Almost everyone finds themselves swept up in a tide of emotions from time to time, particularly during events that deeply touch our lives. It's what makes us human. But what happens when you feel like your emotional reactions are way over the top, leaving you to wonder why a minor frustration can bring you to tears, or why small irritations make you snap?
Emotions are powerful signals that provide valuable information about ourselves and our environment. They guide us through life experiences and serve as a compass for our well-being.
Avoiding or suppressing emotions can have damaging consequences, such as emotional exhaustion, strained relationships, and potential addiction issues.
Early life experiences and the way we were raised can shape our emotional patterns and how we express and regulate our emotions.
Developing emotional intelligence, seeking support, and practicing self-care can lead to healthier emotional experiences, improved relationships, and increase overall well-being.
In this article, we will explore the most common reasons for being over-emotional, along with empowering strategies to navigate them, offering hope for more balanced emotional well-being.
Understanding our emotions
Emotions serve as bodily experiences that provide valuable information about ourselves and our surroundings. They act as indicators, communicating to us about various aspects of our lives, whether it is an experience, a relationship, or an upcoming event that elicits feelings of joy or trepidation.
Emotions capture our attention and alert us to pay heed to our experiences, whether they are positive or negative.
Emotions can generally be classified into six primary categories: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. These emotions play a huge role in shaping our responses and interactions with the world around us.
Dangers of suppressing emotions
Avoiding or not dealing with emotions is like ignoring a pressure cooker. When we try to “push down” or suppress our emotions, they don't just vanish into thin air. Instead, they build up over time, creating a boiling pot of stress, anxiety, or even depression. Unresolved emotions can even manifest as physical symptoms, affecting our overall health.
By avoiding our emotions, we put a strain on our relationships, hinder our self-awareness, and stunt our personal growth. This avoidance can cause the pressure to escalate, resulting in emotional outbursts, and damaged relationships, and can even lead to addictions as a way of suppressing the emotional pain.
Communicating your emotions
Expressing our feelings can be difficult, especially when we're feeling vulnerable. When trying to convey your emotions to a loved one, start by making a conscious effort to express your emotions regularly, even if it's sharing a small aspect of how you feel each day.
Using “I” statements is a vital skill to develop in getting your feelings across effectively. For example, instead of saying, “You always hurt me when you say that,” you can say, “I feel hurt when you say that.” By using “I” statements, you take ownership of your emotions and express how a specific behavior or comment personally affects you. It also reduces the likelihood of your partner becoming defensive, as they will not feel personally attacked.
Stating your needs clearly is also important. Whether it's requesting space to be on your own when you are feeling down or asking for a comforting hug when you are feeling sad, communicating your needs helps ensure they are understood and met. If your partner doesn't know what you need, it can be easy to feel that your needs are not being met, so open and honest communication is key.
Through regular practice of expressing your feelings and communicating your needs, both you and your loved one can develop the capacity to be vulnerable and experience a more loving relationship.
7 reasons you might be feeling over emotional
Here are seven potential reasons why you might be feeling overly emotional. Understanding these factors can help shed light on your vulnerabilities and provide guidance on how to effectively manage and navigate them.
1. Showing emotions is a sign of weakness
You may have grown up hearing messages like “boys don't cry” or “pull yourself together,” which gave you the message that showing vulnerability or expressing emotions is a sign of weakness. Society sometimes equates vulnerability with being soft or wimpy.
However, it is important to understand that vulnerability is not a weakness; it takes courage to be open and honest about your feelings. Embracing vulnerability allows for genuine connections with others and promotes emotional well-being. Remember, it's okay to let your guard down and express your emotions — it's a sign of strength, not weakness.
Using emotional intelligence (EI), you can defy societal norms that say vulnerability is a weakness. Challenge those beliefs and see vulnerability as a strength.
Take the time to understand yourself better, question old assumptions, learn to identify each emotion as it arises, and then assertively express yourself.
