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8 signs of emotional immaturity

8 signs of emotional immaturity
Emotionally immature people do poorly at self-soothing

Victims of developmental/childhood trauma often believe they “attract the wrong people”, as their family relationships do not make for good reference of well-being and emotional growth. If you identified with this vulnerability and would like to break the cycle of dysfunctional relationships, here are 8 signs of emotional immaturity:

1- Mental rigidity: emotionally immature individuals hold rigid beliefs about themselves, the world and others that do not evolve over time. Their black and white thinking does not allow them to see beyond right or wrong and good or bad. They have low tolerance for ambiguity, risk taking and making mistakes. Due to their inflexible mindset, they do not respect individuality and are weak at honouring boundaries.

2- Poor emotional regulation: emotionally immature people do poorly at self-soothing. Their neglectful attitude to their emotional health makes them suffer from depression, anxiety and or pent-up anger over a long period. Their low discomfort tolerance leads them to do what is best for them without considering the effects on others or the benefits of delaying gratification.

3- High subjectivity: the emotionally immature do not nurture the habit of distancing themselves from their own perception to allow for more neutral analyses and interpretations. They are driven by rigid beliefs and strong emotions.

4- Lack of accountability: Emotionally immature people are highly motivated by shame and have a victim mentality. They do not own their mistakes or apologise for them.

5- Egocentrism: emotionally immature people need to be the centre of attention. therefore, they spend excessive time absorbed in themselves and worrying about themselves. In addition, they have a habit of using themselves as a reference, displaying narcissistic traits.

6- Childish behaviour: Emotionally immature individuals expect others to act in mature ways for them. Their love partners feel pressured to do the hard work for them, such as confronting others and making decisions. Children of emotionally immature parents are forced to act like their parents# parent to feel safe (role reversal/parentification).

7- Fear of intimacy: vulnerability and emotional connection trigger insecurity in the emotionally immature. When “forced” to connect with their inner selves, as well as with others, they feel inadequate and overwhelmed. They deal with their discomfort by changing the subject (flight), shutting down/not engaging (freeze), and/or reacting aggressively (fight).

8- Low empathy: Due to their mental rigidity, poor emotional regulation, high subjectivity, lack of responsibility, self-centeredness and fear of intimacy, emotionally immature people are insensitive to others’ feelings.

Emotional immaturity is an effect of developmental trauma. If you experienced neglect or emotional abuse as a child and identified with the above, healing your trauma wounds can help you approach life and relationships with balance and maturity.

What I have experienced from meditating for 3 hours a day for 4 weeks

This is what happens when you meditate for 3 hours a day
What would happen if you tried meditating for long hours every day?

When I started meditating back in 2015, it was not easy to incorporate a regular practice into my daily routine. Perseverance finally paid off after long months of stubborn dedication, when sitting for 20 to 40 minutes every day turned essential for my wellbeing. It has been 7 years since my first sitting, and I have learned much about myself through experimentation with different types of meditation. I have found that long sittings – for over 90 minutes – seem to affect my thinking, emotions and behaviour in ways never experienced by me before. That aroused my curiosity. What would happen if I tried meditating for long hours every day? The following are the changes I have experienced from meditating for 3 hours a day for 4 weeks:

Less reactivity: mediating for long hours has allowed me to experience serenity in a natural way. Negative emotions come and go in short waves. Because their intensity has become much lower, they have become more tolerable.

Fewer negative thoughts: there is a time during a long sitting when my mind becomes completely quiet. Thoughts about the future and reassessment of past events are replaced by a sense of being in my mind and body, often felt as one. At times, I also feel that sense of unity with the environment. After a practice is over and in between practices, negative thoughts seem to continue to lose their power. They occur less frequently and seem irrelevant when noticed.

Better concentration: due to decreased emotional reactivity and greater emotional detachment, my brain feels less rigid and more plastic. As if meditation nurtured a cognitive state of flow. I seem to be able to retrieve, analyse, process and organise knowledge faster and with more ease.

More patience: living a slow-paced life makes perfect sense when practicing meditation for long hours. I am able to connect with my environment as if autopilot had been turned off. I drive more slowly and enjoy noticing my surroundings without feeling restless. I also take more time to listen to others without a burning need to say something.

