What Are Emotions? Understanding & Regulating Feelings

Research suggests that emotions play a crucial role in shaping our experiences and behavior in daily life and they play a BIG role in how we show up in relationships. Emotions are psychological states that involve subjective feelings, physiological changes, and behavioral responses. They can be triggered by various internal and external factors, including events, people, and circumstances. At PIVOT, we don’t view emotions as good or bad.

Emotions Are Important In Daily Life For Several Reasons

First, they help us interpret and respond to our environment. Basic emotions provide us with valuable information about the world around us, enabling us to identify and respond appropriately to different situations. For example, feeling fear in response to a perceived threat can prompt us to take action to protect ourselves, while feeling joy in response to positive news can motivate us to pursue further opportunities for happiness and connection.

Second, basic emotions are a fundamental aspect of human communication. They allow us to express ourselves and convey our thoughts, feelings, and intentions to others. For instance, we can use facial expressions, vocal intonation, and body language to communicate our emotions to others, helping to build social connections and build relationships.

Third, emotions are closely tied to motivation and goal-directed behavior. The desire to experience certain emotions, such as happiness or love, can motivate us to pursue particular activities or goals.

Conversely, the avoidance of what some perceive as negative emotion, such as anger, can also drive our behavioral responses and decision-making.

The truth is anger, fear, guilt, etc., are not necessarily negative emotions.

For example, anger can prompt us to have crucial conversations. At PIVOT, we call these invitations to communicate effectively so people don’t just make quick decisions that can affect them long term.

As stated above, fear can prompt us to take action to protect ourselves and those we love.

Guilt can prompt us to lean into forgiveness and let go of what otherwise could lead to self-destructive behavior.

What’s the Difference Between Emotions and Feelings?

Emotions and feelings are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two.

Emotions refer to a complex psychological and physiological response to an external stimulus, such as an event, a person, or a situation. Emotions are typically short-lived and automatic, and they often involve physical sensations, such as increased heart rate, sweating, and changes in facial expression.

For some, emotions can hijack your nervous system and take you full force into an emotional storm that can wreak havoc in relationships if not managed and tolerated in the given moments.

Feelings, on the other hand, are more subjective and often longer-lasting than emotions. They refer to the conscious experience of emotional states and can be influenced by personal beliefs, thoughts, and memories. Understanding feelings is essential for self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Unlike emotions, feelings are not always linked to a specific event or stimulus, and they can be triggered by internal as well as external factors.

What are Examples of Some Emotions and Their Definitions?

  1. Happiness – Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure decidedly predominates over pain
  2. Sadness – Experiencing loss/sorrow 
  3. Anger – A strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence brought on by something bad
  4. Fear – Impending danger
  5. Disgust – To cause extreme dislike
  6. Surprise – Sudden feeling of astonishment
  7. Love – Affection for another person
  8. Joy – Great delight
  9. Excitement – To arouse or stir up
  10. Guilt – A sense of wrongdoing

The experience of responses that are emotional is a human characteristic that occurs in reaction to specific events or situations. Major emotions, which include primary emotions, play a significant role in these emotional experiences. The emotional experience that people have in being on the receiving end of these specific events or situations can cause reactions that create connection and also create confusions and conflict.

For instance, people may experience great joy, a major emotion, when receiving positive news, or feel fear, another major emotion, when faced with a threat. The influence of major emotions is significant in shaping daily life, including decision-making processes that are influenced by one’s level of joy or anger.

Often, the motivation behind a particular activity is the emotion it elicits, especially when it comes to major emotions.

Therefore, comprehending emotions, particularly major emotions, is vital for navigating life in a more composed manner. These can be broadly categorized into three categories: primary, secondary, and mixed emotions.

Primary or Basic Emotions

Primary emotions are considered the fundamental or basic emotions that all human beings experience. These emotions include happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. Primary emotions are considered universal, meaning they are expressed and recognized across cultures and languages.

They are closely related to behavior, as they can influence the way individuals act and react in various situations. These basic emotions are typically automatic and immediate, and they can trigger physiological and behavioral responses that help individuals respond to different situations.

Here are some examples basic emotions:

  • Fear can trigger a “fight or flight” response, causing individuals to either confront the source of the fear or flee from it.
  • Anger can motivate individuals to take action in response to a perceived injustice or threat.
  • Happiness can encourage individuals to engage in activities that promote well-being and pleasure.

Primary emotions can also influence social behavior, as they are often communicated through facial expressions, vocal intonation, and body language.

For instance, a smile is a universal expression of happiness, while a furrowed brow is a common expression of anger or concern. Facial expressions are often misunderstood. Like a furrowed brow might just be a feeling of confusion for some. However, there are common expressions, vocal intonations, and body language that are indeed universal.

Moreover, primary emotions can influence decision-making and problem-solving by shaping an individual’s priorities and preferences.

For instance, a person experiencing intense feelings of fear may prioritize finding safety over other concerns, while a person experiencing joy may prioritize pursuing activities that bring them pleasure.

Secondary or Complex Emotions

Secondary emotions, also known as complex emotions, are a blend of primary emotions. Examples of secondary emotions include guilt, shame, envy, and jealousy. These emotions involve a more complex cognitive appraisal of a situation, such as evaluating the fairness of a situation or judging the actions of oneself or others.

Unlike primary emotions that are often automatic and instinctive, secondary emotions require a more complex cognitive appraisal of a situation and involve a deeper level of introspection.

Complex emotions can play a significant role in behavior by influencing decision-making, problem-solving, and social interactions.

For example, guilt and shame are secondary emotions that are associated with a sense of responsibility or accountability for one’s actions. These emotions can motivate individuals to make amends, apologize, or take corrective action to rectify a situation.

Similarly, envy and jealousy are secondary emotions that are often associated with social comparison and competition. These emotions can motivate individuals to strive for success or work harder to achieve a particular goal.

However, complex emotions can also have negative effects on behavior.

For instance, excessive guilt or shame can lead to self-blame, low self-esteem, and at times, severe self-destructive behavior. Jealousy or envy can lead to resentment and interpersonal conflicts.

Mixed Emotions

Mixed emotions refer to the experience of two or more primary or secondary emotions simultaneously. For example, a person may feel happy and sad at the same time, such as when attending a bittersweet event like a graduation or a funeral. Mixed emotions can also occur when there is conflict between primary or secondary emotions, such as feeling both anger and guilt after having an argument with a loved one.

Mixed emotions can influence behavior in a number of ways.

For example, mixed emotions can lead to indecision or uncertainty, as individuals may struggle to prioritize or balance conflicting emotions. They can also lead to a sense of emotional turmoil or inner conflict, which can be distressing or unsettling.

Mixed emotions can also influence social behavior by shaping communication and interpersonal relationships.

For example, when individuals experience mixed emotions during a conversation, they may have difficulty expressing themselves clearly or empathizing with the other person’s perspective. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

However, mixed emotions can also have positive effects on behavior.

For example, when individuals experience mixed emotions in response to a challenging or complex situation, it can lead to more nuanced thinking and problem-solving. And, great conversations if both individuals have a higher level of emotional intelligence.

Mixed emotions can also lead to greater empathy and understanding in social relationships, as individuals learn to navigate conflicting emotions and perspectives.

What is Emotional Regulation?

Emotional regulation refers to the ability to effectively manage and modulate one’s emotional responses in different situations. It involves the capacity to recognize and understand one’s own basic emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and to respond in a way that is appropriate and adaptive.

Emotional regulation involves a range of cognitive and behavioral strategies that can be used to manage emotions, including reappraisal, distraction, suppression, and problem-solving. For example, individuals may use reappraisal to reframe a situation in a more positive light, or distraction to shift their attention away from a negative stimulus.

