Emotional Awareness ©

What you are aware of, you are in control of. What you are unaware of controls you.

Gene Barry


Following the end of a relationship, it is quite common for both people to feel the same as they did at the end of a previous relationship(s).  They can be confused and angry at themselves by what they have repeated, at what they promised themselves they would never do/say again and at what they permitted to be done/said to them again in a relationship.  The person most likely feels similar anger, blame, denial, disappointment, failure, fear, hurt, let down, loneliness, pain, shock and sorrow felt following the end of a previous relationship(s).


The success of a relationship, for both people, largely depends on how well they know themselves emotionally, including what emotions they feel and why. For example, if disappointment has been a feature of a person’s life, for whatever reason, then that person will most likely unconsciously accept disappointment in a relationship. Similarly, if a person has a feeling of unworthiness, they will most likely import their unworthiness into their relationship. When a person craves approval, they may interpret the other person’s approval as love. What has not been dealt with, our unfinished business, influences what we say and do, and what we don’t say and don’t do in a relationship.


How can a person become emotionally aware of a partner’s emotions, and their emotional needs when they are unaware of their own emotions?


Without emotional awareness, it can take a while to become aware of the similarities to our previous relationship(s), initially because we are with a different person, in a different place, doing different things, mixing with different people, having different conversations about different topics and falling in love with a different person. These similarities will be mostly emotional and habitual and will bring a level of fear to the relationship; fear to express how we really feel, what we are truly thinking, what we truly want, what we truly need, what we truly wish and hope for.  


A person who does not have emotional awareness may misinterpret an emotional hunger for love. For example, when a person who has experienced rejection in their family of origin feels that someone they really like accepts them, they may misinterpret this joy/euphoria driven by their craving for acceptance, as love. Similarly, a person who has experienced repetitive emotional conflicts may misinterpret similarly when a calm person accepts them.


Why is it that America, a country that has more information on websites, in books, in literature, on TV shows etc. advising couples how to achieve the perfect relationship/marriage and how to repair relationship problems has one of the highest rates of divorce and separations in the world? Information aimed at everyone has not been individualised and therefore may not be suitable for every person/couple. The combination of issues experienced in childhood, and in previous relationships are unique to that person and therefore a unique approach to resolution is best for that person. What you are aware of, you are in control of and what you are unaware of controls you and this is most important with regards to our emotional awareness. To understand ourselves in a relationship, we must first of all be capable of understanding how and why we feel and how and why we think the way we do. Emotional awareness is the crucial ingredient for a happy, healthy life and a happy, healthy relationship.


When we begin to form a relationship, we tag on to that relationship our mostly unconscious anxieties, avoidances, beliefs, certainties, demands, expectancies, fears, inabilities, judgements, misunderstandings, pleasantries, values and wishes we had previously used to evaluate and survive our wellbeing and safety in our childhood. Most likely, our new boyfriend/girlfriend has done something similar, with similar or different baggage that can eventually direct the couple to develop love and commitment, or perhaps distrust and fear. The anaesthetic we take during the falling-in-love period, coupled with the euphoria can mask these realities and our realisations will only arrive after the anaesthetic has worn off. How often has it been said to a friend when discussing their new partner 6 months into their relationship, I can’t tell her/him now, what would he/she think of me!


Emotional Awareness Coaching

An emotional awareness of how and why you feel is the goal in Emotional Awareness coaching. It is only when you arrive at this place, that you can truly become aware of your needs and of how to express them without fear in a relationship.  Emotional awareness will also enable you to become aware of your partner’s emotions and therefore will enable you to support your partner emotionally.

 

Emotional Awareness Course for Teens

What you are aware of, you are in control of. What you are unaware of controls you.

Gene Barry


The Emotional Awareness Course for Teens is a 2 hour weekly course that runs for 6 weeks. The objective of this course if to enable teens to become aware of their emotions and to know how to control them. The teens attending will also become aware of their thinking patterns, how they are affected by them and how to rid of negative thoughts. In other words, the objective of this course is for the teens attending to feel calm, happy and peaceful in all aspects of their lives. For bookings and information call 022 46618.


Everyone has some degree of emotional intelligence. Some people are naturally very emotionally intelligent, while others may find that at least some of the time, emotions become overwhelming and interfere with their communication and relationships and lead them to say or do something they later regret. For some people, these difficulties can be persistent and cause major problems at school. Many studies have found that higher emotional intelligence, more than academic ability, has been shown to improve lifelong physical and mental health and can also make it more likely that a person will succeed in school and in the workplace. Self-awareness can play a key role in EQ, however being aware of the emotions of other people is also important.

