Category: <span>Understanding Emotions</span>

Do you have a difficulty in cultivating relationship/friendship with others?

In our culture, IQ is given more importance than emotional intelligence. Having emotions is seen as a sign of weakness which leads to unhealthy expressions of emotions. The following are signs of emotional immaturity that can lead to difficulty in cultivating healthy and meaningful relationships with others.


Lack of emotional-awareness:

A lack of understanding of feelings leads to the inability to express them in healthy ways. For example, healthy anger helps in drawing firm boundaries whereas unhealthy expressions of anger lead to violating others’ boundaries.

  1. Inability to recognize and label one’s feelings.
  2. Inability to acknowledge negative feelings. Denying, suppressing or acting impulsively on feelings.
  3. Feeling guilty for having negative feelings like jealousy, envy, anger.
  4. Suppressing feelings and then lashing out at someone or a situation all at once.
  5. Instead of acknowledging what you are feeling, and acting in accordance with your values, reacting to people and situations.
  6. Reacting instead of responding to situations and people frequently. Being reactive every day – Shouting, raising voice, agitated speech, angry outbursts or being numb and passive-aggressive.

Signs of unresolved trauma:

The following are just some signs of emotional immaturity that result from having experienced trauma or adverse experiences. For example, divorce, death of parents at a young age, abuse, neglect, domestic violence etc. can impact the development of emotional quotient.

  1. Persistent fear of being judged by others.
  2. Fear of being abandoned.
  3. Misinterpreting information, words, messages by other people.
  4. Always looking for signs of rejection by others (when they’re not actually rejecting you).
  5. Looking for signs of being judged, and misinterpreting information as being a judgment (when people are not being judgmental in reality).
  6. Rehashing every situation or what has been said multiple times in your mind and seeing situations bigger than what they are.
  7. Making up words and reactions in your mind. Although all of us react according to the way we see situations, when we make up things because of rehashing situations many times, it’s very unproductive. Our mind has a habit of adding details, every time we remember something. Let’s say you’re angry with someone, you’ll see things as bigger than they are every time you recall the conversation. When the mind is agitated, it’s very easy to see the situation bigger than it is.
  8. Projecting your own feelings onto others. For example, suppose you’re angry, you think the other person is angry while they’re not.
  9. Thinking that the world is out to get you -Looking at everyone with suspicion as if they have hidden ulterior motives and are out to harm you. ( There are some people who do intentionally harm and we need to recognize and stay away from them but if you’re looking at everyone/most people with suspicion, then it’s a different story).
  10. Having unpredictable behaviour pattern with people – getting too close too soon and then cutting all contact.
  11. Overexplaining each and every behaviour of yours to others and getting defensive very easily.
  12. Getting offended very easily by others remarks or taking things too personally.


Boundary Issues

  1. Putting on a smile even when you don’t like what is being said or done.
  2. Saying yes to every favor and then resenting the people you helped.
  3. Trying to empathize without understanding the context – Thinking that others will respond the same way as you would if you were in their shoes without taking into account their unique situation which may be similar to yours but isn’t the same.
  4. Emotional dumping – Dumping all of your problems and situations on every person you meet.
  5. Sharing indiscriminately – Lack of discretion when it comes to sharing your personal life and stories. Sharing everything with everyone.
  6. Lack of boundaries – Instead of speaking up when someone violates your boundaries, you end up storing all hurts and resenting them.
  7. Building a wall around yourself to protect yourself from getting hurt – Not letting people into your life and then claiming that you are misunderstood and that everyone else, but you, is to be blamed.
  8. Anticipating others needs and doing things for them without them asking for it, then resenting them for not appreciating you or pointing out all the times you’ve helped them.