Effective emotional regulation is important for mental health and well-being, as it can help individuals to reduce stress and anxiety, improve social relationships, and make informed decisions. Conversely, poor emotional regulation can lead to negative outcomes such as emotional dysregulation, interpersonal conflicts, and impaired decision-making.

Emotional regulation can be developed and improved through various techniques such as mindfulness meditation, the PIVOT Process, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other forms of psychotherapy.

With practice, individuals can learn to regulate their emotions effectively and respond to situations in a way that promotes their overall health and well-being.

Importance of Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is crucial for our mental and physical health and well-being.

Here are some reasons why emotional regulation is important:

  1. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Emotionally regulating our responses to stressors can help us reduce our levels of stress and anxiety. This can, in turn, improve our physical health and lower our risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
  2. Improved Relationships: Emotionally regulated individuals tend to have more positive relationships with others. They are better equipped to manage interpersonal conflicts and communicate effectively with others, which can lead to more fulfilling and supportive social relationships.
  3. Better Decision Making: Emotionally regulated individuals are better equipped to make informed decisions. They are less likely to make impulsive decisions based on their emotions, and are better able to think critically and problem-solve effectively.
  4. Enhanced Cognitive Functioning: Emotional regulation can improve our cognitive functioning, including our attention, memory, and reasoning skills. This can improve our overall academic and occupational performance.
  5. Improved Mental Health: Effective emotional regulation can reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. It can also improve the outcomes of mental health treatment for those who do experience such disorders.

Techniques For Emotional Regulation

Techniques for emotional regulation are cognitive and behavioral strategies that can be used to manage and modulate these responses in different situations.

Here are some examples of techniques for emotional regulation:

  1. Mindfulness: Being present in the moment and accepting our emotions without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can learn to observe their emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them.
  2. Cognitive Reframing: This involves challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and our situations. This can help us to reframe our perspective in a more positive or realistic way, reducing negative emotional responses.
  3. Deep Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths to calm the body and reduce physiological arousal. This can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  4. Problem-Solving: These techniques involve identifying and addressing the underlying causes of negative emotions. By developing effective problem-solving skills, individuals can reduce the likelihood of experiencing negative emotions in the future.
  5. Social Support: This is about seeking out and connecting with supportive individuals in our lives, such as family members, friends, or mental health professionals. This can provide a sense of validation and connection, reducing negative emotional responses.
  6. Physical Exercise: This has been shown to have a positive impact on emotional regulation. Exercise can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It involves being able to use emotional information to guide thought and behavior, and to communicate effectively with others in a variety of social situations. Emotional intelligence is an important aspect of personal and social competence, and can be developed and improved with practice and self-reflection. Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence are often more successful in their personal and professional lives, and are better able to manage stress, build strong relationships, and navigate complex social situations.

Our #Healthy Adult process that we help people pivot into is a great example of how learning how to manage and tolerate your own feelings and know how to navigate the landscape of emotions can create a higher level of emotional intelligence. This process is unique to each of you and based on your personal and family of origin storyline.

The Importance Of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important aspect of personal and social development, and has a range of benefits for individuals in their personal and professional lives.

Here are some of the key reasons why emotional intelligence is important:

  1. Better Communication: Emotional intelligence allows individuals to communicate more effectively with others. By understanding and managing their emotions, individuals are better able to express themselves in a clear and appropriate manner, and to understand and respond to the emotions of others.
  2. Stronger Relationships: Emotional intelligence can help individuals build stronger, more positive relationships with others. By being attuned to the emotions of others and responding in an empathetic and compassionate way, individuals can establish trust, build rapport, and create deeper connections with those around them.
  3. Improved Conflict Resolution: Individuals with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to manage conflicts and navigate difficult interpersonal situations. By understanding their own emotions and the emotions of others, they can communicate more effectively and find solutions that are mutually beneficial.
  4. Greater Resilience: Emotional intelligence can help individuals cope with stress and adversity. By understanding and managing their emotions, individuals can develop greater resilience and adaptability, and can bounce back more quickly from setbacks and challenges.
  5. Increased Success: Emotional intelligence is an important predictor of success in many areas of life, including personal relationships, education, and the workplace. Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence are often more successful in their careers, more effective leaders, and better able to achieve their goals.

Strategies For Developing Emotional Intelligence

There are a number of strategies that individuals can use to develop their emotional intelligence.

Here are some of the most effective:

  1. Self-reflection: Developing emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. By reflecting on your own emotions, triggers, and reactions, you can begin to understand your own emotional patterns and learn to manage them more effectively. This can be challenging for some individuals who are feeling an overwhelming sense of unworthiness and neglect. PIVOT coaching can help with this.
  2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help you become more present and aware of your thoughts and emotions. This can help you develop greater emotional self-awareness and learn to manage your emotions more effectively. Meditation can be challenging for some and there are some great free apps available that can help you begin with only 5-10 minutes a day!  Yoga and walking outdoors are also excellent options.
  3. Active Listening: Active listening involves paying close attention to what others are saying and responding in an empathetic and supportive way. By practicing active listening, you can improve your ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others.
  4. Empathy: Developing empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding their perspective and emotions. By practicing empathy, you can build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively with others. It is hard to find empathy when someone is feeling betrayed. We can help with this.
  5. Managing Stress: Learning to manage stress and develop greater resilience is an important part of emotional intelligence. Strategies for managing stress include exercise, relaxation techniques, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Life experiences can bring about many feelings of stress. Financial fear, parenting, health, and the list goes on. Getting help with a PIVOT coach to understand and create a plan to help make your life more manageable can be a tremendous help in managing stress.
  6. Seeking Feedback: Seeking feedback from others can help you understand how your emotions and behavior are perceived by others, and can help you identify areas for improvement.
  7. Continuous Learning: Developing emotional intelligence is an ongoing process. By seeking out opportunities for personal and professional development, such as PIVOT coaching, you can continue to build your emotional intelligence over time.

Summary of Key Points on Emotions

  • Emotions are complex psychological and physiological responses to internal and external stimuli.
  • Primary emotions are universal, innate, and biologically-based, while secondary and mixed emotions are more complex and depend on individual experiences and interpretations.
  • Emotions play a crucial role in our daily lives, influencing our thoughts, behavior, and decision-making.
  • Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and control our emotions in a healthy and productive way, and is important for mental and physical well-being.
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and is associated with greater success in personal and professional relationships.
  • Strategies for developing emotional intelligence include self-reflection, mindfulness, active listening, empathy, stress management, seeking feedback, and continuous learning.

Recap on Understanding Emotions and Emotional Responses

Emotions and their responses can have a number of implications in our personal and professional lives.

Here are some of the key implications:

  1. Improved communication: Understanding emotions can improve our ability to communicate with others. By recognizing and responding appropriately to the emotional signals of others, we can build stronger relationships and resolve conflicts more effectively.
  2. Better decision-making: Emotions play a significant role in our decision-making, and understanding our emotional responses can help us make better decisions. By recognizing and managing our emotions, we can make more rational and objective choices.
  3. Enhanced self-awareness: Understanding these responses can lead to greater self-awareness, which can help us understand our strengths and weaknesses and make positive changes in our lives.
  4. Improved mental health: Emotional regulation is essential for good mental health. By understanding our emotions and developing healthy ways to manage them, we can reduce stress and anxiety and improve our overall well-being.
  5. Greater success in relationships: Emotional intelligence is associated with greater success in personal and professional relationships. By understanding and responding appropriately to the emotions of others, we can build trust, resolve conflicts, and create stronger connections.
  6. Better leadership: Emotional intelligence is also associated with effective leadership. Leaders who understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of their team members, are better able to motivate and inspire others, build strong teams, and achieve organizational goals.

