featured image by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay
Have you ever caught yourself thinking:
- I must not be a burden to others, so it is better not to share my feelings or needs.
- Others will stop loving me if I am too “fuzzy” or “difficult”.
- When I am “needy” or “emotional”, I will chase my partner away.
- Sharing my vulnerable emotions makes me look weak.
- Others will judge me for being weak or overly sensitive.
- Talking about a problem is not helpful. Only taking action and fixing a problem is helpful.
- My partner (family member) shouldn’t be so needy.
- My partner wants and expects too much of me emotionally.
All these limiting beliefs keep you stuck in being over-identified with personality parts like your Rational Self, your Responsible Self or your Pleaser Self. You have perhaps grown up receiving direct and indirect messages that you need to take care of your emotions because they are burdensome or too much for others. You have probably learned to be a good listener but not so good at sharing about yourself. Perhaps you have been your mom’s or dad’s mature little kid who cared for their emotions. It might have felt good to be your parent’s support because you felt special, but it was also a massive burden for a child. In that case, your reaction to that enmeshment in childhood might be that you are somewhat “allergic” to emotions, and it often feels too much when your partner wants something.
Why could emotional avoidance be an issue?
Our emotional connection to others is vital for our life force. It is the source of feeling accepted and loved. It is what we all deep down need and want to thrive. Emotional connections are the glue that ties us to others and holds our relationships together. Sharing and receiving emotions is the fuel that keeps our love relationships going. A romantic relationship requires vulnerability for intimacy. It rests upon the vulnerable emotional connections we allow.
Paradoxically, we undervalue emotions in our society. Feelings are often regarded as a nuisance or even considered weak and undesirable, particularly for men. That cuts especially men off from a vital force of nurturance. But the smartest men and women use their emotions to help them make decisions and use the examination of their thoughts and stories to be in charge of their feelings.
No emotion is bad, wrong or immoral. Emotions are all valuable because they give us feedback. Fear, for example, has the function of keeping us safe. Sadness tells us we are experiencing the loss of something or someone and need to see how we can replace the loss. Anger lets us know we are experiencing something as unfair or we are in defence mode because more vulnerable emotions are coming up. We need to find out what we are feeling underneath the anger. Every emotion has a purpose.
When we push our emotions down or ignore them, there are several possible consequences:
- Physical pain, like headaches, back pain, or intestinal upset
- Mental health issues, like depression or anxiety
- Exhaustion or lack of energy
- Uncontrollable emotions like anger outbursts
One of the worst repercussions is
- Keeping our relationships superficial and causing a feeling of emptiness
The secret to forming and maintaining real connections lies in putting your feelings into words and sharing them with others. And on the receiving side, listening deeply and acknowledging the feelings. Depending on how you grew up, it can be hard to identify your feelings, not to mention share them and be compassionate with yourself and others in the process. But, just as you can choose to learn any skill, for example, to cook, to do something creative or learn a new sport, you can also slowly begin to learn the skills required to have deeper emotional connections.
It starts with choosing to change. In general, “change happens when we are holding enough stress and enough safety at the same time.” (Jules Taylor Shore). Or in other words, when our suffering or pain is more significant than our fear of change, we are motivated enough to move forward. Beyond feeling motivated, we need to feel safe with our partners to practice new ways of being. That’s why couples coaching or therapy is beneficial to create an environment that combines your motivation with an atmosphere of compassion, acceptance and safety.
If you and your partner or a family member are struggling to
identify, accept, share or acknowledge feelings
reach out to learn how to connect more deeply.
Reach out for individual sessions or couples coaching.
Belief Change & Relationship Coaching