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Are You the Truck or the Trailer? How Emotions Drive Our Behaviors

Emotions are powerful.

They can be so threatening that some people do what they can to turn them off or shutdown.

Others might experience feelings or emotions that become overwhelming and impact the ability to function during the day.

How can understanding your emotions help make sense of the way they influence behaviors?

Well, it can be explained by the position that the emotions are allowed to take in a person’s life. The truth is, our emotions don’t always tell us the whole truth. That's why you need to understand your emotions rather than believe them first.

I believe that a metaphor of a truck pulling a trailer can help us understand the importance of where we place our emotions. And whether we allow ourselves to lead our emotions, or to be led by them.

Understanding Your Emotions as the Trailer

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As the trailer, you are led by the emotions. You allow the emotions to dictate what you are doing with your day. The emotions dictate how you will interact with others. They inform you of your value or worth throughout the day.

In other words, you are at the mercy of the emotional wave that may take place throughout your day or week. In this case you don't have a sense of emotional regulation.

A trailer has no say in which direction it is going. It is being pulled by the vehicle in front. In the same way, a person is simply along for the ride when allowing the emotions to have control over behaviors.

Understanding Your Emotions as the Truck

Trailers are often valuable tools. They can be used to haul equipment to a job site. And some are used for housing on camping trips.

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There are very good reasons to have trailers. And we do not want to get rid of them or ignore their usefulness.

But we also don’t use trailers as the dominant guide on our journeys, either.

As the truck, you pay attention and understanding your emotions in order to allow them to inform you. You recognize the usefulness of your emotions and gut feelings. Therefore, you have a higher level of emotional regulation.

But the emotions are not the overriding decision maker. You do not allow them to dictate your behavior. Instead, emotions are used as a tool in the work of choosing a behavior or action.

Allowing emotions to be a tool that informs you, but doesn’t command you, is a way to build resilience.

The Value in Agency and Emotional Regulation

A person who is a trailer to their emotions is a person who feels like they do not have any control over their life. The patterns of marriage conflict are familiar. Anxiety can run high. Feelings of hopelessness might be present.

And eventually a person or couple feels stuck.

And though it may feel impossible, a person or couple can regain control over the emotions. There is no need to be “at the whim” of the emotions.

In fact, allowing the emotions to be “the truck” is what often leads a person feeling “stuck.” And there are a lot of benefits to emotional regulation.


Begin to Understand Your Emotions and Gain the Benefits of Self-Control Through Online Therapy in Tigard, Oregon!

Learning to control our emotions is not easy. But it is worth it.

Jason Wilkinson recognizes the value and freedom found in being the truck to our emotional trailer. Jason is the owner of Wellspace Counseling, located in Tigard, Oregon. Wellspace Counseling serves individuals & couples living in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and the Greater Portland Metro Area. Wellspace Counseling also offers therapy throughout the state of Oregon through online therapy. Schedule your consultation to start your journey to mental and emotional wellness.


Emotional regulation is not the only benefit to receiving therapy at Wellspace Counseling in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego and throughout Portland, Oregon. Some other services you might be interested in include: Individual Counseling Teen Counseling College and Young Adult Counseling Anxiety Counseling Couples and Marriage Counseling All Services are available via online therapy in Oregon


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