My wife, Karen, said, “Once I learned how my adrenalin floods affected everything I did life became much more enjoyable and easier”.
She has always gone along with what other people wanted, deferred to their wishes and opinions, in order to manage her adrenalin levels. Her happiness came from harmony in her environment, as conflict or even potential conflict, resulted in adrenalin floods. If she perceived that a person may judge her, disapprove of her, be disappointed or feel let down by her, she would feel so dreadful that she would go out of her way to ensure that this did not happen. Once she’s had an adrenalin flood she needs to process it out of her body and “return to normal”. After conflict it takes her a long while to “warm up” again – hence my suggestion of the egg-timer!
Karen experiences her negative emotion intensely (the burden of the highly sensitive person) and avoids any situation that may potentially cause an escalation of that feeling – the avoidant emotional style. She was an obedient teenager (lest her parents be cross with her), a diligent student (lest her teacher think badly of her), helpful to all (lest people dislike her because she was selfish) and a wife that withdrew and internalized in order to avoid conflict. She is learning that her avoidant behavior – the flight response – impacts on me who feels punished and excluded.
I said to Karen, “Because you have an avoidant emotional style doesn’t mean that you have a monopoly on negative emotion”. This is something she needs to be constantly aware of and recognize when considering the impact of her behavior on others. Her appreciation of how she deals with her emotion has improved immeasurably her over all well-being. She feels energized to share with others how managing her avoidant emotional style releases adrenalin from her body making her emotionally well.