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Alexithymia (trouble identifying and describing emotions)

By Matthias · Jun 25, 2020 · Updated Jun 25, 2020 · ·
This guide explains alexithymia, what causes it, the harmful effects of it, and how to better understand your feelings so you can be yourself and be in control of how you feel.
  1. WHAT IS ALEXITHYMIA?
    Alexithymia refers to trouble identifying and describing emotions. Most people learn about emotions from their parents. If your parents did not teach you about emotions or adequately respond to your emotional distress when you were a child, you may have trouble understanding your emotions. Approximately 10% of the general population and 50% of autistic people suffer from alexithymia.

    CAUSE OF ALEXITHYMIA

    If your parents did not meet your emotional needs when you were a child, you may have experienced more frequent emotional distress due to not understanding your emotions or knowing how to deal with them. Emotional distress negatively affects behavior which may result in more negative reactions from other people. Those negative reactions may have resulted in you forming negative opinions about yourself and other people. If you think negatively and don't understand your emotions, you may feel discouraged, ashamed, embarrassed, upset, frustrated, anxious, angry, fearful, and a variety of other emotions in situations where other people experience do not experience those emotions. If you experience too many emotions at the same time, it can make it very difficult to differentiate between your emotions. If you coped by avoiding situations that were likely to result in unwanted emotions, it would have hindered your ability to learn about your emotions.

    EFFECTS OF ALEXITHYMIA
    If you aren’t attuned to your emotions and those of other people, you may come across as cold and distant by other people. You may find it harder to be assertive. Difficulty understanding emotions may result in misunderstandings, getting upset easily, being sensitive to criticism, and feeling overwhelmed in social situations. Alexithymia may increase your risk of developing depression and social anxiety.

    OVERCOMING ALEXITHYMIA

    One way to understand emotions better is to reduce the number of emotions you experience in various situations. Despite what many people think, numerous studies have shown that your emotions aren’t caused by other people’s words or actions. They are strongly influenced by your own beliefs. If you have a low self-esteem or negative opinions of other people may experience a variety of emotions in social situations that make it difficult to differentiate between them. For example, if you are struggling to get your point across you may be frustrated that other people aren’t understanding, embarrassed about having difficulty communicating, ashamed because you thinks something is wrong with you, anxious that other people might think there is something wrong with you, upset that people are criticizing you, and angry that people aren’t trying harder to understand.

    Improving your self-esteem can reduce the number of emotions your experience in various situations which can make it easier to identify and understand the remaining emotions you experience. For example, if you had difficulty communicating but improved your self-esteem you might not feel embarrassed or ashamed because you’d know that no one is perfect and that having weaknesses or flaws is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of because it doesn’t make you inferior or any less of a person.

    Evaluating and correcting unhelpful beliefs about other people can eliminate unwanted emotions. If you thought other people were criticizing you because they were judgmental or bad people but realized they were just questioning your words in an attempt to understand your point better, you may no longer feel upset about it. If you were angry because you thought other people were making you feel worse by causing your emotions and realized that no one can cause your emotions, you would be less likely to get angry.

    After improving your self-esteem and forming more helpful and accurate beliefs about other people, you may be able to get to the point where you only experience one emotion when you have trouble communicating (frustration) which would make it easier to identify, describe, and understand that emotion.

    To help with the above mentioned problems, I created the following guides:
    How to improve your self-esteem
    Replacing Unhelpful Beliefs with More Accurate and Helpful Beliefs

Comments

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  1. Giraffes
    Thanks for the links i've held negative views of myself throughout my life and the things you wrote rang true, i will explore ways to improve my self esteem.