Final Thoughts on Emotions

In summary, emotions are complex psychological and physiological responses to internal and external stimuli that play a crucial role in our daily lives. They influence our thoughts, behavior, decision-making, and relationships.

Understanding our emotional responses and developing emotional intelligence can have a number of positive implications, including improved communication, better decision-making, enhanced self-awareness, improved mental health, greater success in relationships, and better leadership.

It is important to note that developing emotional intelligence is an ongoing process that requires self-reflection, practice, and a commitment to continuous learning. It is also important to recognize that emotions can be difficult to manage and regulate at times, and seeking support can be helpful.

Overall, by embracing and understanding our emotions, we can lead healthier, more fulfilling lives and build stronger connections with those around us.

Where Can I Get Help With Managing And Tolerating My Positive and Negative Emotions?

Achieving emotional balance is not an easy thing to do. Fortunately, you can rely on experienced and committed professionals at PIVOT to help you gain a new perspective on your emotions and take steps towards healthy emotional management. Learning to feel, manage, and tolerate your feelings in the moment and respond, not just react is one of the many things we specialize in through our time tested and evidence based curriculum.

We offer individual coaching and one day personalized intensives, and 5 day retreats at the Glass House depending on how aggressively you would like to work on your personal growth. Be sure to also get a copy of our founder’s book on Amazon – #HealthyAdult. Get started today to achieve positive outcomes using our curriculum to build and maintain your emotional intelligence!

Top 10 Defense Mechanisms and Why We Use Them

We’ve all heard of defense mechanisms, but what exactly are they?

Defense mechanisms are the ways we deal with anxiety-provoking and stressful situations. They’re subconscious coping mechanisms that help us preserve an individual’s emotional stability and well-being. While they can provide temporary relief from anxiety and stress, relying on them too heavily can lead to negative consequences and prevent individuals from addressing the root cause of their anxiety.

At PIVOT, we call these Survival Patterns because often, many people will use defense mechanisms to manage and tolerate painful feelings.

For most people, defense mechanisms are spontaneous rather than involuntary. This means that they are driven by internal impulses or motivations, rather than external stimuli or physiological events. In other words, they are not necessarily controlled by external factors but instead arise naturally from within the individual as a response to anxiety or stress.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 most common defense mechanisms and see how they help us cope with anxiety and stress.

Defense Mechanisms


Denial is one of the defense mechanisms that involves refusing to acknowledge or accept reality or facts. This can involve ignoring, denying, or repressing unpleasant truths to attempt to reduce anxiety and stress.

Denial individuals to avoid or delay dealing with difficult emotions or situations. It can provide a temporary sense of relief and stability, but it can also have negative consequences in the long term. Keeping it “stuffed” in the body can produce long-term physical complications.

Consider an alcoholic. In social environments, they may use alcohol to feel more comfortable in situations that would typically make them anxious – knowing that drinking is not good for them. They may just tell themselves “I can quit any time and drinking now is no big deal”. Ignoring the fact that they just had a huge fight in front of their kids and told their partner that they would stop drinking. This is a form of denial. Meanwhile, their dependency to alcohol is increasing and their mental and physical health is degrading.

By ignoring or denying reality, individuals may be preventing themselves from facing and resolving problems, which can lead to further stress and anxiety.


Projection is a defense mechanism that attributes one’s feelings, thoughts, and motivations to another person or group. People who project often accuse others of having the same negative traits that they possess. Meaning, that if someone is feeling bad about themselves they might try to put that onto someone else by criticizing them. 

An example of projection could be a person who feels guilty about lying to their partner and accuses their partner of being untruthful, even though there’s no evidence to support this claim. The person is unconsciously projecting their guilt onto their partner to avoid accepting responsibility for their behavior.


Rationalization is a defense mechanism where people offer explanations or excuses to justify their behavior even though those explanations are not necessarily true.

For example, a person who is late for work because they decided to go to bed very late, blames traffic and everything else under the sun. They may use these examples to distort reality and avoid being accountable for being to work on time. Because being late to work for illegitimate reasons could be perceived natively by others, the individual continues this cycle. And, in the long run, will typically feel bad about not telling the truth.


Displacement is a defense mechanism that allows individuals to release built-up emotions without risking relationships, reputation, or safety. It is a defense mechanism that helps individuals cope with anxiety and stress by redirecting their emotions to a less threatening and what happens to be a more safe target.

An example of this would be when Mark is triggered by his boss at work. Instead of lashing out in the moment, he redirects that frustration while driving his car and yells at another driver who is going too slow for Mark.


Regression is a defense mechanism that involves reverting to an earlier stage of development as a means of coping with stress and anxiety. When individuals are under stress, they may resort to behaviors that are characteristic of a younger or more immature developmental stage.

Examples of regression include crying, throwing tantrums, clinging to others, or engaging in behaviors that were once typical of childhood but are no longer developmentally appropriate.

Regression can provide a temporary sense of comfort and stability, allowing individuals to escape from the demands and pressures of adulthood. However, it is important to recognize that regression can have negative consequences in the long term.

People who use this coping skill typically have old unresolved trauma that has not been dealt with. The PIVOT process dives deep into helping people understand their developmental parts – that are still often very much alive today – and learn to talk healthier actions as opposed to habitual actions.

Reaction Formation

Reaction formation is a defense mechanism that involves developing attitudes and behaviors that are the direct opposite of one’s true feelings. This can involve acting friendly or positive towards someone or something that is disliked, as a way of hiding or masking those true feelings. By acting in a manner that is opposite to one’s true feelings, individuals can reduce the internal conflict that arises from having conflicting or unacceptable emotions. It can also harm relationships by creating confusion and mistrust, as others may not understand the true motivations and feelings behind an individual’s behavior.

An example of reaction formation can be: a manager is stressed and overworked. The manager may hide their true feelings of anger and frustration in the workplace associated with their direct boss, and instead, present a cheerful attitude at work. They may go out of their way to be helpful and quite friendly to their colleagues, even though they internalize feelings of being overwhelmed and resentful.

The manager behaves this way to avoid unpleasant emotions and present a positive facade. Over time, reaction formation can become an unhealthy habit and can impact one’s physical and emotional well-being.

At PIVOT, we could help this manager prepare for a critical conversation with their boss that would create connection and eliminate confusion without jeopardizing their job.


Sublimation is a defense mechanism that involves converting difficult or negative emotions into something more socially acceptable or productive. It allows individuals to express their emotions healthily and constructively, rather than resorting to destructive or harmful behaviors.

One example of sublimation is channeling anger into physical exercise. This allows individuals to release their negative emotions in a way that is healthy and socially acceptable. Other examples of sublimation might include channeling sexual impulses into creative endeavors, such as writing or art, or channeling aggressive impulses into more productive activities, such as working on a challenging project.


Intellectualization is a defense mechanism that involves using abstract concepts and theories to distance oneself from unpleasant emotions. It involves focusing on facts and information rather than feelings, as a way of coping with stress and anxiety.

This often can lead to a serious attachment style of avoidance. And, this can suppress feelings so far down, that emotional intimacy is difficult to have in a relationship.

For example, a person who is grieving the loss of a child might intellectualize their emotions by focusing on the scientific or philosophical aspects of death, rather than their personal feelings of sadness and loss. This would create distance from their other children and partner because there would be no room for expressing their grief or having empathy for the other family members.


Avoidance is a defense mechanism where individuals avoid certain situations, people, or activities that are associated with unwanted thoughts or feelings.

This defense mechanism can help to reduce anxiety in the short term and it can also prevent individuals from facing and overcoming their fears in the long term. People may use fantasy as a means to avoid personal problems and escape from reality or gain a sense of control over difficult situations.

Avoidance can keep the individual from being seen, feeling connected, and loved.


Dissociation is a technique used by people consciously and subconsciously for centuries and has been recognized by mental health professionals and psychologists.

