Have you ever been told that you don’t handle emotions well?  Perhaps you’ve noticed that when someone is crying or shouting, you don’t know what to do and you feel very uncomfortable.  You may even feel like you need to escape or get out of the situation – even if the person isn’t yelling at you.

If strong emotions kind of freak you out, you’re not alone.  Our Tampa anxiety therapists know that there are many reasons that strong emotions are difficult.  We’ve put together some ideas that may help you better understand your anxious responses.

The Emotion May Be a Trigger

Maybe in your past experience, strong emotion meant that your environment was about to become unsafe. This could be physically threatening, or there might have been a pattern of abandonment or a withdrawal of love when someone was showing sadness, anger, or something else.

When you feel unsafe, your fear response is activated and can be demonstrated through anxiety.  Your anxiousness (or fear) may look like:

  • Fighting
  • Shutting down
  • Avoiding
  • People pleasing

These are natural reactions when your brain is perceiving that you might not be safe. If any of this looks familiar, rest assured that your Tampa anxiety therapist can help.

You Don’t Know What to Do

Many people feel overwhelmed by strong emotions because they feel like they’re supposed to do something to help, but they don’t know where to start.  This sense of responsibility can occur with those who were made to take on a caretaker role in their family or community, often as a child.  This will typically result in patterns of codependence, leaving you feeling responsible for another adult’s well-being.

It’s ok if you don’t know what to do.  It’s not your job to fix it. You can let yourself off the hook for that.

There May Be Relational Wounds

 If you’re noticing that your anxious response to strong emotion is occurring in one particular relationship, then that may be a sign that the relationship is not emotionally safe.  However, this may also be a result of attachment injuries in the past that are rearing up in the present.  You might fear that when your partner is angry, they will decide to leave you because that’s what your parents did.  You could be conditioned to believe that if you don’t fix their sadness then something bad will happen (because that’s what your caregivers taught you).  You may be worried that if you don’t do the RIGHT thing, then you will cause irreparable harm.

Whatever the origin or outcome of your reaction to strong emotions, our Tampa anxiety therapists can help you understand and manage your anxiety.  We work to help you develop realistic strategies to cope with the anxious response – and to help you develop compassion for yourself within it.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.  We are on your side.