March 8, 2018

14. Ripoffs and Payoffs

Written by Rachel Eddins

ripoffs and payoffs journal exercise

Ripoffs and Payoffs

Part of evaluating our unpleasant emotions is seeing clearly what certain emotions are doing to us and for us. While we might feel justified in feeling certain feelings about a particular event, we sometimes miss the impact and cost of hanging on to these emotions.

Furthermore we also miss the possible “payoffs” that we get from keeping certain emotions alive. When we can look at our payoffs, those reasons that we give ourselves for keeping certain emotions around, we realize that such payoffs have been poor investments at best.


Rip-off: A handicap or impairment in your life caused by holding on to particular emotions. A Rip-off is what an emotion does to you.

Cost: The cost of an emotion is what you give up to keep the emotion alive.
It is the price you pay for maintaining certain emotions.

Pay-off: The perceived advantage to you in keeping certain emotions alive.
Your pay-off is your justification for maintaining the emotion.

Journal Exercise: Ripoffs and Payoffs of Holding Onto Negative Emotions

Below is a partial list of possible rip-offs and payoffs in regard to keeping certain emotions alive. Check off the ones you are most familiar with.

  • Tension in body, sickness
  • Relaxed and healthy body
  • I get attention and sympathy or comfort
  • Low self-esteem
  • Acceptance of self
  • I get to feel “humble”
  • Inability to feel close to others
  • Closeness to others
  • I get to be right and make others wrong
  • I get to feel superior
  • I get to prove how something is unfair or true
  • Limited or no love
  • Emotional acceptance
  • I get to avoid my feelings
  • Low or wasted energy
  • Energy released to enjoy life
  • I get to appear like I’m trying
  • I get to blame and punish
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Seeing things for what
  • I get to avoid taking responsibility for what I do, say or feel.
  • Inflexibility
  • Spontaneity
  • I get to be predictable
  • Blocked creativity
  • Creativity
  • People will know that I am a “good” person, a responsible person, a caring person
  • Forcing things
  • Flowing with things, ease
  • I have an excuse for poor performance
  • I get to dominate
  • No humor or fun
  • Fun, seeing the humor
  • Conflicts with others
  • Effective problem solving
  • I get to play martyr
  • I get to justify myself
  • Limited perspectives
  • Broader perspective
  • I get to play the victim
  • Limited choices
  • Openness to possibilities
  • I get to feel safe in maintaining an emotional distance from others
  • No change
  • Change happening by itself
  • I get to enjoy the fantasy
  • I get to “control” myself
  • Inability to experience joy
  • Enjoyment of “what is”
  • I get to feel an intensity like “I’m alive”
  • I get to judge
  • No peace
  • Being at peace,
  • I get to control and manipulate others to change
  • Living in the past
  • Living in the moment
  • I get people to agree with me


Go to the next journaling exercise: Evaluating and Letting Go of Negative Emotions

Click here to download the pdf version.

*Journaling exercises written by Cort Curtis, Ph.D, used with permission.

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