This phenomenon will occur as a means to avoid traumatic situations such as natural disasters, sexual abuse, motor vehicle accidents, combat experiences, or as a result of other unwanted thoughts. Dissociation can also exist as a symptom of various mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociative disorder.

Have you ever been overwhelmed, so much that you may feel threatened or experience difficult feelings, and thereafter be able to disconnect from them? Anecdotally, this could be a form of dissociation.

Why Do We Use Defense Mechanisms

Some defense mechanisms can be a TEMPORARY helpful tool for managing stress or difficult emotions. They can provide temporary relief from unpleasant thoughts or certain feelings and help to reduce anxiety in the short term. Additionally, defense mechanisms can help to reveal any underlying issues that may need to be addressed more directly.

By becoming aware of defense mechanisms, we can learn how to develop healthier coping strategies and create lasting change.

Excessive use of defense mechanisms can lead to long-term emotional problems and interfere with our ability to connect deeply with others and form meaningful relationships. If defense mechanisms are used as a way to avoid or deny reality, it can prevent us from effectively addressing difficult issues or developing healthy coping strategies. Additionally, defense mechanisms can create an unhealthy cycle where we rely on them instead of facing our uncomfortable emotions directly.

How to Know if You’re Using a Defense Mechanism

Defense mechanisms can be a useful tool for managing stress and anxiety when used in moderation. But when they’re overused or used in an unhealthy way, they can become problematic. This is why it’s important to be aware of the defense mechanisms you use and how they may be impacting your behavior.

Take a closer look at the ways you respond to challenging situations or stress. If you notice any repeated patterns, it might be worth exploring these further. If your defense mechanisms are causing more harm than good, seeking professional help from a therapist or mental health expert may be a good idea.

How Do You Break Defense Mechanisms?

Here are some useful tips for gaining control over your defense mechanisms:

  1. Be mindful of warning signs in your behavior and thoughts.
  2. Investigate your childhood and past experiences to gain insight into your actions.
  3. Avoid blaming others for your mistakes and situations.
  4. Take ownership of your thoughts and actions.
  5. Allow yourself to experience and process negative emotions, even if it means crying.
  6. Challenge yourself by consciously choosing the opposite response to your impulses.
  7. Incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your routine.
  8. Embrace your emotions rather than suppressing them.
  9. Consider seeking guidance from a relationship coach to develop healthier coping strategies.

When To Seek Professional Help With Your Defense Mechanisms

If these behaviors are becoming a problem or preventing you from addressing underlying issues and root causes of unhealthy behavior, it may be beneficial to get help from us.

At PIVOT, we offer relationship coaching services to help you identify the challenges that are getting in the way of you feeling good about yourself and the relationships in your life. We also help you build and maintain a healthy muscle to respond to those spontaneous impulses in a way that will protect you and the people around you using our evidence-based PIVOT process that has helped tens of thousands of individuals just like you.

Understanding Vulnerability: Is It a Choice?

If you were given a choice, would you choose to be vulnerable? Would you want to risk being physically or emotionally attacked and hurt? Most people presumably wouldn’t. So, being vulnerable for many feels like it’s too hard.  

The fundamental question is not precisely “How can I be vulnerable?”; it’s about how to express it without fear of rejection and enter into it in the healthiest way possible. Vulnerability has a critical role to play in human relationships. It helps us empathize with others and see things from their perspective.

Why Do I Fear Vulnerability?

Being aware that you’re not the only one that’s resisting it is important. Most people fear vulnerability, even those you’ve been hurt by in the past. This is a common human trait, and we’re all dealing with it in our own different ways, whether we’re aware of it or not. Some people may seem extraordinarily confident and strong, like nothing can catch them off-guard, and that’s usually a façade. Many hide their vulnerability deeply and avoid admitting to being hurt or sensitive at all costs.

Nonetheless, we must deal with ourselves first before we start dealing with others and the relationships we have with them. Clearly, the fear of vulnerability is closely related to the fear of rejection, belittlement, or abandonment. We might feel it makes us seem needy, unworthy, and less capable of dealing with life than people around us.

And if we think this badly about ourselves, what will others think? This type of thinking is common, yet deeply misguided. There’s a reason behind the vulnerability we all feel.

being vulnerable examples

Can You Learn To Be More Vulnerable?

Yes.  You can learn how to be more vulnerable and need to know how to deal with it. Expressing your vulnerability without fear and accepting the risk of being hurt is the true goal here.  Learning to be comfortable – being uncomfortable is key.

If you’ve already had the bad experience of opening up to the wrong people, you might think that being vulnerable and revealing your true feelings and thoughts can only backfire and ruin both your relationship with that person and your sense of self-worth.

People who don’t respond well to the vulnerability of others are often afraid of their own. It could serve as a mirror to them reflecting their own fears. Remember that many people are not prepared to dig through their pain and other feelings that make them feel ashamed, less than, not enough, etc. 

However, when it comes to your own journey, there are some steps you can take to become more open about your vulnerabilities:

  • Know yourself. Explore your feelings and fears and think about the things that cause you distress. You might not be aware of the underlying reasons behind them. Still, you can discover this with proper expert guidance or by taking the time to think or write about your vulnerabilities.
  • Ask for help. If you’re going through a rough patch, you might not be able to deal with revealing your vulnerabilities alone. Instead of isolating yourself and pretending everything’s fine, try to let some people in and let them know how you feel. If you need professional help, don’t be ashamed to admit it.
  • Be open about your feelings. This can be one of the most challenging steps – being completely honest about your fears and pain in front of another person. They might not have a solution for your issues, but the feeling of support can also be beneficial.
  • Share the moment. Don’t keep it all in while it’s happening. If you’re feeling hurt by somebody’s words or actions, let them know. Their response might surprise you. You may form a deeper bond with people that way and help them open up too.
  • Don’t forget about healthy boundaries. Not everybody’s equally prepared to accept their own or the vulnerability of others. Choose the right people to share your feelings with. If you’re getting a distressing response from someone, that’s probably not the right person.

Is Being Vulnerable A Choice Or A Trait?

Even though vulnerability is not a choice, and we’re all born with it, from a purely biological standpoint, being vulnerable doesn’t seem to make much sense. It exposes us to attacks and allows others to harm us physically and emotionally. So naturally, it makes it an uncomfortable choice for many. 

However, there’s an incredibly significant role vulnerability plays in our lives. It can help us form better and more meaningful relationships with others. Close, healthy relationships improve our physical and emotional well-being, enrich our lives and make us generally happier and more satisfied with ourselves. In addition, vulnerability helps us feel empathy; without it, fulfilling relationships with friends, family, partners, and children wouldn’t be possible.

Even looking at human babies it’s easy to conclude that, compared to some other primates, they’re much more helpless and dependent on others to survive. This is vulnerability in its purest form. It teaches us that it’s natural to depend on others and have others rely on us. Of course, this doesn’t apply only to babies. We are vulnerable in many other ways throughout our lifetime.

Allowing ourselves to be open about it can influence others to do the same. That way, we can be there for each other, both in challenging times and the good ones. Some of the more common examples of being vulnerable include:

  • Being honest and open about your mistakes and shortcomings.
  • Sharing things about yourself that you consider profoundly personal and usually keep private with the appropriate people.
  • Taking chances, even when they can lead to failure or rejection.
  • Allowing yourself to feel and express distressing emotions like fear, shame, or grief.
  • Being open and straightforward about what you want in a relationship, what you need to be happy, sharing your expectations, and setting boundaries you’re comfortable with.

Is It Better To Hide Your Vulnerability Or Not?

By accepting our vulnerabilities and finding ways to deal with them, we can use them to our own advantage. It’s a chance to better ourselves and improve our relationships with people who matter in our lives. We can serve as an example to those we care about and help them do the same.

