Going with the flow or going against the flow

Click below to link to:

bullet Time heals – or does it?
bullet How to seriously stop time healing
bullet Looking towards or looking away
bullet When does a daily hassle become a trauma?
bullet References

Here is a list of activities which may assist or impede emotional processing.  Some (eg drinking alcohol) may dull the immediate hurt of the negative life event but not necessarily affect the processing of the event itself.  Others (eg writing down the experience) may assist emotional processing more obviously.


? = Items where evidence is equivocal.

Experiencing Emotions Experiencing Emotions
Trying to understand the emotions/plan an action/view it creatively (Whelton 2004)
Allowing self to fully feel emotions
Focusing on emotion (Gendlin 1996)
Exposure to emotional trigger (Foa & Kozak 1986)
Mentally replaying the event and dwelling on the hurt/rumination (Siegle et al in press)
Suppressing ones thoughts about a negative event
(Richards & Gross 2000)
Dissociating from event/numbing
Not allowing self to experience the emotions involved
Avoiding emotional triggers
Mental or physical distraction*
Expressing Emotions Expressing Emotions
Expressing emotions directly (eg crying) (Standton et al 2000)
Talking to friend, self, pet
Writing down the experience
Expressing artistically (drawing, dance, singing)
– general expression
– or related specifically to the life event
? Aggression to objects, unrelated people, pets
(Bushman 2002 suggests this aggravates the situation)
Not expressing the emotions in any way
Not talking to others
Not writing down experiences
Appraisal Appraisal
Reappraising/recontextualising the event Attentional bias to negative event (Mogg & Bradley 1998)
Somatic/external attribution of event (Brosschot & Aarsse 2001)
Interpersonal action Interpersonal action
Talking with the person involved (if resolved)
Confronting the person involved (if resolved)
Reconciliation/forgiveness (Greenberg)
Talking with the person involved (if not resolved)
Others repeating or reinforcing the hurt
Activities Activities
Having positive emotions
(the ‘undoing effect of positive emotions’ Fredrickson et al 2000)
Sexual experience
Physical activity, walking, moving about, sports
Watching other things eg TV
Watching drama/dance/arts
Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
Continued activity without rest
Continued cognition (lack of balance with non cognitive, non verbal activities) eg worry, rumination, continued problem solving
Lack of sleep/dreams

* Whereas distraction may reduce the emotional arousal of minor emotional events (‘daily hassles’) and be useful to get through the day without being over-reactive, it is likely to be detrimental for a serious event/trauma.  Horowitz (1979,1980 & 1990) suggests mental avoidance and distraction may contribute to post traumatic stress disorder.