Emotional Dysregulation: Can You Recognize An Emotionally Immature Person?

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Can you recognize an emotionally immature person? A person whose emotional age is far behind their chronological age.

Of course, this does not include children and adolescents. Children and adolescents are not expected to have a full grasp of their emotions. Part of their development process is learning how to regulate and control their emotional responses.

Yet once we reach adulthood, you will encounter two distinct types of people: the emotionally mature and the emotionally immature. You will be able to detect quite quickly the type you are dealing with.

Emotionally mature people master control of their emotions meaning they are emotionally regulated. Emotional regulation involves maintaining thoughts, behaviors and expressions within a socially acceptable range. Therefore, you are not going to break down in tears in public or in the middle of a tense work meeting. You are not going to start screaming at other people or make a scene in public. You are not going to hurl insults and name call your coworkers or clients. You are able to appropriately respond to life stressors. Emotionally immature people never develop this ability and tend to struggle with emotional dysregulation.

Emotional dysregulation is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulated, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive responses. Possible manifestations of emotional dysregulation include angry outbursts or behavior outbursts such as crying or melting down, high levels of anxiety, being inflexible, aggression towards self or others, inability to adapt, etc.

Emotion dysregulation is associated with many psychiatric disorders such as major depression, PTSD and C-PTSD, mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder/borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse.

Emotional maturity is defined by the ability to control your emotions and take full responsibility for your life.  A large part of being emotionally mature is having the ability to handle anger, disappointment, fear, jealousy, resentment, insecurity, and a myriad of other feelings appropriately. Emotional maturity is defined when you have the ability to experience these emotions and then let them go. People who are immature seem to remain stuck in these negative emotions, unable to get past them.

Emotional maturity is the ability to see life clearly and accurately, and to deal with it. Often we may not like how it is but we are mature enough to recognize that it is what it is. We are not in control of much in life–including circumstances and other people. For many of us, this is just a given.

Emotionally immature people cannot do this-they often expect life to be easy or comfortable all the time and if it isn’t—they look at who or what is to blame. They often try to control others and their environment since they struggle to control themselves. These are very childish people in terms of their emotional responses.

No matter who we are, we will all eventually meet, perhaps at work or our extended social circle, an impossibly immature person.  The person may look mature, and have many adult responsibilities, but emotionally, they are still a child. A person who can at times present themselves appropriately but can turn on a dime acting hurtful, rude, inappropriate, tactless,and dangerously childish whenever the need suits them.

Emotionally immature people can be extremely challenging to deal with, because their ability to interpret and react to the variety of life’s challenges is often impaired.

Emotional immature adults are known to throw “adult temper tantrums.”  Whereas adults tend to stay calm, emotionally immature adults are quick to anger and rage. They cannot control their emotions much like a toddler. They can cry uncontrollably and be unable to hold themselves together when confronted with the slightest inconvenience or the smallest amount of stress.

Now this is to not say we all do not have our moments. None of us are perfect and we all will have our off days. What I am talking about here is a pattern of behavior over time.

Emotionally immature people tend to struggle with emotional dysregulating i.e. the ability to regulate their emotion responses.

Whereas mature adults, respond not react, immature adults are impulsive and can blurt out hurtful, tactless words.  Mature adults recognize sometimes it is better to say nothing than to say something we will live to regret. We are not going to flip out on our boss because we got passed on for a promotion or tell our sister to screw off because we are upset with her. We are able to think before we speak as to not make things worse for ourselves (and others). This is because people who are psychologically mature have impulse control. Emotionally immature people never cultivated such an impulse control.

Often for one reason or another, the person never quite grew up.

Below are the telltale signs of an emotionally immature person:

  • A person who is emotionally immature will: be reactive; see himself as a victim; act out his emotions (intense or gut reactions, like explosive anger, sudden crying, etc)
  • A person who, like a two-year old will throw temper tantrums because they are entitled to get their way even to the detriment of those closest to them (they feel they have the right to attack anyone who thwarts their wants, needs, goals)
  • A person who is be self-centered and concerned with self-protection; appear to always be justifying his actions to himself or others
  • A person will be manipulative; be motivated by fear or a feeling that he “has to” do something,” as well as a need to avoid failure, discomfort, and rejection
  • A person who whines & complains frequently or literally acts like a crybaby
  • A person who must be right and is incapable of hearing differing viewpoints
  • A person who escalates things emotionally
  • A person who loves to blame and name call
  • A person who has a low frustration tolerance. They are not able to deal with every day stress. As the result, they will become excessively emotional
  • A person who speaks recklessly without thinking about potential consequences (adults resist the urge to react in order to avoid shooting out hurtful words/action–they self-soothe). Such a person believes they can blurt out whatever they think or feel even if it hurts or alienates those around them
  • A person who bullies. Adults respect boundaries.  Emotionally immature adults do not
  • A person who has immature defense mechanisms. Children tend to regard the best defense as a strong offense.  Similarly an emotionally immature adult attacks anyone who expresses a viewpoint different from what they want
  • A person who is passive-aggressive. Subtle insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or a deliberate failure to accomplish required tasks.