If you choose to work on showing your vulnerability, you can achieve a sense of self-awareness that will, in turn, help you in ways that may be unexpected or seem counterintuitive. Vulnerability can:

 Most importantly, you will learn to love yourself by:

  • Embracing your mistakes.
  • Realizing that you’re important and worthy of love.
  • Stop feeling less deserving and constantly trying to prove yourself.
  • Accepting that no single person can satisfy all your needs, and you can’t do that for others either.
how can I be vulnerable

PIVOT Can Help You In Becoming Vulnerable And Learning To Deal With It In A Productive Way

Whatever you’ve been taught as a child or unpleasant life experiences, you can’t simply decide whether to be vulnerable or not. We all are – not to the same extent, of course.  So instead of suppressing your vulnerability, learn how to use it to make your life and relationships better. The benefits can be truly remarkable.

Embracing vulnerability, and sharing it with people, can help you embrace fulfilling relationships through mutual empathy. The small groups of our Glass House retreats are the perfect setting for exchanging your thoughts and feelings with others, with expert guidance from our PIVOT coaches.

Relationship Burnout: How To Recognize & Overcome It

What is your idea of a happy marriage or a long-term committed relationship? You’ll probably have an image of a couple that ticks all the boxes, with romantic feelings fading into the background, being replaced with a sense of certainty, security, and trust. However, as with many other things in life, there’s usually a challenge for the married couple that can lead them to question their feelings at some point. 

Have you experienced periods when you felt the need to back off or just wanted to give up? One way to approach such situations is to work on your relationship building skills by attending professionally-led workshops, and learning how to strengthen your bond and your individual potential. If you’re afraid that you’ve reached a point where you need to withdraw or take a break from your marital commitment, keep reading.

What Is Marriage Burnout?

In a very similar fashion to career burnout, marital or marriage burnout manifests as a period of intense psychological and physical draining and exhaustion. It is oftentimes the result of one of the partners providing love, care, and support, whereas not receiving the same amount of attention in return. It can also be an outcome of bitter conflicts and heated arguments between spouses, and general disappointment with how their relationship changed. It can be seen as a moment in your relationship when the excitement and jubilance of romantic love fade away, leaving room for feelings of resentment. It can also arise after a very stressful period 

Is Burnout In A Relationship Normal?

If you’re in a committed relationship that lasts a decade or longer, or you’ve gone through a stressful period with many changes, you’re likely to experience burnout at some point. It can be a perfectly normal reaction to an overwhelming situation. And, of course, it doesn’t mean that you need to split up and start living separate lives. If you do feel guilty for being exhausted or detached, it’s probably time to pose some questions. 

It could also serve as a wake-up call: a reminder to allocate time to care for your own needs, have an honest conversation with each other, listen carefully, spend some quality time together, and relieve yourself of the constant tension. However, you may need to discern whether you’re going through a passing phase or you’re becoming emotionally distant and neglectful

How Do You Know If You’re Emotionally Exhausted?

How Do You Know If You're Emotionally Exhausted?

When you’re going through a rough period as a couple, you can start feeling like you’re on the end of your wits. Although the symptoms may vary from one person to another, these are some of the signs of emotional exhaustion: 

  1. Loss of hope. You can feel hopeless about the future of your relationship, or have a general feeling of despair and uncertainty. 
  2. Lack of motivation. You may struggle to get into the mood to work, socialize, spend time together with your partner, do chores, and engage in hobbies.
  3. Sleeping problems. Some people experience the inability to fall asleep, others tend to wake up too early, which is a clear sign of stress and lingering worries. 
  4. General irritability. Although you could say that you feel fine, you can come across as nervous and on edge when approached by your partner or other people.
  5. Headaches. Sometimes, prolonged stress leads to painful physical symptoms, and you might develop chronic headaches, dizziness, or migraines. 
  6. Fatigue and lack of energy. Being emotionally exhausted means that you’ll feel physically drained as well. This will reflect in lowered energy levels and sleepiness
  7. Apathy. When you’ve invested your energy and emotions into your relationship, and were met with invalidation or neglect, you’re likely to act and feel apathetic and cynical.
  8. Absent-mindedness. You’ll probably have moments when your mind just wanders and you’re unable to focus or follow through with a conversation. 

Can I Feel Emotional Burnout After A Relationship Ends? 

If you went through a complicated and unexpected breakup, divorce, or separation, you can also experience burnout. You might be trying to cope with the effects of emotional trauma, and you need time to recover. The signs can include the following: 

  • You’re ambivalent or cynical about dating a significant amount of time after your breakup
  • You find little or no enjoyment in meeting potential romantic partners
  • You tend to have bad recollections of your former relationship or see it as meaningless, painful, or a waste of time.  

What Causes Relationship Burnout?

In terms of emotional investment, you can understand the burnout situation as an imbalance between what you’re giving and what you receive in return. There are, of course, other factors that can contribute to the feeling of emotional exhaustion: 

  • A failed expectation that your relationship will give a more profound meaning to your life
  • Unclear boundaries, lack of personal space or time for self-care
  • Cycles of repeated fighting, misunderstandings, and tension
  • Periods of work or family-related stress, and lack of support between partners
  • Boring or exhausting daily routines and incomplete assignments
  • Certain patterns of relationship addiction lead to outbursts of jealousy, resentment, and helplessness, burdening your partner, and it may cause you both to feel emotionally drained.

How Do You Fix Burnout In A Relationship?

How Do You Fix Burnout In A Relationship?

When you’re willing to work and salvage your marriage after an emotionally tense and exhausting period, you may first consider evaluating the issue. Look closely at how you feel and how long it has been bothering you. Whether you’re recovering from a period of intense fighting or trying to rekindle your marriage after a period of separation, these tips might be useful: 

Take Care Of Yourself

Be careful and mindful of your resources, of your physical and mental health, and devote time to work on your strengths and potential. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to build resilience to future challenges. 

Don’t Forget To Talk

Communication is key to resolving any difficult situation. Open and honest conversation, without putting blame on the other person, will shed some light on what path to take as a couple. This way you’ll be able to recognize where you are in your relationship, whether you’re bonding over trauma, and how to move forward. 

Practice Active Listening

Surely, you will be there to listen to what your partner has to say. However, don’t suppose that you understand everything and that you mean the exact same things. Try to carefully paraphrase what they said and openly ask “Have I understood you correctly?”. 

Confide In Each Other

Intimacy and confidentiality are some of the most important tenets of married life.  Some people tend to seek support from friends, family members, and their children when feeling emotionally drained. While it might be perfectly okay to have some type of support outside of your marriage, keeping your secrets from your significant other can create an atmosphere of mistrust. 

Be Honest About Your Needs

Try to be frank with yourself and your partner when talking about your needs, whether it’s more personal space, more quality time together, or whether you need more support in terms of sharing household and parental duties.  

Show Appreciation 

You may try to show that you appreciate your partner, not only in words. Showing that you truly care about each other despite the hurdles can help you overcome burnout and recharge your batteries. This way, if you reciprocate, you’ll show that you’re not taking each other for granted. 

Introduce Variety In Your Marital Life

If you’re feeling fed up and frustrated with some of your rituals, talk to your spouse and try to do something new and exciting, start a new hobby, find a new favorite place, try new food, break the routine, and surprise your spouse. 

Balance Excitement And Trust

To recover and rekindle your relationship after burnout, it’s best to find a fine balance between passion and excitement on one hand and trust, security, and commitment on the other. 

Who Offers Beneficial Couple Relationship Management Workshops For Married Couples And Individuals? 

