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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman

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Core Emotions That Run Your Life and How to Manage Them

boy hiding leaves

According to Dr. Jonice Webb (Psychologist and author of one of my favorite personal growth books, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect), “A Core Feeling is the one emotion that you experienced the most often, or intensely, growing up. It becomes embedded in the software of your brain. As an adult, this feeling is very real, and can at times be very strong.”

What brings out core emotions?

It could be shame, fear, sadness, loneliness, etc. We don’t feel it every day as an adult but it is there waiting to surface. It often shows up when we are alone, undistracted or stressed. Certain events will activate it. This core emotion or feeling sounds a lot like our attachment style behavior. When we are stressed or in conflict or lonely, we react insecurely. Our insecure attachment and our core emotions flare up when our defenses are lowered or piqued.

I’ve mentioned one of my core emotions is a fear of being alone and unprotected. I grew up with great parents who tried their best, but they were divorced and often pre-occupied with the rigors of keeping their heads above water financially and caring for a household and its occupants. My sister and I competed and fought for our parents’ attention and resources. My parents did not have the time or skills to help me work through my feelings. My sister preyed on any sign of weakness, so I did not feel safe sharing my sadness or stress with her. I developed the belief that I had to take care of myself and handle all of my issues, including my painful emotions around being alone and overlooked.

We manage them in unhelpful ways

I brought these beliefs and feelings with me into my adult relationships. When I started to get overwhelmed by my duties as a parent and wife, the core emotions slipped out. I felt alone again. I tried to turn to my husband (at the time), to ask him to help relieve the loneliness and overwhelm. The trouble was, my ex-husband did not know how to handle these emotions either. He had been taught to stay busy, achieve and bury emotions.

couple stoic

I stuffed the feelings for a while and marched on as a suburban mom. I looked to outside sources to make me feel better — guitar lessons, new friends, research into spiritual practices, rigid fitness routines, etc. Now, these outside source were not a complete waste of time. I learned a lot about myself and the world from them. In a way, they made me strong enough to handle processing the tough emotions. I needed to face those feelings because avoiding feelings (and actions for that matter) only makes them bigger and stronger and more difficult to manage.

It wasn’t until years later, that I learned I had to face and process these fears and emotions. I went through my divorce without actually processing them.

I had to fail at a few more relationships, including one with my child, before I truly felt the emotions at my core and  began to process their messages.

What I have learned from my experience and Dr. Webb is that we must complete a few steps to manage our core emotions. I have listed them below.

Steps to Managing Our Core Emotions

Feel it or them: Instead of stuffing them down or distracting ourselves so much that we don’t feel the discomfort of these painful emotions, we have to face them and feel them. This means when we get that overwhelmed or sad or lonely feeling, we have to sit with it and let it wash over us. The good news is it will pass, if we let ourselves feel it fully. It is OK to cry or get angry. It is OK to need rest and time to process. I realize our lives are busy and taking time to process these feelings is not easy, but trust me, if you do not feel these emotions, they will erupt somehow in a more destructive manner.

Know when it/they strike: It is important to be conscious of when and with whom these old feelings surface. Is it when we have money issues? A lot of old pain relates to money scarcity. Is it when a relationship becomes serious? This is common too. Is it when we feel overloaded with work? There are limitless possibilities.

What story does it give me about myself? Why did I feel this way as a child? How does it affect me now? These questions lead us to our personal narrative. What stories do we tell ourselves repeatedly? How based in reality are they? If we can see how our past feelings come through in the present, we can heal.

Complete the narrative: Our stories are not complete. They will be written and re-written until we die. When we feel the emotions, we see how the past and present are connected and share this story with others, we process it more fully. We give the story resolution, an arc. For example, when we share with our partners how we developed these feelings as a child, we give them insight into our behavior. We aid the growth in our relationship. Growth is the ultimate result of processing these emotions.

Relationship challenges become easier

The relationship I am in now, benefits from the processing I have done around my core emotions and attachment style. It is still challenging, but easier to understand and work on. We have a chance to find relief and resolution when we struggle because we can express these feelings and understand their origins. I encourage all of you to take the time to consider your core emotions and how they affect you and your relationships.

 

What are your core emotions? What prompted them in your childhood? How and when do they surface now? 

Photo by Desatboy . on Unsplash

Strengthening Connection

If you are interested in other ways to improve your relationship connection, check out my online course, it’s titled: How to Strengthen Connection Within a Relationship: Increasing Safety and Security to Create Closeness. I wanted to share it with you, my faithful readers. Please check it out. There are two lectures available as free previews, including the intro/overview. The lecture on receptivity is also available for preview if you scroll down in the course curriculum.

Inside the course, you’ll find lectures on attachment styles, working with insecurities, conflict styles, responsiveness, soothing and comforting each other and much more. There are exercises, mini-scripts and related posts. I tried to give lots of examples during the lectures.:)

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