Lack of Inter-personal communication skills:

  1. Blurting out every thought and feeling indiscriminately to everyone.
  2. Not filtering your words and tone in sensitive conversations.
  3. Imposing your views on others and arguing every point.
  4. Not taking responsibility for your part in a conflict.
  5. Having no clue about how to repair conflicts.
  6. Never taking initiative to repair conflicts.
If you’re displaying the signs mentioned above, people in your life may have difficulty in dealing with your venting, emotional outbursts, emotional volatility and eventually may distance themselves from you which in turn will make you feel that you’re misunderstood or worst, victimized. ( I’m not talking about genuine situations where you have been victimized).
This in turn will make you isolate yourself, think that people and the world are against you, no one understands you which in turn will just increase your loneliness, frustration, anxiety and sense of being misunderstood. It’s a vicious cycle.
Also, the above signs will make it difficult for you to cultivate and sustain meaningful relationships with others.
What can help?
  1. If you have unresolved trauma, see a trauma therapist.
  2. Start by being honest with yourself about your feelings. Every feeling is legitimate and important but if you suppress them and express them inappropriately, these feelings will only intensify, and hurt you and others. Learn more about feelings by reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and/or The Language of Emotions by Karla Mclaren.
  3. Learn simple stress management techniques and practice them daily.  EFT can help.
  4. Learn how to regulate your feelings.
  5. Build 1-1 relationships/friendships with people and make an effort to interact with them regularly. How to break up with your friends by Erin Falconer is a really good book on “finding meaning, connection and boundaries in Modern friendships.”
  6. Take responsibility for your mistakes instead of always blaming others. Look within to see what is making people distance themselves. While it’s true that you may be misunderstood, it’s also true that your emotionally volatility and reactivity don’t allow people to have a calm and clear conversation with you.
  7. Self-Care: Take up hobbies and take time out for yourself.
  8. Reduce over involvement and controlling behaviour towards your family and friends.
  9. If you’re reacting 5 times in a day reduce the reactivity to once and lesser. Once in a while everyone reacts, but if  it’s frequent, then you need to see what in your environment is making you so reactive. Sometimes when people around us are reactive, we become more reactive as well and vice versa. Sometimes our own misinterpretations, assumptions, and limiting beliefs about others or situations can make us react. Journalling, massage, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation can help.
  10. Step away from volatile situations. Don’t get caught up in the drama.
  11. You cannot always understand what others are going through and that’s why sensitivity is required when it comes to interacting with people who are going through a difficult time. The person you’re empathizing with will have different values, belief system, sense of humour, perspectives, life situations than you, and you cannot always understand what they’re going through. What works better is to understand a person’s situation in the light of their circumstances, not your own.
  12. Listen more and give less opinions or advice especially when someone is in pain or suffering.
  13. Even in situations where you were deliberately hurt by others, the only thing you can change is your feelings and attitude about it, not the others. EFT can help in releasing negative thoughts and feelings and helping you feel more empowered by coming out of the victim stance.

Please note: These suggestions don’t apply to everyone. There are some situations where others deliberately hurt us, and are violent or abusive. In these situations, it’s normal to feel scared, angry, frustrated and develop subconscious limiting beliefs as a result of the trauma. However, in order to change, the impact of the trauma will have to be processed and finally one will have to work through the layers of trauma etc. to heal oneself. It’s good to allocate responsibility for trauma to others because obviously you didn’t invite the abuse or violence. It happened and you cannot be blamed for it but at the same time you are the only one who can change, heal and transform yourself, and not the perpetrator.


Emotional hijacking

Think of a time when you completely lost it, when you felt completely overtaken by an emotion.
Getting to know your brain can be very effective in managing emotions.
I’m including a link for the 3rd Part of the FB Live series on “Making Emotions our Allies”
It’s on emotional hijacking of the brain. Get to know about the inner workings of your brain and body; what happens when you’re in the throes of an intense emotion.
In this video I discuss,
1) The Triune Brain
2) How does the information from the environment enter our brain for processing?
3) What does the brain do in a survival mode?
4) What happens to our ‘thinking brain’ when we experience emotions?

Here’s the link to the video

How emotions are made?