When you’re ready to work on your relationship or marriage and PIVOT from your current situation, we can help you with our team of trained and dedicated relationship advocates. You can count on us to ensure you manage your separation or divorce anxiety and work on your personal growth or provide you with helpful tools to revive and put your relationship on a path of recovery. Whatever you choose, we’re here to provide supportive and experience-based coaching and retreat. 

How To Deal With Emotional Neglect In Marriage

Being in a relationship means taking on many commitments. Whether you’re happily engaged, married, or just started dating, you have the feeling that you’re doing things for each other effortlessly. You’ll probably go through this phase without having to give it too much thought.

However, what if you start feeling a sense of loneliness in your marriage? Although you feel that you respect, love, and cherish your significant other, it can come to a situation where you feel like something is missing. This can be a sense of longing or the mere realization that you’re no longer spending enough time together. This may mean that your partner has become emotionally detached.  

These may all be valid doubts, and many people turn to couple workshops for deepening relationships in order to find the answers to pressing issues. Read on to learn more about emotional neglect in long-term relationships and how to overcome it. 

Why Do I Feel Lonely In My Marriage?

Why Do I Feel Lonely In My Marriage?

While you might be familiar with the feeling of anxiety and loneliness among people in general, such feelings seem to be a bit out-of-place in a committed, romantic relationship. There can be several reasons why you or your spouse may feel neglected or forgotten by the other person: 

  • Childhood emotional neglect: This can be a traumatic experience that may follow you well into adulthood and can have severe effects on how you relate with other people and how you build relationships. Some adults who were emotionally neglected or deprived in childhood tend to seek partners who are to some degree emotionally detached or neglectful as well. 
  • Insecure attachment pattern: It usually involves having poor boundaries, unrealistic expectations, love addiction, and persistent fear of separation and abandonment. This can also be a result of earlier trauma and experiences in previous relationships. 
  • A recent traumatic experience: Trauma can create distance between you and your spouse, and open a number of unresolved questions. Psychological wounds need time and processing to fully heal, and this sometimes causes deeper bonding after the traumatic event, and sometimes shows us as withdrawal from your partner
  • You or your partner are trying to cope with emotional burnout: You can’t devote enough energy and time like before, despite the best intentions. This can be a way to recharge, so it’s probably best to talk it out and remain patient. 
  • Your partner is consciously or unconsciously ignoring your needs: They may be disregarding them as silly, immature, or “just too much”. If that is the case, you’re most likely dealing with emotional neglect. 

What Does Emotional Neglect Do To A Person?

Emotional neglect can be roughly defined as a situation in which the emotional needs of an individual are invalidated, overlooked, or disregarded by their significant other or parent. While verbal and physical abuse can be more or less obivous, emotional neglect is often not easy to identify and recognize. It doesn’t leave any visible bruises, at least not at first glance. 

It revolves around the absence of doing what is necessary and beneficial for the significant other, and it can reflect through: 

  • The feeling of low self-worth or poor self-esteem
  • Persistent feelings of emptiness
  • Disconnection from others
  • Guilt for not being able to trust other people

How Does Emotional Neglect Affect Attachment Relationships?

How Does Emotional Neglect Affect Attachment Relationships?

Relationships rely greatly on validation and support from each of the partners. If there’s emotional neglect in your marriage or long-term relationship, you are likely to have the following experiences:

  • You might feel abandoned by your partner
  • Your partner can seem absent-minded or shut down when you talk
  • You’re not socializing together anymore
  • You seek emotional support from your friends
  • You tend to consistently suppress your emotions
  • You don’t trust your significant other anymore
  • You have a tendency to procrastinate with big decisions in life
  • You have stopped being physically intimate as you used to

Can A Marriage Survive Emotional Detachment?

Sudden and unexpected emotional detachment can have harmful effects on your marriage. However, it all depends on other factors as well. Keep in mind that temporary emotional detachment is, in some cases, a way to overcome traumatic and stressful events in life. This withdrawal equips the person with more time and ability to process and give meaning to these events, allowing them to continue working on their relationship.

However, if the detachment carries on for too long and is combined with active avoidance, persistent invalidation of your emotional needs, or deliberate belittling of your attempts to discuss and approach your partner, you may have lesser chances to recuperate your marriage. Of course, you may try with the awareness that it might lead to a break-up, separation, or divorce

How To Cope With Emotional Neglect? 

When you’re completely sure that you’re having issues with emotional neglect in your long-term relationship or marriage, you may try to go step by step. Remember to take care of yourself, see what can be done about your relationship, and try some of the following tips: 

Be Patient

This is something that may be helpful as a reminder: getting your marriage back on track requires hard work, time, and patience. Before entering the whole process, remember that emotional neglect is a pattern that took years to develop, and can’t be resolved promptly. 

Examine Your Feelings And The Causes Of Their Behavior

Identifying the cause of the issue can help you receive some level of clarity and understanding. This will also help you to make constructive changes and plan out your next step. It might be useful to determine:

  • Whether your partner was neglectful from the beginning.
  • Whether they became neglectful after a while.
  • Whether their emotional investment in you was changing constantly, or abruptly.

Avoid Playing The Victim Card

Putting all the blame on the neglectful partner can seem appealing since the hurt is coming from their end. However, it’s a very unlikely way to resolve the issue. On the contrary, it will probably worsen the situation and push your partner even further away from you. Of course, it might be useful to talk openly about your feelings. However, don’t repeat that in each conversation. If you want to focus on fixing the problem and recuperating your relationship, it may be best to have constructive discussions. 

Stay Proactive 

Mirroring the detachment of your partner is probably not going to help. Also, keep in mind that some people don’t have good insight into their own patterns of behavior. This low self-awareness can furthermore lead them to further withdrawal, without realizing that they are hurting you in the process. If you know how to approach them without playing the guilt game, you’ll probably be able to make progress.

Discuss The Issue Constructively

Allocate time and energy for discussion and avoid situations when you feel irritable, tired, hungry, or generally unprepared. Despite the level of emotional hurt, it’s important to remain respectful towards each other and to avoid playing the blame game. Try to make it as constructive and solution-focused as possible. 

Be Gentle To Yourself

It may be useful to try to find ways and time to comfort yourself. This might be through relaxing activities, meditation, taking up new hobbies, and most importantly – fostering a positive self-image. While it may not bring you closer to your partner, it could provide you with more resources to recover from an emotionally stressful period or prepare you for single life, if it doesn’t work out in the end. 

Arrange For Quality Time Together

While your emotionally detached spouse might seem disinterested in spending any time with you, sometimes you need to check whether it’s actually everyday stress that’s giving them a hard time. Although it’s seemingly unfair, their detachment can serve as a well-established coping mechanism that helps them go through stress. If you pick an adequate context, you might find a way to rekindle the flame of your relationship and salvage it. 

Seek Professional Assistance

In the end, if you feel like you’ve depleted all your energy and tried all strategies, maybe it’s time to seek professional help. Of course, given that every relationship is different, you can expect different outcomes. It may help you get a better insight into your attachment pattern, identify underlying causes, and develop new ways to relate to your spouse. 

Where Can We Find A Beneficial Couple Workshop For Deepening Relationships?

When you aim to help your relationship survive a period of emotional neglect, go through various stages of separation, or PIVOT from your own insecurities and low self-worth, you can find a helping hand in our relationship advocates.  Whether you’re seeking to find common ground with your spouse and revive emotions in your marriage through our couple retreat or overcome the toll of ongoing relationship challenges in an individual setting, you can put your trust in our experienced coaching team. We have ample experience working with addictive relationships, so give us a call today!

Trauma Bonding: Causes & Effects

Have you ever felt that your relationship is somehow taking a toll on your emotional wellbeing? Have you noticed the negative effects on your life outside of the relationship? And yet, you’re unable to leave despite the pain? You may have mixed feelings about each other, or have difficulties putting it into words. Sometimes, you may be overwhelmed with negativity and guilt, and yet, there may be days that feel like honeymoons. 

