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Unconscious (implicit) emotion regulation

Implicit emotion regulation is how someone moderates and changes their emotions automatically, beneath their awareness. Goals and intentions are going to play a large role in how this process occurs because they are a large source of emotions and feelings. People form many intentions which they aren't aware of, and these intentions are going to influence their emotions and the potential thoughts they might have.

When someone feels better but they don't know why, or when someone thinks something but they don't know what motivated them to think it, then it was clearly from the unconscious (such as unconscious feelings, thoughts, intentions and goals) which caused them to want to think the thought and generate the new emotion.

What is the difference between an unconscious goal and an unconscious intention? It is clear what the difference between those two terms when referring to there conscious function is - a goal is a large objective, an intention however is something that you want or intend where you are thinking that you are trying to do something right then. You are trying to accomplish something - that what an intention is. You have the intent to do something. You are striving to do that thing.

A goal, however, you aren't necessarily trying to achieve in the present time. You can put a goal aside or lower its priority. An intention you usually wouldn't do that with. When someone forms an intention, they try to do it right away. So a goal is basically a more important intention. If you intend to do something, and it is important for you, then it becomes a goal because goals are longer term or just more important.

This distinction is important because goals and intentions can be unconscious. People make goals and intentions about things in their lives all of the time, consciously and unconsciously. However, there are two types of unconscious goals/intentions - one type is very subtle, and the other type is a larger more obvious type of goal or intention.

A subtle unconscious goal or intention might be something very insignificant emotionally. For instance you might not want someone to come closer to you, so emotionally you might freeze up. This is so subtle you probably wouldn't notice that it is occurring consciously. However what happened unconsciously was that you recognized that you didn't want this person to come near you, and you unconsciously regulated your emotions so you would be feeling less. You could say that the other person made you afraid and that caused the emotional freezing, or it could be that it was an unconscious intention of yours to block out the other person because you didn't like them or want them coming near you.

That is just one example of a subtle, unconscious emotional event. There are constantly emotional things going on beneath one's notice. All of those emotional processes are regulated unconsciously. People are much more capable of manipulating their emotions unconsciously than the are consciously because there is much more going on unconsciously than consciously.

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Source:  OpenStax, Emotion, cognition, and social interaction - information from psychology and new ideas topics self help. OpenStax CNX. Jul 11, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10403/1.71
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