Better sleep: for someone who has battled insomnia for most of her life, I welcome healthy habits that favour sleep. A 3-hour a day meditation practice has not cured my insomnia, but it has considerably improved my relationship with it. I no longer have strong negative reactions if I wake up in the middle of the night, so I go back to sleep a lot quicker.

More confidence: experiencing fewer negative thoughts and greater detachment from negative emotions has allowed me to see things more clearly. A calmer and more balanced approach to life has made me feel unashamedly intelligent, awake, tranquil, tolerant and mature.

Detachment from material goods: I feel no need to buy what I do not need.

Worry about “wasting time”: despite all the above, my inner critic still gives me grief about my 3-hour meditation practice. The more I stick to it, however, and enjoy its benefits, the less I care about the critic’s silly comments.

I do not know how long I will manage to keep this practice up, or if it will ever become a habit, but its effects have been undoubtedly positive.

4 signs of friendship burnout

4 signs of friendship burnout
Losing interest in the other is a sign of friendship burnout

Despite its severe connotation, friendship burnout is an actual thing. We are all susceptible to it, but recovering codependents, or people who find it hard to honour their boundaries, may experience it with greater frequency. Here are 4 signs of friendship burnout to increase your awareness of its effects on behaviour:

You feel exhausted: the relationship has become too intense and/or one-sided. You feel drained from spending too much time with your friend, even if they do not feel the same way. This can lead to a sense of overwhelm, especially when boundaries are not respected. You often feel guilty when saying no to your friend, and a sense of obligation to keep prioritising their needs.

You have lost interest: you struggle to connect with your friend in a way that feels pleasurable, meaningful, or rewarding to you. Your values, ideas and interests have changed and no longer match your friend’s. You start making excuses not to see them or worry about coming up with “good enough” reasons for not meeting up with them.

You have outgrown the friendship: you have grown and developed as a person, but your friend has not. As the current version of you no longer suits the friendship, you feel pressured to act inauthentically in order to maintain it.

You feel powerless: as you have changed, but the relationship dynamic has not, you feel a growing sense of pessimism about the future of the friendship. You consider expressing how you feel to your friend, but you feel hopeless about the outcome. As a result, you start fantasizing about reducing or even cutting contact.

If you have identified with the above, it is a good time to revaluate your friendship. While connecting with others can promote life engagement, dysfunctional relationships make us feel disconnected from our true selves. Consider taking a break from the friendship if it feels like too much hard work. Remind yourself that you are allowed to change your preferences and lead a balanced, peaceful life.

Finding happiness as a relational trauma survivor

Finding happiness as a relational trauma survivor
What is the key to happiness?

What role does happiness play in your life? Do you take it into consideration when making important decisions? How easily do you get distracted by what is going on outside of you and forget about your own happiness? Relational trauma survivors, as those who suffered emotional abuse in childhood are especially prone to neglecting their happiness to create a sense of harmony and safety with others. They often feel guilty for having wants, needs and emotions of their own and sacrifice them so not to risk upsetting others, being rejected and, consequently, alienated. Naturally, it proves a challenge to focus on what makes one happy when attention is constantly diverted to the irrational thoughts and fears of relational insecurity.

In Happiness by Design, professor of behavioural science Paul Dolan suggests that attention plays an important role on how happy we feel. When we consciously focus on what truly makes us happy – and not on what we think should make us happy – we live better, happier lives. That is because the information sensed and communicated by “the experiencing self” is much more accurate than that of “the remembering self” (Dolan, 2014). For all of those seeking happiness, connecting with experience as it happens and establishing right there and then whether its impact is positive or negative is the most reliable strategy. Relying on memory alone and our intellectualisation of how experience has affected us, however, tends to divert our attention from true, authentic happiness.

Therefore, relational trauma victims who value happiness can benefit from observing the following:

  • Be selective with your time and attention. Dedicate them to activities and people that make you feel good (light, cheerful, curious, energetic and lively). Reduce the frequency or cut contact with those who produce the opposite effect.
  • Stop relying on versions of events that minimize the negative effect that certain people and circumstances have on you.
  • Honour your body by holding values ​​that favour your wellbeing, from head to toe. Learn how to tolerate the discomfort that might arise from doing so, as an investment in long-term happiness.