It’s possible that you’re dealing with trauma bonding, which is a very real phenomenon. Still, how do you tell if it’s true for you or just a red flag? It may be a sign that you need to seek professional help and learn how to build intimacy in a relationship in a healthy way. Read on to learn more!

What Is Trauma Bonding In A Relationship?

What Is Trauma Bonding In A Relationship?

Trauma bonding is a type of attachment that can form between two people who have gone through a traumatic experience together. Or, more likely, you may share a compatible attachment pattern that stems from childhood emotional trauma. This bond is characterized by feelings of dependency, neediness, and fear. The connection can be very strong, it can feel genuine, and it can make it difficult for the people involved to leave the relationship, even if it is harmful.

The trauma bond is formed as a result of regular cycles of emotional or physical abuse, depreciation, and periodic positive reinforcement. For example, your partner may constantly put you down and then apologize and buy you flowers after a big argument. Over time, you start to believe that you need your partner in order to feel good about yourself. This is an unhealthy attachment that can be very difficult to break free from. 

If you find yourself in a cycle of abuse with someone, it may be that you are trauma bonded to them. This can happen in both romantic and non-romantic relationships. If you think you might be trauma bonded, it is important to seek help from a professional who can support you in breaking free from this unhealthy attachment.

What Are The Signs Of Trauma Bonding?

Childhood trauma bonds are characterized by an imbalance of power between the parent and child, with the parent providing both positive and negative attention. This can be confusing for the child, who may feel both grateful for the parent’s positive attention and responsible for the parent’s outbursts of negativity. As a result, a child’s self-esteem becomes shaped by their perceptions of their parent’s opinions and regard, and this can become a very unstable and self-deprecating base for their adult emotional life. 

There are several stages that are common in trauma bonds in attachment relationships:

  • Love bombing. This is when your partner showers you with attention and gifts at the beginning of the relationship in order to win you over and then stops abruptly.
  • Frequent mood swings. Then your partner may be loving and attentive for a minute, and then cruel and abusive the next. This inconsistency keeps you on your toes and creates an emotional rollercoaster that is hard to adjust to.
  • Trust and dependency.  Because your partner is often so unpredictable, you may start to depend on them for your emotional needs. This can make it very hard to leave the relationship.
  • Low self-esteem. The constant put-downs and criticism can cause you to doubt yourself and your abilities. You may start to believe that you deserve the abuse.
  • Criticism.  Your partner may find ways to criticize you, even if it’s something small. They may also try to control your behavior and tell you what you can and can’t do.
  • Manipulation. Your partner may use manipulation tactics to get you to do what they want. For example, they may guilt you into staying in the relationship or threaten to hurt themselves if you leave.
  • Giving up control. In order to please your partner, you may start to give up control of your life. You may do things you don’t want to do, or put their needs above your own.
  • Losing yourself. It’s common for people in trauma bonds to lose themselves in the relationship. You may find that you no longer have hobbies or interests outside of your partner. Your sense of self may become wrapped up in their approval or disapproval.
  • Addiction to the cycle. Even though the abuse is painful, you may find yourself addicted to the cycle of abuse. The highs and lows can become addicting, and you may start to feel like you need your partner in your life in order to just feel okay.

What Happens When You Are Trauma Bonded?

You may feel like you’re inseparable from the other person. It is usually considered a type of love addiction and the cycle is somewhat similar to substance abuse. Likewise, you’ll most likely go through the following stages you’ll in this type of relationship:

  1. The first stage is when you develop a strong attachment to someone who is abusive, or you become deeply involved in an abusive situation. 
  2. Over time, you start to believe that you deserve the abuse, or that you are responsible for it. This can happen because the abuser tells you that you deserve the abuse, or because you start to believe that you are responsible for the abuser’s bad behavior. 
  3. Next, you start to feel like you need the abuser in your life, even though they are abusive. This happens because the abuser has become a source of both positive and negative attention, and you have started to rely on them for both emotional and practical support. 
  4. In the final stage, you become so invested in the relationship that you are willing to tolerate any abuse in order to stay in it. This happens because the abuser has become the most important person in your life, and you cannot imagine living without them. And, your efforts to fix them override your own self-care and growth.

How To Know If It’s Love Or Trauma Bonding?

While every relationship is different and can be fraught with various patterns of behavior and emotional exchange at different stages, there are some clues that can help you discern between healthy love and a trauma bond: 

  • Love is built on trust, respect, and equality, while a trauma bond is more likely to be based on power imbalance, control, and fear. 
  • Love is voluntary and empowering. Trauma bonding is often coerced or forced, and you may feel trapped, stuck, or powerless to leave.
  • Love is selfless and supportive. Trauma bonding is often selfish, destructive, and disruptive. 
  • Love is positive and stable. Trauma bonding dwells on the negative and thrives on instability. 

How Do You Fix A Trauma Bond Relationship?

How Do You Fix A Trauma Bond Relationship?

While the trauma bond is often “mistaken for love”, you may still wonder if there are ways to fix the relationship and if there are enough healthy reasons to preserve it. The pain, emotional trauma, neglect, and the cycle of abuse may be subtle and not easily recognized for what they truly are. You may be so deeply invested in your relationship that you’d be prone to downplay the harm it causes. And, you may be in a relationship that is familier to the unhealthy family of origin household you grew up in.  However, the question of whether separating from your spouse is the only way to go is a valid one, and it begs many considerations.

If you finally do acknowledge the fact that you’re rooting against yourself, try to follow these steps to break the bond: 

Desist With The Self-Blame

The first step is to make a conscious decision to break the cycle of self-blame. You need to accept that you are not responsible for the abuser’s behavior.

Practice Reality Checks

The second step is to start practicing reality checks. This means that you need to start questioning the abuser’s version of events and start looking at the situation objectively. This can be difficult. However, it’s important to start seeing things as they really are.

Be Inquisitive

This means that you need to start questioning the actions and motives of your partner. Why do they do the things they do? What do they hope to gain from their behavior? Asking questions can help you to see their behavior for what it really is.

Switch Your Outlook

This means that you may need to start thinking about yourself first. What do you want? What do you need? What is best for you? Putting yourself first will help you to see your partner and your relationship more clearly.

Focus On Your Emotions

This means that you need to start paying attention to your own emotions and needs.  Paying attention to your own emotions will help you to see your relationship more clearly.

Stop Playing 

This means that you need to stop reacting to their behavior in the way they want you to. If they are trying to control you, resist their attempts to control you. This will help you to see that you are not powerless. 

Consider The Bigger Picture

This means that you need to start thinking about your life outside of your relationship. Consider what other people and things are important to you and what you want to do with your life. Focusing on something bigger than your relationship can help you to see it in a new light.

If you are in a relationship and you are not sure if it is love or trauma bonding, it is important to reach out to a professional for help. They can assess the situation and provide you with guidance on how to proceed.

Where Can I Find An Insightful Relationship Coaching Retreat For Individuals?

Overcoming a breakup or separation with your life partner is usually easier said than done. Although you’re likely to remember the times when you felt emotionally neglected or abandoned by them, or that you suddenly became unable to invest energy in your intimate relationship like you used to, it can still feel like unfinished business. This is why seeking professional help might lead you to some valuable insights you didn’t realize you needed.Whether you’ve decided to attend couple-based workshops to deepen the intimacy in your relationship, or you’re looking for individual sessions to improve your emotional wellbeing, you can count on PIVOT relationship advocates to provide you with the necessary guidance and support. Get the much-needed retreat and resources with us by contacting us today!

How To Cope With Marital Separation

There is no type of human relationship that doesn’t go through periods of crisis at a certain point. Marriages make no exception and when problems arise, some couples find a way to overcome difficulties, while others split up. Separation is one of the ways couples use to sort out the difficulties and differences they experienced. 

Many individuals and couples turn to professionals seeking advice on how to improve intimacy in their relationship. By the same token, you may seek support during the time you’re separated from your significant other. You may feel insecure and anxious when going through this stage of your relationship. Luckily, there are ways to make a positive change during your separation.

How To Deal With Separation?

How To Deal With Separation?

Going through a separation is usually very challenging and the fact that it isn’t final, unlike divorce, could make it even more complex to cope with. You could be dealing with a variety of mixed feelings, including anger, loneliness, and uncertainty on the one hand, as well as relief, excitement, and hope on the other. 

Regardless of the desired outcome, in order to use and understand your separation as a chance to grow and learn something new about yourself, it may be useful to practice the following tips: 

Embrace the fact that you may feel differently

Although you have shared a good deal of interests and experiences, you have to start by trying to appreciate your differences. This is especially important if your partner is going through a relationship burnout or you’re feeling like you’re becoming emotionally detached. Sometimes, a bit of distancing can make you make a better evaluation of your bond and your goals as a couple. 

Take a break

You need time to recover, think, and get a better grasp of your situation. You might try to seek distractions that will stop you from thinking about your relationship, or look for a new partner as soon as possible. While the relationship’s “on hold”, it’s probably best to take a step back and allow yourself to see a clearer picture. Then you’ll be able to answer the questions about the nature of your relationship.

Take care of yourself

Ensure that you have enough time to take care of your physical and mental health. This might mean finding time to commit to your hobbies or interests or spending more time with your friends, and family, or exploring your options. 

Avoid power struggles

It’s tempting to enter into bickering when you’re feeling neglected. However, this may only add fuel to the fire. It’s best if both parties avoid competition with one another and instead focus on themselves individually. Don’t try winning over the support of your mutual friends and family members, it will make things go easier in your relationship overall. And, if children are involved, dragging them into the power struggle will leave them with complexities that they will take into their relationships as they get older.  

Explore your interests

Your interests and hobbies matter. If there was something you liked doing before your marriage or relationship, and you forgot about it, returning to it may be worthwhile. You might be able to take a measure of how much you changed. 

Think in a constructive way

Try to stay focused on the solutions and the areas where you can make improvements. Rather than dwell on the bad or idealizing your relationship, it’s advisable to think about what you can do to heal your marriage, fulfill your needs, make a new beginning, or accept the fact that you need to move on in separate directions. This is how you’ll pave the way to positive change.

Learn to be patient  

Most significant changes don’t happen overnight. Sometimes, you need to wait them out. While you work on yourself, you can’t control whether your partner will work in the same direction as you. Although you may try to renew your communication, it may be better to practice patience and focus on yourself. This way, you’ll probably learn something about yourself, your wants, and your needs. 

Can A Marriage Be Saved After Separation?

For some people, this may sound overly optimistic. You might worry that getting back together might not alleviate the issues if your bond was based on an unhealthy attachment style. However, in many cases, separation can be a very feasible way to salvage a relationship. Reconciliation can become possible under the condition that you and your spouse go through a process that enables you to be accountable for your part and begin to see how you can contribute to repairing the challenges. 

In fact, there seems to be some scientific evidence to support the fact that separation can bring a meaningful and positive change in your marriage. Approximately 50 – 60% of separated couples get back together after this break. It’s also noted that separation is harder on the person breaking up, due to the uncertainty that lingers in the decision. 

How can you achieve this and how do you know if you’re heading in the right direction? If you’re separating for the right reasons and with clear boundaries, you can gain new insights and make your relationship stronger. 

How To Rebuild Your Marriage During A Separation?

How To Rebuild Your Marriage During A Separation?

Rebuilding your marriage can seem difficult. However, it is possible depending on how much effort you put into your own self-development. If you manage to overcome feelings of anger, prevent playing the blame game, and approach each other with honesty and a newfound appreciation of each other, you may be able to establish a new connection.

Of course, it’s advisable to negotiate your new boundaries with clarity, acknowledge your flaws, limitations, and responsibility, and open up. Once you have everything cleared up, ensure that you work together on the root cause that got you separated in the first place. By maintaining a positive outlook and mutual respect, you could be on the brink of a fresh new start. 

What Are The Signs That My Partner Wants To Reconcile?

Whether you’re the one that initiated the separation, or the one that was, in a way, left behind, you might foster a hope that you’ll get back together. Although this is normal, you might be wondering if you are clinging to hope in vain. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if there’s some hope left for your relationship and if there are chances that you’ll get back together. 

What Are Some Positive Signs That You Could Reconcile? 

You Continued Communicating

If you haven’t severed the ties and continued to communicate, and even improved your communication, this may be a positive sign that you could get back together. Even if you don’t hear from each other on a regular basis, another sign that you may be looking forward to reconciling is that your spouse is following you on social networks. 

You Have Recognized & Resolved The Main Issue

You have used your time away from each other to face the main issue and mitigate the problem. For example, you may have better control of your emotions, perhaps you have adopted a more honest and open way to talk to each other, learned to listen to your spouse actively, and have taken responsibility for your actions in the past.  

You Have Exchanges About Good Times In Your Marriage

If you have fond recollections of your time together, not just during the honeymoon phase, you’re likely to be back on track. If you make exchanges about these memories in a flirtatious manner, you have good reasons to be optimistic. 

You Dealt With Unmet Expectations

You’ve made a clear distinction between the expectations that were realistic and those that couldn’t be met by anyone. 

You Miss Each Other

If you stop for a moment and you recognize that you’re thinking of your partner more often than you had in a long time, you’re most likely missing them. If you actively seek their support and this is mutual, you’re probably ready to get back together. 

How Do You Rekindle A Relationship After Separation?

Once you get back together after a separation, you could still have a feeling that something is missing, that you don’t entirely trust each other, and that you need some more time. This may all be perfectly fine, as a sign that you need to take things one step at a time.

  • Work on your intimacy. Both emotional and physical. Try to find new ways to be together and have fun, inside and outside the bedroom. Talk about what you’re feeling, share your fantasies, and experiment a little. 
  • Show curiosity. When you’re in a long-term relationship with your partner, it’s easy to stop being curious about them. You think you know everything there is to know. However, over time, people change and grow, so it’s important to keep up and understand your partner on a deeper level.
  • Be creative and show effort. It may be easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same things over and over. If you want to keep the spark alive in your relationship, it’s important to try new things and put some effort into keeping things fresh.
  • Learn how to defuse conflict with fun. If you have a habit of getting into arguments with your partner, try to find some humor in the situation. This can help diffuse the tension and make it easier to resolve the issue.
  • Turn your differences into something positive. It’s easy to focus on the ways you and your partner are different. However, if you can learn to accept and even appreciate each other’s differences, it can make your relationship stronger.
  • Navigate your emotions. After a separation, it’s common to have mixed feelings about your partner. You may still love them while being angry and hurt at the same time. It’s important to work through these emotions if you are wanting to rebuild trust.
  • Seek professional help. When you feel that you have the opportunity to rebuild your relationship and rekindle your passion, it may be helpful to seek professional assistance and work your way through with a coach. 

Where Can I Find Useful Private Couple Retreats For Reconnection After A Separation?

When you’re struggling as a couple to find a common ground and recuperate your marriage, we have a team of relationship advocates that can assist you in a number of ways. You can work on your personal growth in an eye-to-eye context, or take advantage of our couple retreat and PIVOT through the difficult times together. 

With our support, you’ll learn how to overcome the ongoing effects of emotional trauma in a constructive way, identify your relationship patterns, how to improve intimacy in your relationship, have a better grasp of your emotions, and find ways to lead a meaningful life. Feel free to contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced coaches.