As we grow up and mature, we learn that much of life we cannot control including other people and circumstances. We recognize life is constant change. The ability to adapt and evolve is a must.

We recognize much of life is unfair.

We do not get the job we deserve. We are passed over for the promotion. We have health problems. Financial problems. People we love pass away. Friendships fade, relationships end. People we love move away. We do not have perfect parents, the perfect partner. We are not perfect partners or parents either.

Yet there is a sense of humility in the emotionally mature. With emotionally maturity comes the recognition that many things in life are complicated. We develop the ability to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. We humble ourselves when necessary. We also recognize most things will pass and get better. If we let them. But emotionally immature people cannot get out of their own way.

Emotionally mature people recognize the complexities of life. We will not always get what we want. We will be disappointed. We cannot always get our way. Things will not always go according to our plans. Other people will let us down. We will let ourselves down.

As a counselor, often what brings people initially into treatment is an ongoing struggle with an important relationship in their lives: spouse, child, parent, etc. Our level of maturity will determine how we manage everything in life including our relationships.

Emotional mature people are able to acknowledge others are entitled to live their lives the way they see fit, to not like us; to leave us. We understand others have the right to speak badly about us, or even to hate us. This is not to say we do not try to discuss it with the person at hand or make things better but we know that this is not always possible. As I wrote on a previous post, this is where it is important to be psychologically flexible.

Emotionally mature people recognize we are only in control of ourselves. This is where our power is. We can be agents of positive change or negative change, the choice is ours. Mature people recognize they are not entitled to anything in life. A mature individual does not lose control and give into irrational thoughts simply because they haven’t gotten their way.

As a clinician, it surprises me how many people growing up, were never taught coping skills. I have seen many people were never taught to self soothe or regulate their emotions. They never learned how to effectively handle the problems in their life or deal with stressors. Some people will not be able to cope with the difficulties of life and do not have the ability to face and overcome obstacles. These people will continue to exhibit childish behaviors.We all have our bad days but if you generally function as a grown-up, the more clear you are about what qualifies grown-up behavior, the more you will be able to stay a grown-up even when you are interacting with someone who is acting like a child.

Emotion regulation is essential for healthy functioning (Grecucci, Theuninck, Frederickson, & Job, 2015). If you experience emotion dysregulation, you should consider seeking qualified professional help.

If you are interested in scheduling a session:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/erin-doyle-theodorou-nutley-nj/243617

Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed., LPC, NCC

Theodorou Therapy, LLC

590 Franklin Ave.

Suite 2

Nutley, NJ 07110

973-963-7485

etheodorou@theodoroutherapy.com

6 Signs He Is Just Not That Into You

“He’s just not THAT into you.”

I remember the Sex and the City episode which played up this very popular early 2000’s catch phrase. I know you hate this phrase. I hate it even more. I think we hate it because we recognize that it IS indeed true– even when we are living in a fantasy world about it. Denial in dating is a common phenomenon.

I hate to say it. I apologize for saying it. But if a man is not calling you, it’s not because he has bad cell service or he is really tied up at work. He is not calling (or texting) because he doesn’t like you or doesn’t like you enough to make the effort.

Below are some telling signs he is just NOT that into you:

1)You always have to reach out to him FIRST. When a man is crazy for you, he is reaching out. Often. And with passion. If you’re always the one texting, calling, or messaging him first, and he never initiates a conversation – sorry but that’s a huge sign that he’s not that into you.

2)You have not met his friends. Or family. If a man is actually into you, you’re going to meet his friends and family. He is going to want you to be a part of ALL of his world (or at least give you the choice to be).

3) He Actively Flirts With Other Women.  This one is self-explanatory. Huge deal-breaker.It is disrespectful and gross. I expect a 16-year-old boy to do this–not a 36-year-old MAN.

