Meta-Emotion: How You Feel About Feelings
Emotions are a vital part of our human experience and significantly shape our thoughts, behaviours, and interactions with others. However, how we feel about our feelings, or our meta-emotions, can also have a profound impact on our well-being and relationships. Because meta-emotions dictate to us what we do or should do with our feeling, should we talk about them? should we suppress them? should we pretend we are happy when we are sad? Meta-emotions are the ones answering all these questions for you and dictating the course of your actions.
To explain it further, meta-emotions refer to our thoughts and feelings, our value system, about our emotions. It can be positive or negative, influencing how we regulate and express our feelings to others. For example, someone who feels ashamed or guilty about feeling angry may try to suppress their anger instead of talking about their anger or what made them angry. This usually leads to negative consequences for themselves and their relationships.
According to research by renowned couples therapist Dr. John Gottman, how couples manage their meta-emotions is a critical factor in the success or failure of their relationships. In his studies, Gottman found that couples who could communicate and discuss their feelings without judgment or criticism were likelier to have lasting, satisfying relationships.
Managing meta-emotions is a lifelong process, and it requires practice and self-reflection. One of the most important aspects of managing meta-emotions is to become more aware of them. Many of us have deeply ingrained beliefs about emotions. For example, “crying is a sign of weakness” or “real men don’t show their feelings”. Even though changing these beliefs can be time-consuming, it is worth it due to its impact on mental health and emotional well-being.
You can learn to manage your meta-emotion by attending individual or couple therapy. Therapeutic space is a non-judgmental environment to understand and learn about what has shaped your value system around emotion. This will provide you with an opportunity for reflection and creating a new value system around your feelings.
The new value system will support your feelings and encourage you to express your feelings in a healthy way. This not only enhances your quality of life, but it can also strengthen your relationships and help you live a more fulfilling life.
I wish you all the best.