When you experience an emotion without knowing the precise cause, you are more likely to treat that emotion as information about the world, rather than your experience of the world. This is known as affective realism. Affective realism causes us to experience supposed “facts” about the world that are in fact created by our feelings. It can leave us trapped in an emotional world of our own making, without realizing that we are the ones who imprisoned ourselves.
Luckily, emotional granularity can be improved. If you can learn to distinguish more precise meanings for “Feeling great” (happy, content, thrilled, relaxed, joyful, hopeful, inspired, prideful, adoring, grateful, blissful . . .) or “Feeling crappy” (angry, aggravated, alarmed, spiteful, grumpy, remorseful, gloomy, mortified, uneasy, dread-ridden, resentful, afraid, envious, woeful, melancholy . . .), your brain will have many more options for predicting, categorizing, and perceiving emotions.
High emotional granularity gives us a much greater range of tools, allowing more flexible responses to our challenges. It allows us to tailor our actions to the underlying causes of our emotions, rather than their immediate appearance.
Pick up where you left off. Finish the half-read books on your shelf. Eat what’s in the cupboard. Wear what you own in ways you never thought of before. Apologize and mean it. Call old friends. Revisit old projects. Try other routes.
Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions ('amygdala hijackings') to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair - or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair. Emotional flashbacks are especially painful because the inner critic typically overlays them with toxic shame, inhibiting the individual from seeking comfort and support, isolating him in an overwhelming and humiliating sense of defectiveness
By trying on new perspectives the way we try on new clothes, we can “try out” different body-budgeting regimes. The same way we might allocate more financial resources to one budget category or another, we can do the same with our body budgets.
This can include anything from travel in foreign countries, to spending time with different kinds of people, to reading literature, to trying new experiences. These experiences expose us to different ways of meeting human needs that we may want to borrow for ourselves.