4)He’s Never Trying to Impress You. Men who are smitten? They try to impress you at ALL costs. If no effort is being made to wow you, this speaks volumes about the level of interest.

5)The man treats you like an option NOT a priority. If he is repeatedly blowing off plans and you see him posting on Insta later that night with his pals? BYE Felicia. You should be his number priority. Of course for a man hanging out with his friends is important but breaking plans with you for them over AND over again? Nope!

6)He does not take you on REAL dates. A bottle of wine at his apartment and House of Cards binge? That is fun from time to time. But if you are looking for something more, guard your heart if he only wants to Netflix & Chill. Nothing wrong with but then you are probably looking at just a hookup with no strings attached.

6)You feel it in your gut. Ultimately, your instincts are going to tell you the truth. Ladies, deep down we know when a man is NOT feeling us. You deserve more.

If you find you are repeatedly attracting the wrong man, it may be time to talk to someone. A professional can help you get to the bottom of why you are attracted to unavailable men.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com

Retirement: Are You Mentally Prepared?

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Retirement is a goal for many people.

Some people count the days, months, YEARS until they are going to retire.

Yet for others, they will proudly say they NEVER plan to retire because they love what they do for a living. You can count me among these folks. (Although I also recognize as you change and evolve through life, how you feel can AND does change!)

On the other hand there are people who CANNOT retire because of financial reasons.

Others are forced into retirement because of factors outside of their control–health problems, downsizing, etc.

As you can see, retirement is a VERY personal experience.

One of life’s biggest decisions is whether to retire and if so, WHEN.  Retirement is a huge milestone. There are many factors that must be considered before pulling the trigger.

Retirement should not create difficulty in life, but it often does. The sad fact is in America, the vast majority of people do not plan well enough for their retirement–financially or emotionally. Saving enough money to have a comfortable retirement is a difficult process for many.  Perhaps even more important is planning what you’re going to do with your days in retirement. Or deciding if you even want to retire. Ever.

Do you believe you will happier retired or working? Do you enjoy your career and derive a sense of purpose from it? I know for myself my career provides much meaning for me both professionally AND personally. I love my field so much that writing a blog on different counseling related topics has become a fun pastime for me. Counseling and psychology are PASSIONS of mine. Thus I cannot imagine a day where I am not in the field of counseling and mental health in SOME capacity. But I am someone who feels my profession is a calling. I believe many people do NOT feel this way about their career. (Most even).

Is your job stressful? Do you find it fulfilling?

Do you look forward to going to work? Or is it something you dread come Sunday night?

When you think about retiring, do you believe you will you be physically healthier?

Do you believe you will be mentally and emotionally healthier when you retire?

What benefits does your career provide? Are their social benefits–colleagues who are friends? Book clubs? Social gatherings you love? Practical benefits like health insurance?

Are you psychologically prepared to retire? To give up your professional identity?

Do you think you will you live longer if you retire? Or do you fear soon after retirement will come declining health and loss of purpose?

What will you do in retirement? A good way to feel this out is reflecting on your life currently. Are you involved in volunteer work, hobbies, or a particular passion? If not, it may be unrealistic to believe that you will suddenly be a totally different person the day after you retire.

There is no right or wrong decision here. Deciding whether to retire is a life changing decision. Don’t rush it. Discuss your answers to these questions with people you love. Or a mental health professional (such as myself).

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com

Your Opinion is NOT a Fact

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Is anyone else thrown by how many people confuse  OPINIONS with facts?

Our opinions are NOT facts.

For some of us, this is just stating the obvious.

However, it has become alarming, how many people believe that their opinion is fact. We incorrectly believe that IF we believe something, it is correct.  I mean, if WE believe it, it must be true. It holds true for us and we are ALWAYS right. Right!?!

Not so fast there. Looky below.

o·pin·ion

/əˈpinyən/
noun
  1. a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Key words there: NOT necessarily based on fact OR knowledge.  Yet in American culture, society as a large has this tendency to focus on ourselves. Yes. Ourselves. The “I KNOW best” mentality has been perfected by many who walk among us. Some people who even lead our nation (not mentioning any names, hint, hint) hold this close-minded perspective. Some people view their opinions and views as Gospel.

Even worse, people feel ENTITLED to offer up their opinion. Their UNSOLICITED opinions. To you. Me. Anyone who will listen.

And we know what they say about opinions….

Over time, this universal bad habit of speaking our opinions as facts has developed in our culture. I know I fall into this trap myself when I am passionate about the subject. I try to catch myself when I am doing it. And sadly in this political climate–actual facts are being refered to as opinions. It is a WILD time to be part of the political discourse.  People are no longer swayed by facts, JUST opinions.