FB series Part 4

The clasical view of emotions suggests that they are universal, that each emotion has a distinct set of bodily sensations (called fingerprints) and that how they’re experienced isn’t contextual or culture specific. However, research has proven something quite different. Lisa Feldman Barrett in her book, How emotions are made?, challenges the classical universal view of emotions.
In her book she makes a much more logical case for emotions, that is ultimately more empowering for us.
Wouldn’t we all like to feel that we can control our emotions, that we aren’t at the mercy of our emotions.
Learn more about this theory of constructed emotions, how we actively construct our emotions instead of being a passive recipient of them. In this video, learn how each emotion is felt differently by different people, how facial expressions for each emotion vary from culture to culture and are very context dependent.

It is found in experiments that when electrodes were attached to the person’s face to measure how the facial muscles move during an emotion expression, there is more variety than uniformity.


A recent study conducted by Jack, Caldara, and Schyns (2012), demonstrates that we do not have a “universal language of emotion”. Sad, happy or angry facial expressions are seen in distinctive ways. “The study found that the Chinese participants relied on the eyes more to represent facial expressions, while Western Caucasians relied on the eyebrows and mouth”

The bodily response to different emotions are too similar to be thought of as distinct fingerprints.

So the same emotion will vary in the same individual and other individuals in different contexts in the way the bodily responses show up.

Find out more in this video


Crossing the Shame Swampland

I really like Brene Brown’s work. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown says

“In Jungian circles, shame is often referred to as the swampland of the soul. I’m not suggesting that we wade out into the swamp and set up camp. I’ve done that and I can tell you that the swampland of the soul is an important place to visit, but you would not want to live there. What I’m proposing is that we learn how to wade through it. We need to see that standing on the shore and catastrophisizing about what could happen if we talked honestly about our fears is actually more painful than grabbing the hand of a trusted companion and crossing the swamp. And, most important, we need to learn why constantly trying to maintain our footing on the shifting shore as we gaze across to the other side of the swamp—where our worthiness waits for us—is much harder work than trudging across.”



Here’s how we can work on shame with EFT.

Understanding Shame

First and foremost understanding shame is a good place to start.

What is shame?
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”( Brown, 2013)
“Shame is a form of anger that arises when your boundaries have been broken from the inside – by something you’ve done wrong, or have been convinced is wrong.” (McLaren, 2010)

So putting it simply, the difference between guilt and shame is:

Guilt is when we feel we ‘did’ something wrong. It’s about an action. Shame is when we feel ‘we’ are wrong as a person.

Make EFT your companion and talk honestly about your fears while tapping.

With EFT you can cross the shame swampland

a) Accept what you feel truly feel

Even though I feel ashamed, I accept myself and this feeling of shame.

b)Tap on all the Catastrophic thoughts – What will happen if you allow the feeling of shame to come up? Tap on all the worst case scenarios in your head about allowing this feeling.  Example – You might feel that if you allowed yourself to feel the shame, you would feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with it.

Even though I might be overwhelmed if I allow this feeling to come up, I deeply and completely accept myself and how I feel.

c) Make a Shame List – Make a list stating all the incidents in the past that make you feel ‘shame’ and tap on them.

d) Perfectionism

“Brene Brown talks about practising ‘critical awareness by reality-checking the messages and expectations that tell us that being imperfect means being inadequate.’

Since perfectionism is tied to shame, check all the triggers related to this. For example – Do you feel inadequate when you haven’t done things ‘perfectly’? Tap on all the unrealistic expectations that you have and release the feeling of inadequacy and shame.

e) Developing Shame Resilience

“Shame resilience is the ability to recognize shame, to move through it constructively while maintaining worthiness and authenticity, and to ultimately develop more courage, compassion, and connection as a result of our experience. “ ( Brown, 2013)

Some tapping statements that can help you develop shame resilience.

Even though I feel ashamed, I would like to develop courage to move through it and let it flow easily through me.

Even though I feel shame, I choose to have compassion for myself in this process of letting it move through me.

Even though I feel shame and it makes me want to distance myself from myself and others, I want to develop authentic connection with myself and others as I let it flow through me.


The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren