What is Emotional Distress?
If we are aware of our emotions and understand how to respond to them in a healthy way, we will experience a general sense of stability and fulfillment in our lives.
Emotional Avoidance & Emotional Flooding
Our emotions, or feelings, are a very important part of our personality and play a major role in how we function in life and how we experience a sense of well-being. some people operate day to day with very little awareness of their feelings while others are keenly aware of the ebb and flow of their feeling states. how our emotions manifest is attributable to our biological chemistry, influences of how and where we were raised, and our current & past adult life circumstances. Emotions, on there own, are not indicators of morality, character, faith, or strength but rather internal guides that offer us direction, inspiration, a sense of connection to others, and also warn us of potential danger.
Finding emotional balance
We all seek stability in our lives and a sense of consistency and predictability. How we respond to our emotional temperature plays a key role in the quality of our relationships, our work life, and our physical and mental health. Two extremes of emotional imbalance are emotional avoidance and emotional flooding. both of these are learned coping styles that focus on control- a consistent pattern of emotional avoidance is over control which manifests typically as rigidity in one's lifestyle. While emotional flooding is characterized as a pattern of loss of control over emotional states which can lead to unintentional consequences from efforts used to stop the flooding. Both emotional avoidance and emotional flooding cause deterioration in the quality of our relationships, social life, work life and general health.
If we are accustomed to pushing aside our emotions or rather ignoring them, we will experience a deprivation of the full experience of who we are and what life holds for us. Many times this is a learned coping mechanism that at one time served to protect us but now is causing more harm than good. A lack of new coping skills perpetuates this pattern of managing emotions. Generally, those who fit this description may tend toward a select few expressions of emotions that they feel safe displaying and that don't put them at risk of experiencing feelings of vulnerability- leading to emotional distress.
Feelings of vulnerability lead one to believe they may experience harm in some way. This is typically reinforced by past experiences that condition one to avoid previously painful situations and encounters. Emotional avoidance can range from mild to severe depending on the intensity, frequency and duration as well as co-occurring factors that impact ones ability to hold a job, keep relationships, and maintain their general health. Anxiety, in it's various forms, is typically a result of emotional avoidance. The good news is change is possible and the counseling process can aid the emotionally avoidant person in beginning to identify feelings, learn new, safe & helpful responses to feelings, and develop a constructive - non-fear based framework for managing emotions.
Some people experience their emotions in very intense ways that last much longer than desirable and can change and fluctuate without notice. Unfortunately, these are highly charged negative emotions or feeling states. In some cases, a person may swing between depressed states and anxious states that vary in intensity, frequency and duration. Not always, but occasionally this can be an indication of a more serious condition like bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or borderline personality disorder. If you are grieving a loss, fluctuations and loss of control in emotional states are scary but are very normal and typically even out over time.