Samantha enjoyed her job as a sales rep and had worked for the same company for five years. Despite her considerable experience in the job, she still felt intense bouts of anxiety when giving presentations or meeting new and important customers: This should not be happening to me after five years in the job.’ Raymond liked to see himself as calm and cool under pressure, a man who took problems in his stride but, unfortunately, his persona did not always reflect reality—he often flew into a rage if, for example, he could not find his car keys or assembling DIY furniture proved too complicated: ‘Why do I behave like that? Why can’t I control myself?’ Janet had to get a full-time job to make ends meet and therefore had to find a childminder for her two children. Even though she knew they were being well looked after, she still felt guilty about ‘abandoning’ them: ‘I should be there to pick them up from school and give them their tea.’ Brian could be clumsy sometimes and felt hurt when some of his friends laughed at him for tripping over his own feet or bumping into things: ‘It’s not fair when they laugh at me. I can’t help being uncoordinated.’ In each of these four cases, the emotions prove troublesome because though not incapacitating or requiring professional attention, they nevertheless hover in the background, unresolved and ready to intrude again.
When I (MN) asked each person what caused their troublesome emotions, they said, respectively, giving presentations and meeting important customers, searching for car keys and doing DIY, having to go to work and leaving her children with someone else, and being laughed at for acting clumsily. In other words, external events or others create their feelings. While this view of emotional