October 5, 2021

False beliefs about emotions can severely limit us….
By Jayne Warwicker

False thoughts about our core emotions can negatively affect our lives and severely limit us.

Check out the tool below and see what you think. This one is quite lengthy but worth completing

Once completed feel free to send it to me at jayne@lionesspower.co.uk and I will respond. Alternatively, book an appointment (no fee and no obligation) where we can go over it together, as this really benefits by being completed alongside your coach.

Identifying False Beliefs about Emotions

Many people have implicit beliefs about emotions. These beliefs operate outside conscious awareness, and strongly determine the way people cope with their emotions. First, people hold beliefs about the “acceptability” of emotions. People vary in the degree to which they believe that experiencing and expressing negative feelings is acceptable. Beliefs about the unacceptability of experiencing or expressing negative thoughts and emotions have been suggested to play a key role in the development and maintenance of clinical problems such as depression and stress-related anxiety.

These beliefs may lead to the avoidance of emotions, which prevents the individual from developing self-awareness and self-understanding and, hence, the ability to take care of themselves appropriately

This may be due to the individual growing up in an environment where the expression of difficulties or negative feelings was met with punishment or a lack of sympathy.

People may also hold beliefs about the malleability of emotion. For instance, someone may believe that no matter how hard they try, they cannot really change their emotions. This belief that emotions are outside personal control is likely to result in fewer efforts at regulating them and therefore they can become stuck in a cycle of negative emotions. Therefore the individual does not engage in active attempts to regulate emotions and will therefore not experience that emotions can be regulated and the belief will remain unchallenged.

Research has shown that people who believe that emotions are less changeable experience fewer positive emotions and more negative emotions, decreased psychological well being, lower perceived emotion regulation, self-efficacy, and higher levels of depression.

By contrast, a person who believes that emotions are changeable will display a more assertive and active pattern of coping

Over time, this active pattern of coping with emotions will confirm that emotions are indeed changeable and thus strengthen the very belief regarding the changeability of emotions. Again we are looking at making permanent changes to the conscious brain which will result in reaching and maintaining the goals that we have set.

This exercise addresses your basic and often unconscious assumptions about your emotions.

Exercise 15 min.

Goal: This exercise is designed to help uncover dysfunctional or false beliefs about emotions.

Advice ■ try not to blame anyone for the false beliefs you have about emotions. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers were likely told the very same dysfunctional messages.

■ This exercise can be completed numerous times with different emotions, as people can hold different beliefs about different emotional states. You may benefit from completing the exercise with each of your main problematic emotional states, to gain an in-depth understanding of the core beliefs and consequences associated with each emotion. It may also be interesting to complete the exercise with a positive emotion; it is likely that you hold adaptive core beliefs about positive emotional states, which leads to adaptive outcomes.

Tool description

In this exercise, we will examine your basic assumptions about emotions; that is, what emotions mean to you, what it means to express them, and what would happen if you allowed yourself to feel particular emotions. The purpose of this is to uncover any false or misleading beliefs that you have which may be having a negative impact on your wellbeing.

Step 1: Choose a difficult emotion.

For the purpose of this exercise, choose one particular difficult emotion to work with. Perhaps choose an emotional state you are struggling with at the moment; for instance, you might be feeling anxious about an upcoming event, or regretful about a recent transgression. Draw the outline of a person on a piece of paper and then write down the emotion you have chosen to work with in the centre of the person.

Step 2: Uncover false core beliefs about emotion

As you read through the below list of common false beliefs about emotions, see which resonate most with you. Place a tick mark next to those statements that ring true for you (write the corresponding number). Pay particular attention to those that sound familiar, as these may be thoughts that exist outside your awareness (maybe give two ticks?)

Please add any personal beliefs that are not listed at the end.

Then, write down your core beliefs about emotions in thought bubbles around your person or just jot them down.


  1. If I lose control of my emotions in front of others, they will think less of me.
  2. I should be able to control my emotions.
  3. If I let myself feel this emotion, I will become overwhelmed by it.
  4. If I tell others how I feel, they will use it against me.
  5. If I tell others how I feel, they will think I am weak.
  6. Other people don’t feel this way. There must be something wrong with me.
  7. Only an immature person would get so emotional.

8.I should be able to cope with difficulties on my own without turning to others for support.

  1. To be acceptable to others, I must keep any difficulties or negative feelings to myself.
  2. This emotional state is not a normal response; I have to get rid of it.
  3. A happy person would not feel this way.
  4. That person responded differently than I did, therefore my emotional reaction is wrong.
  5. If I let myself feel this pain, it will kill me.
  6. Letting myself feel bad would mean falling to pieces, being a total mess, or wallowing in self-pity.
  7. If I show signs of weakness then others will reject me.
  8. Being an adult means not getting carried away by emotion; I’m supposed to be rational!
  9. Showing my emotions to others makes me look like a “drama queen.”
  10. I’m stupid for feeling this way. I should just suck it up!
  11. I should not let myself give in to these feelings.

Step 3: Explore the consequences of holding these beliefs

Now let’s look at what happens as a consequence of holding these beliefs about emotions. What impact do these beliefs have on how you feel, behave, and talk to yourself when faced with this emotion?

So let’s write down as many outcomes (positive and negative) as you can think of on the reverse of your paper.

Step 4: Evaluation Think about the following:

■ How was it to do this exercise?

■ Looking at the consequences part of the exercise, how adaptive/flexible is it for you to hold such beliefs about your emotions?

■ What was easy or difficult about the exercise?

■ What insights have you gained about your beliefs about emotions

Enjoy and I look forward to discussing this with you….

Jayne xx

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