Has Anyone Had and Conquered This Issue?

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  anomalocaris 10 months ago.

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  • #51765

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    I should start this by saying that I’m not an emotional person. I was taught from very early childhood that emotion was weakness, and any public display of it was distasteful at best. As a result I was never comfortable around people who were in a highly emotional state — I just have no idea what to do with them. Later I got involved in POW work where my mentors constantly reminded me of how important it was to never let anyone get an emotional reaction from you. I’ve been referred to as “Vulcan” more than once. So I don’t think this has to do with being overly emotionally sensitive. I think it’s a social/performance anxiety issue.

    The problem is, when I’m talking with people, I will suddenly find myself on the verge of tears, and it’s very difficult to get words out. I have to pause, take some deep breaths, or a sip of water, and then try to continue. People mistake it for me being overly emotional about the subject, which is really embarrassing. Recently I had to be interviewed by a major radio program, and most of it had to be edited out for this reason, but it can also happen when I’m speaking with people I’m normally comfortable with. I’m doing more and more educational outreach these days because of my rattlesnake work, but I often turn down opportunities, just to avoid the potential embarrassment.

    Has anyone else encountered this issue and found a way to deal with it?

  • #51778

    Lys
    Participant

    Maybe you absorb/mirror other people’s emotions? I have this problem and it’s still very hard to take a step back even when I realize the emotion is not coming from me. With a small number of people I can deal, but in a crowd with strong emotions it’s anybody’s guess what I will end up doing. Honestly, the only way I can do public speaking is to memorize my presentation and give it as in a trance, and it works quite well. However, that doesn’t work when I start interacting with people and I have to focus on them. So all I’ve got if this is the problem is to recognize the emotion is not yours, or you have an emotional overwhelm.

    To know if this is likely to be the problem, you can take an emotional intelligence test (Google search for “test recognizing emotions”). If you’ve done POW work, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have very high abilities in this area. I get 90 or even occasionally 100% recognition on these tests, far from average, and it’s a lot less useful than people think it is. Not only I’m short-circuited by others’ emotions, but it’s also easy to make a conjecture based on somebody’s emotional state that has no bearing in reality. Yes, you can sense if people are trustworthy from the first meeting and you recognize emotional vampires right away, but when it takes everybody months and lots of trial and error to see what you see, you can doubt yourself or feel like Cassandra.

  • #51782

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    Very interesting, Lys! I had never considered that possibility, but a lot of it rings true. I won’t do any public speaking at all to a group, but need to get to the point where in a one -on-one snake encounter I can say, “This species is in decline in our area as a result of habitat loss,” without someone thinking I’m going to burst into tears over the issue!

  • #51788

    Lys
    Participant

    Maybe you want to own it, as an intermediary move while you figure this out? You can start by saying that you care deeply about the issue and you can get emotional when thinking of the plight of the poor snakes (or something like that). Nothing wrong with some feeling when it comes to conservation, and people can get over it easily if not surprised. As long as you get the message across, it doesn’t really matter what they think about your emotional state.

  • #51796

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    That’s a good idea too. now you’ve got me thinking creatively about it. I suppose I could also, when I get into that state, pretend that I need to resettle the snake as a distraction and to give me a moment to collect myself. Although the snakes are generally so well-behaved that they’d blow my cover by sitting completely still!

  • #51806

    Lys
    Participant

    Have you seen this book? “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy (https://www.amazon.com/Presence-Bringing-Boldest-Biggest-Challenges-ebook/dp/B00U6DNZK8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8). She gave a TED talk too, I think. The book is all over the place (ADHD warning!), but it has some good thoughts about how we present ourselves to others and the science behind it, and how we can get our message across. One thing I got out of it, and I use, is to remind myself that I have the right to be there and to have my voice heard (the impostor syndrome is alive and well in the ADHD community). I found this prevents some of the self-consciousness that seems to get hold when I try to convince somebody of something. Anyhow, it makes for some good thinking on the subject, because it’s much easier to change the way you present the message than to change yourself, even when you know what’s causing the issue to begin with.

    ETA: I guess what I’m saying is that there are three components here — the initial feeling and its cause, the resulting embarrassment, and the need to get the message across. It’s possible that all three areas might benefit from some creative thinking. And you can tell people that the snakes were about to get up and dance the samba, and they will believe you, that’s how little most know about them 🙂

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Lys.
  • #51868

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    Very cool! Thanks! I’m off to Amazon to check on that now. Probably true about the snakes! Most are surprised to find that my rattleys are smart, social critters 🙂

  • #51977

    ADHDmomma
    Keymaster

    You could have hypersensitivity, which is more common among the ADHD population.