In this day and age, people outright refuse to BELIEVE facts.

It is not just in the political landscape this is playing out. People state their “opinions” as truisms of how others should live their lives.

People use their opinions as weapons to HURT other people. To belittle them. To make them feel less than.  (they even defend themselves for doing such by saying it is just THEIR opinion so you have NO right to be offended as they are “entitled” to it–even if their opinion is an INHERENT insult on you).

Gone are the days when parents tell kids to keep their opinions to themselves. Even in polite company adults do not keep their opinions to themselves. Many people just let whatever they think rip.

Whenever someone tells me what they “think” or “believe” as a directive, I already know the type of individual I am dealing with.  A person who most likely does not follow the “let’s agree to disagree” mindset I try to embody for the most part. Instead these sorts of people try to convince you how wrong you are for your views. The sad truth is we are living in increasingly intolerant times.

Many people are confused about what tolerance is. The word tolerate means to allow or to permit, to recognize and respect others’ beliefs and practices without sharing them, to bear or put up with someone or something not necessarily liked.

The tolerant person occupies neutral ground, a place where each person is permitted to decide for himself. No judgments allowed. No “forcing” one’s personal views on another. No belittling or demeaning a person who does not hold your views. Being tolerant entails taking a neutral posture towards another’s convictions.

Tolerance, then, involves three components: (1) permitting or allowing (2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with (3) while respecting the person in the process.

Sadly America is becoming an increasingly INtolerant society.

As a mental health clinician, I gently work to help clients who struggle in their interpersonal relationships with intolerance and the ability to tolerate differences. I point out to my clients that what they feel and think is not universal. It is not healthy to measure others against our own values and viewpoints because we all have different values–different does not mean better or worse JUST dissimilar. We cannot hold people to our own beliefs and opinions if we want to have healthy, enduring relationships. We have to be tolerant of differences and give people the freedom to be who they are, without our unrequested judgement.

On the other hand, I know I tend to be INtolerant of intolerant people. I just don’t like to spend my time with people who feel the need to judge and denigrate anyone who does not live according to THEIR standards and beliefs. I feel life is TOO short for that negativity.

If we want healthy relationships with others, we need to be tolerant of others and their dissenting opinions.

As a counselor, people often as me for my opinion or advice which I tell them is not my role.   The role of a therapist is to present clients with a better comprehension of what motivates or causes them to act or think in the way that they do.

Psychotherapy should be a tool that guides people in making their own decisions.

The reality is many of our opinions are often not based on data. Or research. Or any absolute truth. Do you ever question how you reached your conclusion? Our opinions are often based on our feelings and emotions–both which are notoriously irrational and unreliable.

As a therapist, I often hear people diagnosing other people with mental health issues–playing armchair psychologist and flippantly diagnosing friends, family members, and politicians–anyone they DISAGREE with. Frequently I hear about people giving their “opinions” of the mental health of other people as a way to pigeonhole and categorize them—with no background or training in psychology.

This is just another reflection of intolerance.

Why does it matter to understand the difference between fact and opinion? Because although everyone is entitled to an opinion, not all opinions are equally valuable. This is precisely why opinions by “experts” are more valued in court testimony and evaluative reporting because they are more likely to provide opinions based on facts. Based in knowledge.

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People often try to shut down another by saying, “That’s just YOUR opinion” as in to say what you are saying is a statement of opinion but in contrast what they are saying is a statement of FACT. A pernicious statement to make to say the least.

It is not always good to form an opinion on everything AND anything because in turn you feel internally compelled to share it with everyone and anyone.

For instance you may:

  • You spend time thinking imaginary arguments with others about how horrible they are.
  • You may actually engage in those arguments, in REAL life, wasting even more time.
  • You look for arguments and debates to get into.
  • You make other people feel bad. They either feel annoyed by you, angry with you, or offended about what you say.

Unless your goal is controversy and outrage, you should limit your opinions to topics that truly matter to you and topics you are INFORMED on. Opinions should be educated and based in evidence. Not just emotion BUT also logic and FACTS.

We need to stop having an opinion on everything. I don’t have opinions on MANY things–from stock portfolios to cooking to football to how to do anything crafty on Pinterest: I am opinionLESS (my lack of knowledge in football=pointed our frequently by my hubby). You need to be confident in what you know and be humble about what you DON’T know.