2. Hormonal imbalances
Fluctuations or imbalances in hormones can cause severe mood swings. Hormones such as estrogen, cortisol, testosterone, and others play essential roles in maintaining the proper functioning of your body. However, disruptions in the delicate balance of these hormones can occur due to factors like illnesses, monthly cycles, medications, or chronic stress. When this happens, it can lead to moodiness and heightened emotional experiences.
Seek medical advice, consult a doctor, and undergo relevant blood tests that can help identify and address hormone fluctuations or imbalances.
Psychological trauma refers to highly stressful events that pose severe threats to our physical well-being and safety. These experiences can have very damaging effects on our mental health, potentially leading to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder. Emotionally, trauma can evoke intense feelings such as anger, fear, and shame, often accompanied by impulsive or unpredictable behavior.
Seek therapy, current clinical research strongly supports the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating trauma and related conditions.
Therapeutic approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy have shown significant success in reducing symptoms.
4. Work-related stress
Experiencing work-related stress is a common issue many of us will face at some stage. While stress can be beneficial in certain situations, such as motivating us to perform well or respond to immediate dangers, chronic stress can take a toll on our emotions.
This can result in feelings such as anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, anger, and ultimately, a state of burnout. Living in a state of constant anxiety and stress will exhaust our stress response system, known as the “fight or flight” response. This can lead to emotional exhaustion and persistent bad moods.
Identify the main source of your stress. When faced with a challenging work environment, it may be necessary to have a meeting with HR or your supervisor to voice your concerns.
In addition, taking the time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions through journaling can provide valuable insights and help you regain a sense of control. Using mental health apps can also assist in managing work-related stress effectively. These apps offer a range of tools and resources that empower you to develop coping strategies and improve your overall well-being. Remember to focus on what you can change or let go of to reduce stress and create a healthier and more balanced work-life dynamic.
5. Gaslighting or abusive relationships
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used by abusive and controlling people in your life to make you doubt your own judgment and perception of reality. They may try to convince you that you are overly emotional, invalidating your feelings, and making you question your sanity.
By gaslighting, they aim to normalize their abusive behavior and maintain control over you. If someone in your life consistently dismisses your concerns by labeling you as “too emotional,” it could indicate a potential warning sign of an abusive relationship.
Recovering from gaslighting involves acknowledging the issue, identifying the manipulation, rebuilding self-assurance, and seeking help from people you trust and who validate your emotions.
Regaining trust in your own feelings, setting healthy boundaries, and cultivating a supportive environment that values and respects your feelings are vital steps in recovering from gaslighting.
6. Mental health concerns
If you find yourself experiencing intense and overwhelming emotions on a regular basis, it may be indicative of an underlying mental health issue. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder can contribute to heightened emotional responses.
Experiencing intense emotions is not a cause for alarm or a source of stigma. It is an opportunity for personal growth, emotional well-being, and a transformative journey towards a more fulfilling life.
If you suspect an underlying mental health issue is contributing to your emotional experiences, reaching out to a qualified mental health professional can offer valuable insights and support in understanding and managing your emotions.
7. Lack of sleep
It may sound obvious, but can increase our emotional sensitivity, making us more prone to feeling weepy, irritated, or angry. The longer you go without sufficient sleep, the greater the likelihood of experiencing difficulty regulating your emotions. Research indicates that adequate sleep plays a crucial role in stabilizing mood and reducing the risk of depression. Prioritizing quality sleep can contribute to improved cognitive functioning and emotional well-being.
Set a consistent bedtime routine, exercise, and cut down on social media before bedtime. Prioritize at least 7 hours of restful sleep per night to support emotional well-being and restore balance.
Intense emotions are a natural part of being human. By embracing and understanding them, you can embark on a journey of personal growth and deeper connections. Seek support when needed, practice self-care, and validate your feelings. You have the power to manage and harness your emotions, leading to resilience and well-being. Embrace your emotional journey and discover the strength within you.
- Open Access Text. The relationship between stress and negative emotion.
- Frontiers in Psychology. Mindfulness and emotional regulation.