Why Do I Get Upset?

Thoughts that are keeping you upset.

Why Do I Get Upset?

By Ray Myers June 17, 2024 06.17.2024 Share:
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Being Upset Is A Reaction

When we are upset, it’s because something emotional has occurred that has significant meaning to us personally. When we react out of that emotional trigger, often there is an unconscious thought that accompanies it. If we can identify the thoughts, we can start to deal with them, which means responding in a way where we have more control.

The 3 Core Thought Categories

The 3 Core Thought Categories are as follows:
1) Responsibility (I am or did something wrong)
2) Lack of Safety
3) Lack of Control/Power

These thoughts describe how you currently feel about yourself in a distressing situation. They have roots in memories of our feelings in our worst moments. They are not actually conscious and may not actually even be realistically true. All that matters is, “it’s the feeling you have about yourself in different circumstances that ultimately controls your life.”

1) Responsibility

I’m stupid. I don’t deserve love. I’m a bad person. I’m ugly. I don’t matter. I’m different. I am permanently damaged.

This is a feeling of inadequacy. There are many ways we can feel we are somehow defective, loveable, good enough, etc. When we verbalize the feeling, it helps us understand not only the feeling better but ourselves also.

2) Lack of Safety/Vulnerability

I can’t trust anyone. I’m in danger. I am unsafe. It’s not ok (safe) to feel (show) my emotions.

Something happened to you. You were hurt, badly. You may have felt like you were in danger in the past, but is the memory causing an unsafe feeling now? Feeling unsafe due to a past traumatic event in a current safe environment is a symptom of a thought that keeps us upset.

3) Lack of Control/Power

I can’t get what I want. I have to be perfect. I can’t stand up for myself. I have no choice. I feel helpless. I can’t let it out. I can’t trust myself.

In childhood we didn’t have a choice. Our memories of our worst moments begin there. Others can be cruel, uncaring, or even cluelessly misunderstanding. Do you find yourself overreacting, now or then? What thought does that say about you?

Upset Reaction to the 3 Core Thoughts

When you think of past experiences, is there some physical reaction in your body associated with them? If the answer is yes, one of the 3 thoughts is likely encoded in those memories. If you start to notice any patterns, the 3 Core Thoughts are likely directly affecting you in unhelpful ways in the present.

Now What?

Identifying the negative thoughts that are individual to you is a first step in starting to recognize when they are being triggered in the present. Empowerment then comes as a result of the new insight and knowledge gained, leading to downstream effects in which positive change can.

Remember that there is no blame here, only information. These 3 Core Thoughts are in all of us, and run the show for many. The objective is to better prepare ourselves for future situations. Over time and with practice, we respond more and react less.

Shapiro, F., & White, K. (2012). Getting past your past: Take control of your life with self-help techniques from EMDR therapy. Tantor.


If you’d like to know more, schedule your appointment with Ray today.

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