    All the Feelings, All the Time

    Hypersensitivity Is Not Imagined

    Penny
    ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #52191

    Miss.Entropy
    Participant

    Some of the best advice I ever received in University, is when you have to perform or bee in front of people you get anxious. It shows itself in different ways. The day before a performance we were encouraged to watch the saddest movie we could find (by ourselves) and ball our eyes out. It really works!!! Sometimes or bodies just need that kind of release. Sounds like you have years of blockage 😉

  • #52258

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    Thanks to both of you as well! I hadn’t considered hypersensitivity because I’m generally not emotional at all. Didn’t realize it could manifest in a very narrow way. I’ll definitely be looking into it more.

    Never heard that about the movies! Great idea!

  • #52452

    sdr4997
    Participant

    I feel you on the “welling up in tears over non-emotional issues”. I am reading a series of books with my 10 year old called My Sister is a Vampire. Seriously nothing to even get remotely emotional about and I found myself tearing up while reading to her and she was looking at me asking why a vampire feeling like a bat in a bunny hole was so sad to me when it made her giggle. I had no good answer but had to get her to read the next paragraph while I pulled it together so I could continue reading. I will definitely be reading up on the hypersensitivity topic. I wish I had some advice for you, but all I can offer is to know you are not alone.

  • #52456

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    That’s exactly it! It’s actually helpful to know that I’m not the only one!

  • #53600

    bookworm92
    Participant

    When I lived with my parents, I felt like I had to keep my emotions secret, very rarely did they see how I was really feeling. I hate answering what’s wrong, especially when the answer is normally I don’t know, which was unacceptable to my parents. So, I hid it. 5 years ago I moved out, and for about the first two months, I still kept my emotions to myself. And then a big thing happened between my roommates. I didn’t hold back my emotions as much as I had. After that, I very quickly started showing how I really felt, except for when I was at work. It was overwhelming and at first I felt like I wasn’t in control of my emotions anymore, but I have since discovered that I can still control and express an emotion simultaneously. A lesson I think that is normally learned at a young age, but because of my parent’s expectations of emotional displays, I learned to hide instead of let the emotion out without dissolving into hysterical tears or screaming. I still tear up at weird moments, but I do normally have them under some level of control.

  • #65492

    emt
    Participant

    I have posted something titled ” help” here on forums. No one has replied is there anyone here that will at least try, and help? Am I alone here?

    • #65514

      ADHDmomma
      Keymaster

      @emt,

      I don’t see your post anywhere. Please provide a link and I will gladly reply with as much help as I can offer on the subject.

      Penny
      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #69659

    Ntjhu
    Participant

    I’ve had hypersensitivity all of my life, this is what it sounds like to me. I’ve also been in a family that demanded I suppress my emotions! To be around people who do not or would not recognize my emotions was devastating to my life, my health, now that I’m older my hypersensitivity demands to be acknowledged, this article helped me immensely! Applying the advice has helped me to actually be able to reach out again and help those I can in a setting that is more conducive for me. I’ve always known these things, it’s something that I myself could have written, I just didn’t know what it was, hypersensitivity! It was so great to know it had a name.

  • #69717

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    It’s interesting to see that others with the same issue come from similar backgrounds, where any expression of emotion was forbidden.

    • #69994

      mevondras
      Participant

      Your comments about emotions suggest to me that you (and others) may find the books by Brene Brown, an academic/Oprah guest, particularly this one: https://www.amazon.com/Rising-Strong-Ability-Transforms-Parent/dp/081298580X/wwwbrenebrown-20

      The central issue discussed in her books relates to “shame,” the impact it has on us, and how to overcome it. In the book “Rising Strong,” she provides very compelling insights (from her research) that explore how resilient individuals bounce back after setbacks. Part of the equation, she suggests, is a world view that “people are doing the best they can”. Interestingly, applying this notion to how we treat ourself (self-talk and in our self-care) is ultimately about accepting that we “are enough” as we are. This can sound kind of “hokey” at first, but that root intention, to orient oneself that way, has a HUGE IMPACT on how you feel, the experiences you are willing to have, etc.. One of the things I love about her writing is that she is quite open about sharing her own struggles in this regard, so it is clear how to apply the findings to one’s own situation.

      I read the above book through our public library’s online/digital “Overdrive” account; you too might be able to read it that way right now, and without having to necessarily purchase it. I know that for me, another aspect of ADD is that if too many steps are involved to access interesting information/resouces, I rarely make the effort to follow up at a later date, in part because I lose the information, and mostly because, generally speaking, I am most comfortable handling what is directly in front of me as I’m thinking about it; once I shift gears, I’m onto something else.