While neglecting one’s happiness and focusing on others’ is often referred to as a noble and selfless act, it causes much unhappiness when practiced mindlessly by relational trauma victims. As challenging as it may seem, replacing such limiting mentality and living a full and happy life is an achievable goal for most of us. If you need help to heal your relational trauma wounds, I highly recommend Attachment-Focused EMDR therapy.

 

Reference:

Dolan, P. (2014). Happiness by design: change what you do, not how you think. New York, New York: Hudson Street Press.

Affirmations for moments of random anger and unwarranted rage

Affirmations for moments of random anger and unwarranted rage
Anger without a known trigger makes us feel even angrier

Anger, as most negative emotions, is not tolerated in our culture of emotional neglect. Although it is human and even healthy to feel anger, most of us struggle to accept it. Anger intolerance is even greater when we fail to connect it with specific events in our lives. Therefore, anger without a known trigger makes us feel powerless, lost, guilty, ashamed, hopeless and, at times, even angrier! To help you ground yourself in moments of random anger and unwarranted rage, read the following affirmations out loud or silently:

What I feel is normal

I am normal

I am strong enough to tolerate my anger

I am whole even when feeling angry for no reason

It is okay to feel anger even when it seems to lack context

This anger will pass because emotions ebb and flow

I am aware of my anger, and I do not blame others for it

I am aware of my anger, and I do not blame myself for it

I respect my emotions even when I am in pain

I honour all parts of myself

I accept the fact that my feelings do not need reasons to exist

I am safe in my anger

I can rely on myself even when I feel intense anger

I respect and love my body, regardless of my emotional state

I let go of toxic self-judgement in moments of anger

I am mindful of my emotional states

I can notice my anger without fully engaging with it

I feel stronger and more resilient when I learn from my anger

I am more than my anger

I am loved even when I am angry

I can overcome my anger

The best way to deal with anger is through acceptance. When you notice anger that does not go away easily, or that seems not to have an obvious reason to be, consciously and proactively let go of the need to control it. Take a break from your to do list and be kind to yourself. If you feel a burning need to be productive even in a state of anger, go for a run or channel anger’s energy into something positive, such as learning how to cope with it autonomously.

Nutrition psychology: what you eat affects your mental health

Our dietary choices have a direct effect on cognition, as well as on how we feel and behave. Growing research on the exciting new field of Nutrition Psychology has exposed the intrinsic relationship between nutrition and mental illness. Nutrition has been found to be not only a contributing factor to the development of mental illnesses, but also an important aid for its prevention and even management.

Nutrition psychology
Our dietary choices have a direct effect on cognition

In her book “This is your brain on food”, Dr Naidoo, a Nutritional Psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, lists baked goods, candy, soda, or anything sweetened with sugar or high fructose syrup, white bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta and anything made from refined flour, aspartame, French fries, fried chicken, fried seafood or anything else deep-fried in oil, as well as margarine, bacon, salami, sausage and other cured meats, as foods that make us unhappy and anxious. Those who are fighting depression and anxiety should eat high-fibre and aged, fermented, and cultured foods for their positive and calming effects on mood.

What you eat also interferes with the quality of your sleep. While caffeine and alcohol make it worse, foods that contain melatonin, such as eggs, fish, milk, rice, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables such as asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumber are said to help promote better sleep.

To fight fatigue, Dr Naidoo (2020) recommends eating foods rich in omega 3s, magnesium, zinc, vitamins B (1, 6, 9 and 12,), C, D and E, as well as colourful vegetables and spices, such as turmeric and black cumin.

Both Dr Naidoo and the clinical psychologist and researcher Julia Rucklidge (2017) agree that the Western Diet has a damaging effect on mental health. As a diet rich in bad fats, high-GI carbs and gluten, it is strongly connected to the expression of a variety of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and even schizophrenia, as well as weakened memory and decreased libido.

The mind gut connection can no longer be ignored by anyone concerned with their physical and mental/emotional wellbeing. For those who would like to improve their mental health but struggle to change their eating habits, having both psychological and nutritional counselling could help them address their goals from a more holistic and effective approach.

References:

Jacka, F.N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R. et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med 15, 23 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

Naidoo, U. (2020). This is your brain on food. Hachette Book Group: NY, New York.