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Emotions and Behaviour

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Our emotional health relies on our ability to identify and process feelings

Our emotional health relies on our ability to identify and process feelings. A repressed or suppressed emotion skews our entire emotional equilibrium, since when we repress one emotion, we repress them all. This, in turn, has dramatic repercussions on our overall health.

Buried emotions never really disappear. Instead, they appear in the guise of emotional behaviours, which often create vicious cycles or become self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, a person who refuses to acknowledge his feelings of sadness will probably avoid relationships, making him even more depressed, while emotional eaters usually become angrier with themselves after bingeing.

Below is a partial list of emotional behaviours and some of the conditions associated with them. Bear in mind that every case is unique, that any behaviour can be used to repress or suppress any emotion and that the key to deciding whether or not a behaviour is unhealthy is if it starts to take over your life.

Fear

Fear is our first signal that we are not safe. It has many different faces. We may fear being inadequate or we may fear success. We may fear abandonment or we may fear being tied down in a relationship.

Most fears revolve around issues of control and play themselves out in behaviours that either assert power or relinquish it. These include:

  • Controlling
  • Demanding
  • People pleasing
  • Phobias
  • Suspiciousness
  • Prejudice
  • Competitiveness
  • Procrastination
  • Anxiousness
  • Relationship avoiding
  • Obsessing
  • Getting into debt
  • Aggression
  • Panic
  • Lying
  • Betrayal

Among the conditions associated with fear-related behaviours are:

  • Heart palpitation
  • Hypertension (see Blood Pressure, High)
  • Teeth grinding

Anger

Anger is our emotional security system. When someone or something invades our emotional, physical or spiritual boundaries, we become angry. But few people know how to deal with their anger in a healthy way.

More often than not, it emerges through:

  • Self-pity
  • Martyrdom
  • Teasing
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Abruptness
  • Rudeness
  • Irritability
  • Temper tantrums
  • Raging
  • Chronic activity
  • Sarcasm
  • Whining
  • Complaining
  • Avoiding
  • Busyness
  • Pacing
  • Poor self-care
  • Blaming

These do little to address the root causes of our anger and may in fact perpetuate them.

Among the conditions associated with anger-related behaviours are:

  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension (see Blood Pressure, High)
  • Stomach pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • Ulcers, Stomach and Intestinal

Loneliness

Loneliness combines a sense of loss with a feeling of sadness and disconnection. Feeling lonely alerts us to our need to connect with others. If this basic and primal need remains unmet, it can do physical and psychological harm.

Behaviours that arise out of loneliness include:

  • Isolating
  • Fantasy
  • Partying
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Relationship hoping
  • Avoiding relationships
  • Emotional eating
  • TV watching or other numbing behaviours
  • Moping
  • Negative self-talk (i.e., "Why doesn't anyone like me?")

Among the conditions associated with loneliness-related behaviours are:

  • Addictions and alcoholism
  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Sadness

Sadness stems from a sense of loss. Not all losses are actual or quantifiable: sadness can be a sense of loss for what may have been or what we believe to have been ours by right.

Because the grieving process is so gruelling and can make others feel uncomfortable, sadness may be one of the most suppressed emotions. It materializes through behaviours such as:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of energy
  • Isolation
  • Chronic weepiness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Poor self-care
  • Poor eating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Memory problems

Among the conditions associated with sadness-related behaviours are:

  • Addictions and alcoholism
  • Eating disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Skin problems
  • Weakened immune system (see Immune System, Weak)

Anxiety

Anxiety is a sense of pending and unspecified dread. Often, it will serve as a cesspool of all the other emotions that we repress or suppress.

Behaviours that arise out of anxiety include:

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Poor sleep
  • Worry
  • Fretting
  • Obsessing
  • Disturbed/Distorted eating
  • Overachieving
  • Memory problems

Among the conditions associated with anxiety-related behaviours are:

  • Asthma attacks (see Asthma)
  • Colitis
  • Eating disorders
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Shingles
  • Stomach pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • Ulcers, Stomach and Intestinal

Joy

Joy is the emotion we all want to feel, but it may be repressed or suppressed by people who grew up in environments where expressions of emotion were not allowed.

People unable to deal with joy in an emotionally healthy way will often indulge in self-sabotaging behaviour, including:

  • Overactivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unanimated, "flat" energy
  • Inappropriate joking
  • Childishness

Behaviours associated with all emotions:

  • Adrenaline seeking
  • Emotional eating
  • High-risk behaviours (e.g., gambling, extreme sports)
  • Procrastination
  • Workaholism
  • Poor self-care

Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is when a person eats for emotional reasons, such as boredom, excitement, loneliness or frustration, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. In trying to fill emotional needs with food, emotional eaters find themselves feeding a bottomless pit. Their behaviour only ceases with acknowledging their emotional needs and addressing the real issues that lie beneath them.

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