It seems as though intolerance of other people’s opinions infiltrates all different aspects of our lives. Here is to hoping we can someday grow more tolerant of our differences. In my “opinion” the growing intolerance in our nation is concerning. It is OKAY if someone disagrees with us for our opinion has the right to be expressed, but it has no rights to be imposed on others.

But, hey, what do I know?! These are just my “opinions.”

 

Managing Stress During the Holiday Season: It’s the Most Wonderful AND Stressful Time of the Year!

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Do you get stressed-out around the holidays? 

Thanksgiving is almost upon us which means the holiday season is about to be in full swing!

For many, this is their favorite time of year. Many look forward to the holidays and ending the year with a bang!

The holiday season can be full of joy and spending quality time with our loved ones…but it can also be stressful and full of angst. The holiday season is a time of year that often brings unwelcome visitors–anxiety, stress, and depression just to name a few–all of which can put a damper on one’s holiday spirit.

Stress is ever-present during the holiday season. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a multitude of demands — demands we place on our self AND demands placed on us by others.

We spend endless hours devoting much time to decorating, shopping, baking, gift wrapping, cleaning, and entertaining. Unrealistic expectations run rampant during the time of year. Just trying to stay within one’s budget can be stressful in and of itself.

It is the most wonderful and EXPENSIVE time of the year!

During this time of year, people often resort to bad habits—they may overindulged in sweet and sugar cravings, dip into the booze and pharmaceuticals, and live on cup after cup of caffeine filled drinks such as coffee and soda to power through their never-ending to-do list.

Emotions can be all over the place. You may feel annoyed by meddling relatives, experience bouts of loneliness,  miss loved ones who are no longer with you, or lose patience with your children over their endless requests and demands.

Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your mental health. Being realistic, planning ahead, and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.

Below are some strategies for managing the stress of the holidays:

1)Stay connected. As families change and grow, you may not all be able to be together on the holidays. People live on different coasts, other loved ones may spend time with their in-laws, and schedules may not allow everyone to be together in ONE place. Give people a call, send holiday cards, and do your best to stay connected even if you cannot physically be together. If you want to stay connected you need to do your part as well to stay in touch–even a simple “Missing you, thinking of you” text can go a long way to letting the people in your life know you care.

2)Don’t blow your budget–you can’t buy happiness for yourself OR anyone else. Design a budget and stick to it. How much you spend is NOT a reflection of how much you care. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to go big (big meaning expensive) on presents to make loved ones happy. It truly is the thought that counts.  The best presents to give are experiences–give loved ones Groupons such as to a paint class night or to try a cooking class.

3)Take care of YOU. Often during the holidays we are so focused on doing for others. It is also a trying time of year on us physically AND mentally— the days begin getting darker and colder (unless you live in a tropical climate-then LUCKY YOU), we eat more, drink more, sleep less, and are generally more busy. It is the recipe for the perfect storm on our emotional and mental well-being. Try not to abandon ALL your healthy habits. Try to get the proper amount of sleep, get some exercise in, and watch your diet during the work week. Don’t let the holidays be a free for all on your health. Come January 1st you WILL regret it.

4)Learn to say no. You do not have to attend every party you are invited to. You do not have to host your mother-in-law’s third cousins you never met before. You don’t have to drive to three different places on Christmas to not disappoint. Slow it down. Don’t allow the holiday season to run you ragged. Saying yes when you want to say no leaves you feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Nothing merry about that!

5)Lower your expectations. Cut yourself some slack. Cut others some slack as well. We are all doing the best we can. Things do not need to be perfect to be fun. Try for good enough and focus your attention on the real meaning of the holidays. Don’t let your annoying, crazy uncle get on your last nerve at the dinner table–this is why Jesus turned water into wine. Have a glass of red (heart health AND antioxidants), scoop on the salad, and try to have fun!

It is important to take control of the holidays before they take control of YOU.

Don’t let the holidays become something that spikes your stress levels to the max. Instead, take steps to prevent stress and depression that can arise during the holidays. Learn to recognize your triggers. Perhaps you worry about your family’s budget or demands placed on you. Stay mindful and take some time to RELAX. Keep in mind self-imposed demands tend to be especially tough, so try your best to mitigate the stress before it leads to a meltdown.

Even if you’re a easy going, laid back person, the holiday season can still be a trying time. Your stress level can go through the roof. Don’t be afraid to talk to a mental health professional if the holiday season has you feeling down or having a difficult time. A therapist can help you improve your coping skills so you can tap into the joy and peace that is all around you–and within you.

Happy Holidays!

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com