can and should be satisfied, but action from a positive emotional place is far different and more effective than action taken in anger.
Emotional wisdom isn’t only about moving up the emotional staircase when circumstances and events are conducive for upward movement, it is also about having the discipline and fortitude to resolve the internal struggles and to create the mental and emotional harmony necessary for action when circumstances and events are not conducive for upward movement. Too many people have the unfortunate circumstance of life that the motivation for stopping the emotional-downward spiral into self-destruction only develops from having already traveled this despondent path. And, it is the fortunate few who work and regain their evolutionary roots and learn to take action from an emotionally positive position.
A therapist may have to help a patient focus on a very narrow and constrained view of the world in order that the patient may access and use their emotional guidance. But as healing occurs, broadening a patient’s scope and understanding of how to use their emotional guidance in an increasingly vast and complicated world becomes necessary. Developing the mental-emotional ability to function in society is one measure of health. A greater measure of health and sanity is to actually enjoy the opportunities society has to offer. Tens of thousands of years of human evolution means health and well-being is a function of our cognitive ability to teach and to learn how to use our emotions to guide our mental activities.