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Are You Emotionally Constipated? (Part 1)

These 2 Emotional Laxatives Can Help

By on Jul 2, 2017 in Relationships, Stress | 0 comments

I’m a middle child from a fairly loud and emotional family. Looking back, it seems like everyone expressed how they felt, except me. I decided at a young age to live inside my head and hide my feelings. As a therapist, I see a strong correlation between a lack of healthy emotionally expression with both depression and anxiety.

“Live in your head, you’re dead” – Tony Robbins

From age 16 to 22, I used alcohol to handle and contain my feelings. Some of these negative coping mechanisms become bad habits I still have today. I don’t drink anymore, but I still struggle at identifying and expressing how I feel. I suffer from emotional constipation.

The Damage of Emotional Constipation

1. You don’t get to enjoy the whole range of positive emotions.
2. It leads to loneliness because nobody understands you fully.
3. Your feelings can get lumped together into immobilizing anger and anxiety.
4. You miss out on understanding yourself better through your emotional experiences.
5. People will struggle to trust you when you are emotionally guarded (you appear unsafe).
6. Your relationships stay at the surface level rather than going deeper.
7. You become uncomfortable with the emotional expressions of others.
 
I hate being emotionally stuck. Prunes don’t help loosen up this constipation, but there’s hope. You need a different kind of laxative. Here are two laxatives that work.

2 Types of Emotional X-Lax

1. Identify Your Emotional Experiences: A couple of times each day, write what emotions you’ve experienced recently. Then answer 2 questions about each feeling.
Question 1. Why do I feel this way (what led to this emotional experience)?
Question 2. What am I learning about myself, or what insight have I gained, because of this emotional experience?

Here’s a resource of 40 Common Emotions & Their Definitions (20 positive & 20 negative) to help you with this activity.

2. Communicate Your Emotional Experiences: With friends, family, or co-workers, express some of these feelings. This can be done verbally or in writing (email, card, etc.). Share your answers to the above questions. In other words, take the time to express how you feel, why you feel that way, and what insight that emotional experience gives you. Don’t be weird, just be open.

One huge benefit to being emotionally open is that you’re no longer such a mystery to those who care about you. Being open and vulnerable emotional improves your leadership capacity as well. According to Daniel Goleman, the author of best selling books on emotional intelligence, emotionally smart people have 5 traits that make them effective leaders.

Leadership & Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
2. Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Social skills – managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
4. Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
5. Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” – Robert Frost

The concepts in this article help me a lot. Increasing your emotional intelligence takes practice. I have a long way to go, but these laxatives have helped. Try engaging in one each day. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a helpful book on the topic. In my next post, I will shared with you 2 more laxatives that can keep you unclogged.

Question: Do you think this stuff is a bunch of crap?

Related: Are You Emotionally Constipated? (Part 2)

Adam Gragg is a therapist and life/career coach. He has been in the counseling and coaching field since 1999. Adam specializes in helping those with anxiety, depression, and career issues.