Much of what teens do online releases dopamine into the brain's pleasure centres, resulting in obsessive pleasure-seeking behaviour. The user-friendly software in a devise you are using means that it is easy for you to understand and use. However, the workings of many of today’s social media apps result in addictiveness. Is it possible that internet companies are hijacking neuroscience to gain market share and make large profits? Are social media companies creating an obsession, and then exploiting it? Gaming companies talk openly about creating a compulsion loop.


The compulsion to continually check social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Email, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter etc. on smartphones is driven in some cases by dopamine releases that occur in anticipation of receiving good news. It also causes anxiety due to fear of what you may have missed, have been excluded from, have been included in that you did not want to be part of, seeing something shocking, not getting the likes you anticipated, receiving negative comments etc. The growing influence of social media on Irish teens’ self-esteem results in almost half of them “always or sometimes” feeling disappointed if they don't get a response quickly after they have posted.


A study published in the Irish Medical Journal suggested that Social Networking Site (SNS) usage amongst Irish teenagers poses significant dangers, which are going largely unaddressed. The study found that 33% of users thought they spent too much time using SNSs, 40% had tried to spend less time using SNSs, and 40% found it difficult to resist SNSs. 


The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland, a report published by the RCSI in 2013, illustrated the scale of anxiety for young Irish people. The research, conducted by Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan Group, found that approximately one in eight young adolescents had experienced an anxiety disorder. This report also found that by the age of 24, one in four had experienced either a mood or anxiety disorder.


The scale of anxiety has been described as a silent epidemic by experts. Dr Harry Barry, whose Flagging series of books covers anxiety, phobia and depression, recounts the principal of a large Dublin school telling him that, the single greatest problem in our school is the extraordinary level of anxiety. Dr Barry says there are many schools who maintain special rooms during exams to cater for students worried about panic attacks.


“As much as they would like to think otherwise, the teenage brain is not good at multitasking. Having a constant stream of messages and updates arriving on their smartphones is a major distraction to students trying to study.”

Luke Saunders

Founder of Studyclix  

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Studies have shown that over 50% of Irish teen are addicted to their mobile phones, and like all addictions this leads to problems for them. Nomophobia, the fear of being without your mobile phone leads to a form of anxiety disorder. ​

Anxiety is our mind and body's natural reaction to a threat or danger and is most often referred to as our Fight or Flight response. When our brain interprets a harmless situation as something dangerous, our body becomes unbalanced and resorts to automatic defence mechanisms, paralysing us and making us more vulnerable. Our body then releases hormones such as adrenaline, which in turn results in physiological reactions occurring in our body. Anxiety can lead to depression, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, stress, migraines, nausea, nervousness, phobias and queasiness.


In June 2017, health researchers at DCU's School of Health and Human Performance found that the ability of children to master basic tasks is not meeting developmental milestones for fine motor skills. Their research also revealed showed that 36% of 11-12-year-olds are below average in tasks such as drawing shapes and sorting cards.


In April 2017, the results of a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Pisa (OECD) revealed that almost two thirds of Irish students interviewed said that even when well prepared for an exam, they suffered from anxiety. This Irish statistic is indeed worrying as it is almost 20% higher than the OECD average.

Anxiety is the greatest obstacle for teenagers today. A survey carried out by the Irish Examiner and published in March 2017 showed that if they were having emotional problems, 67% of the teens surveyed said that they would not go to their GP, 65% said they would be unlikely to go to the school counsellors, 56% said they would not go to a counsellor and 39% said they would turn to family. 


A further 43% of the young people surveyed stated that social media was causing them difficulties in their lives.

Almost 75% of the teens surveyed said that the pressure to excel in exams, to be popular in school, and have the perfect body was causing them stress.


Statistics regarding other issues were:

  • body image 72%

  • friends 69%

  • family 63%

  • social media 43%

In a separate study carried out by Student Attitudes Index also in March 2017, almost half the children in Irish secondary schools said that they are addicted to smartphones with even greater numbers admitting to routinely and secretly checking devices in class.

This study also revealed that 53 per cent of girls in sixth year do not participate in PE classes at all, compared to just 15 per cent in second year. Stressing about exams remains the students’ biggest worry with 70 per cent identifying exams as the most stressful thing in their lives.

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry