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Identifying Your Emotions is the Key to Exponential Happiness

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In the weeks and months following the heinous terror attacks of September 11, millions of Americans decreased their domestic air travel. As domestic flying decreased, car travel increased where a study found that people opted to drive longer distances rather than fly. Not taking into account 9/11, there were 331 airplane crash fatalities in the U.S from 1751 crash events. What’s interesting is there were 42,000 driving-related deaths in that same year. The number of deaths in air travel and road travel remained relatively consistent in subsequent years.

Statistics imply that post 9/11, Americans were more willing to risk mortality of long-distance car travel rather than adopt the minimal risk of air travel, presumably due to the perception of risk involved from terrorism threats. We can believe that the September 11 terrorist attacks may have resulted in a secondary toll of deaths as people made poor choices to avoid scenarios of risk. What has been made clear, is any large-scale threat to public safety affects our emotions and the decisions we make

Our Emotional Responses

Our emotional responses are a reaction to the world around us. We’re supposed to smile at babies because it’s our evolutionary advantage to give infants positive emotions. We’re supposed to react with a fight or flight response under perceived danger because self-preservation is part of our DNA. What we don’t often think about is the thousands of micro reactions we face every day. The waiter at the restaurant is polite, so we respond with kindness. 

The car next to us cuts us off in traffic, so we abuse them. While many emotional expressions are universal, sociocultural norms can dictate how we respond when coming across an intense emotion. For example, in Japan, people tend to hide their display of fear or disapproval when an authoritative figure is present. Conversely, in western culture like the United States, people are more likely to express their negative emotions in their presence and with others.   

We can come across an intense emotion, not ignore it, control it, and use it to make the world a better place. Climate change, domestic abuse and human trafficking are all relevant examples in today’s world. Even protests of racial injustice become fueled by emotion. The adverse reaction we may feel about these issues can be used more positively by donating our time, helping others, or educating ourselves and those around us to become more aware. 

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

Emotion is our human way of putting a meaningful stamp on our experiences. They are a key driver in our behaviour and shape our responses to what’s around us. Emotions enable us to make decisions, take action, connect and communicate with others, and build meaningful friendships and relationships. Our feelings are either short-lived or long-lasting. Understanding emotional behaviour in others informs us how to adapt our behaviour accordingly.

In our daily lives, we are often told not to ‘get too emotional’. When females show emotion,  others see it as showing “too much”, or “overreacting”. Conversely, when men show too much emotion, or any form of emotion- Others may see it as being “weak”. 

Emotions and Decision Making

Many of the decisions we make in our lives are almost instant and based on emotion. We’re not always in charge and can be too impulsive or deliberate for our own good. One moment we get a hot head and explode with the confidence of an idea; the next we’re paralysed by uncertainty. Antonio Damasio’s research has been instrumental in helping humans understand how emotions influence our behaviour- in particular, how we make decisions. 

One of Damasio’s studies took a look into those who had damage to the brain’s emotional circuitry. In addition to finding that such people could not feel emotions, he also uncovered that they are unable to make decisions. The patients were able to describe the action they should be taking, but could not settle on a decision, even as simple as what to eat. Emotions enable us to weigh up options and come to what we believe to be the best outcome for ourselves. They are a vital component of our decision-making process. 

When making a decision, we look for a way to satisfy a basic human need: happiness. It is why many of our choices are unconscious attempts to avoid guilt, fear and negative feelings, whilst trying to enhance our positive emotions simultaneously. 

The strong influence our emotions have over our thought process means that our decisions are susceptible to error. And because we value our time, decisions are often fast and automatic, where we can feel a certain way for as long as possible. We then don’t often realise the full impact of the emotional interference in our decisions.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: Desire, emotion and knowledge.” – Plato

3 Ways To Identify and Help Our Emotions

Our emotions are there for a reason. They act as the rudder of a ship that helps us navigate and steer through calm and rough seas. Taking time to understand our emotions and feelings not only spares us from unexpected breakdowns, but it’s also how we can create a happier self and live a happier life. 

  1. Take time to engage with people. Read the emotions in their faces and show them you’re listening and paying attention. Visual feedback and facial cues often work well where your mirror neurons are activated and help you become more engaged.
  2. Communicate your emotions with others. Learn to articulate your thoughts and feelings and feel whether your automatic response is appropriate. Suppose you can identify the source of the emotional trigger. In that case, you will be able to assess the emotional temperature of a conversation better and defuse any tension through your actions. 
  3. Slow Down. Think and assess what is happening around you. Our decision-making is capable of making errors in judgement and becomes easily influenced. By applying logical and rational thinking, you will be able to judge situations more effectively. 

With exercising to help your emotions consistently, the growth that comes with it will set you up for success. Whether it’s personally or professionally, nurturing how you feel and becoming aware of strategies in dealing with emotions will create exponential happiness.

Blake is a writer, reader, sports lover and creator of blakedevos.com. He shares his thoughts through writing on Productivity, Healthy Habits, Athlete Inspiration and Health + Fitness. When he's not writing and reading,  he is boxing or socialising. You can take part in his Habit and Productivity Challenge here.

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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