We sometimes tend to pour intense emotions after watching a real tear jerking movie, or cry our hearts out to laughter after a real good comedy movie. If we could invest our emotions to fictional characters or situations, imagine how much more with real instances and persons we know. Different people have different ways of handling their feelings. Some can be true and showy, while others can be very secretive and are good at holding back their emotions. But no matter what our differences are, there are people who sometimes become weak and very vulnerable. In the end, they start not to care and undergo what we call an “emotional shut down”.
Why Do People Shut Down Emotionally?
They fear rejection
The theory behind emotional shut down is that people who are very afraid of rejection, no matter due to nature or past emotional wounds, have low level of satisfaction when it comes to relationships. The most common coping mechanism seen to persons afraid of rejection is emotional cut off.
This is a form of self-differentiation where one tends to guard his emotions by distancing himself or herself from others. According to a study conducted in the University of Tennessee, people who try to stay away from others lower the potential of rejection and getting hurt, but it also lowers the potential for fulfillment and satisfaction. Emotional cut off is an effective way of protecting oneself in short term but it will hurt you in the end.
The theory is simple, but everyone's situation is unique and the trigger for one to shut down differs from one another. So after knowing the theory behind, let's get to know some specific reason why people shut down emotionally.
They feel they are not doing anything right
Why do people shut down emotionally? It might be because they feel that they are not doing anything right. For example, instead of directly telling your partner what you really want, you try to give subtle clues. And when you end up not getting what you want, you start a conflict. This makes your partner feel defeated emotionally and spiritually.
How to do: Always tell the person honestly and directly what the real issue is.
They feel that their feelings are unimportant
Some people act as if they do not care anymore when they feel that their opinions and thoughts are not considered by their families and friends. They get fed up if they think their feelings are constantly taken for granted.
How to do: Gently tell the person that you understand his or her feelings but he or she needs to tell you how he or she truly feels.
They’re tired of putting effort
There are persons who get drained when they feel they are always the ones to put effort on the relationship. People want love, attention, thoughtfulness and romance, and if they feel that they are the ones who always initiate, they will retreat once they get tired.
How to do: If you see your partner or friend moving away, it won’t hurt if you become the one to make some efforts to make things work once in a while.
They lack words of encouragement
Everyone needs to hear some words that will make them feel good about themselves. If your loved ones tell you that they are proud of you, they also want you to do the same thing for them.
How to do: Your loved one might be too shy to speak up that they want to hear you say you love them. In this case, you need to be more sensitive and thoughtful about his or her needs.
They feel judged
Why do people shut down emotionally? When people can’t express themselves because they feel judged each time they try to open up something, then it is more likely that they will back out and retreat.
How to do: Ask the person in what way you were being critical and assure them that you are willing to make adjustments so they can start speaking up.
They are not yet ready
When people are too tired and fed up, they want a breath of fresh air to relax their minds. Sometimes, they are forced to speak up when they are not yet ready, which only makes them want to move away even more.
How to do: Tell the person that you really want to fix things up and ask when he or she is ready to settle things with you. This also gives the person the feeling that he or she is in full control.
They feel biased
A relationship should be a give and take process. Persons, who feel that their relationship has become one-sided, begin to feel unloved, biased and eventually resent their partners. Why do people shut down emotionally? This is because they felt that their efforts are left unappreciated.
How to do: Gently ask your partner or friends in what part of the relationship you stopped doing your responsibilities. In this way, the person will feel that you still recognize that you are a team.
They feel unlikable
People move away when they feel that they are not accepted for who they really are. You might have said or done something that made them feel they are “required” to change their beliefs and values just to be accepted by you or others.
How to do: Tell the person the things he or she does that you love most and then try suggesting some things that they can also do without sounding like you want to change him or her.
They feel frustrated
People can get frustrated when they try to emphasize their views in a certain matter and you still cannot understand or accept their points no matter how much they’ve explained everything. This can actually stress them out and make them shut down.
How to do: Wait for the other person to calm and then do things that both of you enjoy. Then you may start the discussion without having an argument.
They don’t get what they want
Isn’t it frustrating when you end up not getting enough of what you want in spite of meeting all of your partner’s or friend's needs? Why do people shut down emotionally? It’s because their needs and wants are not met and satisfied.
How to do: Ask your partner his or her wants and try to dig deeper because you might be misinterpreting him or her that’s why you are not able to satisfy his or her needs.