Some interesting if not bizarre research just published shows how we readily regulate our emotions by having unconscious goals. The researchers examined people’s revulsion to pooing babies and found that women who wanted children (with no previous experience of pooing babies) were able to down regulate their emotional responses to poo better than women who had no wish to have children. They were also able to up regulate other emotions surrounding the yukky bits of childhood better than a control group.
We certainly find that people who really want to achieve something like public speaking or flying, tend to move faster through our processes tan those that are doing the course for some goal beyond the fear, for example, getting promoted or going on a particular holiday. If the holiday is important for the person learning to regulate their emotions they tend to find the process easier. However if the individual is learning to regulate their emotions because of the fear of the flight but doesn’t really want to go on the trip anyway this can take longer.
Shidlovski, D., & Hassin, R. (2011). When Pooping Babies Become More Appealing: The Effects of Nonconscious Goal Pursuit on Experienced Emotions Psychological Science DOI: 10.1177/0956797611417135