Walking on eggshells: How 'emotional monitoring' hurts your well-being


By AGENCY
  • Living
  • Monday, 24 Jun 2024

'Emotional monitoring' means constantly analysing another person's emotions to the detriment of your well-being. — AFP

EMPATHY is an essential quality. But when this ability is used not to put yourself in someone else's shoes, but to control your own emotions, it can become unhealthy. This is what's known as "emotional monitoring.

"It means constantly analysing someone else's emotions to avoid upsetting them, often to the detriment of your own personal well-being. When your partner is upset, it's common to ask if everything's all right, or if they might be upset with you in some way. You might think it's the kind and considerate thing to do.

But when this kind of empathy is taken to extremes, it can become detrimental, leading to what's known as "emotional monitoring." In practical terms, this involves "scanning the emotions of other people and trying to learn how you should respond based on what you perceive vs. what you’re feeling yourself," reports digital publication Well and Good, citing Pamela Orren, a California-based clinical psychologist.

This behaviour can manifest itself in romantic relationships, but also with family, friends and in professional circles. Whatever the context, it can be problematic for a number of reasons.

"The goal is to know what they might be feeling so as to avoid making them uncomfortable. With emotion monitoring, there is a sense of anticipation, and because that anticipation is constant, one’s own emotion state gets neglected," clinical psychologist, Naomi Torres-Mackie, writes in an article for Psychology Today.

Analysing emotions

In short, someone who is "emotion monitoring" will analyse the other's emotions, not to support them, but to reassure themselves and avoid upsetting them. However, this becomes a way of seeking the other person's validation in order to satisfy a need to please and for relationship security. And this unfortunate habit can lead to toxic situations within a couple or in any other relationship.

"For certain people, especially those who have a trauma history, it can go into overdrive. We’re looking to see if the emotional environment around us is going to continue to be safe. So we start looking for disappointment, anger, fear, shame, all of those things.

Or we start looking for approval and then base our own emotions or behaviours around those perceptions," says psychotherapist Israa Nasir, quoted by Well and Good.

The person who is constantly on the lookout for negative signs can develop intense stress and emotional exhaustion. The same applies to the other person, who is constantly being analysed and questioned about their feelings.This individual can end up losing patience and feeling drained by having to constantly reassure their partner.

If you want to put an end to this kind of "emotional monitoring," psychologist Nicole LePera offers some important advice in a social media post.

Her first tip is to be aware of how often you monitor the emotions of those around you. She also recommends keeping a diary of your thoughts and feelings, spending time alone, and focusing on your own needs.She suggests practicing a certain emotional tolerance by offering to help if someone seems to need it, but on the condition that you leave them alone if they wish. Finally, the psychologist stresses the importance of not constantly striving for perfection. – AFP Relaxnews

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