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12 Signs You're Uncomfortable with Emotions

Most people are uncomfortable with emotions. And that makes sense to me. Most of us have been raised in emotion-phobic cultures. We are not given any formal education on emotions; we aren't taught how to understand and work with them. What's even worse is that we are given the impression that we can control our emotions when the fact is that emotions are not under conscious control.

Why don't our schools teach us the difference between categories of emotions? For example, core emotions, like anger, sadness, fear, disgust, joy, excitement, and sexual excitement, are biological survival programs containing information we should not ignore.

What we are taught in our culture—taught very well, I might add—is how to avoid emotions. Our society even praises people for not showing emotions, calling them strong, stoic, or independent. It’s no wonder most people are uncomfortable with emotions.

Signs of Discomfort

Here are 12 signs that you’re not comfortable with emotions:

  1. You sit at work yearning for a drink.

  2. You avoid conflicts with your partner.

  3. You laugh or smile when you or someone else talks about sad things.

  4. You change the subject when uncomfortable during a conversation.

  5. You find it hard to slow down and relax.

  6. You cannot be alone.

  7. You blame and judge others a lot.

  8. You can’t stop worrying.

  9. You prefer to work to intimacy.

  10. You can’t accept a compliment.

  11. You roll your eyes or say, "Whatever!"

  12. You often experience anxiety or depression.

Can you recognize an additional sign that you are not comfortable with emotions?

All of the strategies above are defences against emotions. Defences are the things we do to avoid being uncomfortable. The defences aren’t bad. They are clever creations the mind makes to spare us discomfort and pain. At one time, usually starting in childhood, we needed our defences for the emotional protection they offered. But as adults, defences often cost us more than they protect us.

Avoiding emotions every now and then is fine, even adaptive, like when we swallow our tears to not cry at work or we play a game on the cellphone to calm our anger. However, habitually avoiding emotional discomfort using the 12 signs above (and many others) is not a recipe for wellness in the long run. In fact, chronically-avoided emotions are at the root of many common diagnoses like anxiety, depression, and addiction. Healing begins with re-learning how to be with emotions.


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