  • #69991

    mevondras
    Participant

    I think this might be a good question for Dr. Hallowell. From what I understand, the amygdala can misinterpret signals and shift us into “fight or flight”; perhaps this is the case here. I too have had that experience in a professional capacity as a university lecturer (usually in a one-on-one discussion), when I’m discussing an academic topic that I am really passionate about, or when I feel as if I have retrieved from within my “mental archive” some tidbit of information that will help the student better understand whatever topic we’ve been discussing. In my case, I recall having felt as if I was having an allergy attack with watery eyes. I do recall having felt a bit “amped up” (and embarrassed) afterward.

    This is a really interesting discussion, I hope Dr. Hallowell, and others who’ve had this experience might comment!

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by  mevondras.
  • #70081

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    I’ll check out that book. It sounds interesting! Yes, it would be very cool if Dr. Hallowell weighed in on this! My sister, who teaches Psych says it sounds as if anxiety is triggering the parasympathetic system somehow, but can’t tell me why or how to stop it.

  • #70133

    doggtoo
    Participant

    Interesting indeed… I have always been the seemingly insensitive, inconsiderate kid, but had high sensitivities to rejections, seeing innocent animals hurt, or a TV Character die. Weird, I guess. As an adult I was able to carry myself rather well without any emotional issues, until a funeral. As a teen I broke down at one, but then I noticed “extra loads” of emotions that i couldn’t control, and hated that. Happened a few other times; even when i entered a room of saddened persons, I picked up on their emotional states & mirrored them. I tend to stay away from such emotional events, Entertainment & the like… Ppl see it as being antisocial, and my Wife calls me a ‘Vulcan’ or ‘Cyborg’, too. I don’t think it’s funny, but those are fascinating, exciting beings to me. LOL I balled at my Bro-N-Law’s death & funeral, but months later at a dear older spiritual Mother-type funeral, i felt nothing. (didn’t stay for Program; paid respects, offed hugs & Bible encouragement, got a bit teary-eyed mirroring the grieving Son tho). I am worried that I had NO EMOTIONS for myself. Seems bizarre, to me….. I guess that I chose to stop it & bury, or disperse such strong emotions in order to keep functioning. I still feel the barrage of ppl’s emotions in a crowded situation, which may explains Y I choose solitude more often…

    I can get anxious to Public Speaking, but once I get started, I’m great. So, I guess I have conquered by avoidance, or some unknown, unconscious effort on my part that now frees me from a lot of the pain & grief I used to feel from others. I am not sure this helps you, or even makes sense, but I am going to look into my emotional well-being & health to make sure I’m not traumatized or anything… Having ADHD, plus many aspects of Aesperger’s & within autistic realm is complicated!

    Now if only I could get ovr the overwhelming contradicting feelings of loneliness that plague me-! LOLOL My Wife calls me an Enigma & a Paradox..LOLOL

  • #70497

    djt0813
    Participant

    Let me see if I can explain how mine works. I am non emotional, logical, and insensitive..BUT…every now and then something will set me off. It is typically something small, and inconsequential that others would see as no big deal, but for some reason in that moment I can’t control it, and then start obsessing over it. I will become overly sensitive, start crying and not be able to stop which will then turn into uncontrollable fits and anger. When the anger portion hits I will usually go running, play basketball, or some sort of activity. It will last anywhere from 2-6 hours from start to finish. I ultimately get so worn out from it I will lay down and go to sleep. Then wake up feeling fine completely rested and not able to understand why I was set off, acted that way, and embarrassed. It doesn’t happen often, but I hate it when it does..My wife hates it more than I do and she can tell when it starts to come on, she sees my body language change, eyes start to water up, she knows its time to go home.

    • #70501

      mevondras
      Participant

      The scenario you describe above strikes me as being very similar to the “meltdown” of my autistic son. You may have sensitivities to touch/sound/smell that you are not aware of, and when a certain threshold is met by those inputs, your system just can’t take it, and you experience a meltdown. The recommended “recovery” ritual for my son’s meltdowns is to seek a private place in which to decompress; no conversation with anybody during this time. Breathing, doing a favorite activity, or jumping on a mini trampoline might be enjoyed during this time, in the calming place. The key is to withdraw from the inputs; tuning into your body’s reaction to stressors and keeping a record can help figure out what to avoid/expect. My son has a scale for self-assessing his level of emotional intensity (green to red). The idea is to raise self-awareness when the intensity is at a moderate level, in order to ward off the intensity of a complete meltdown.

  • #70864

    ken_whitten2002
    Participant

    I saw a commercial on tv where they described symptoms of crying when not even sad. It almost seemed like a joke but if you were just sensitive I would think you would know. They were talking about crying when it made no sense or didn’t match your feelings. I am going to search for “crying for no reason” but best of luck if I don’t make it back here.

  • #70865

    ken_whitten2002
    Participant

    Pseudobulbar Affect

  • #70867

    ken_whitten2002
    Participant

    Also called emotional lability and there is a connection to adhd. I couldn’t figure out if it was as one person claimed a core symptom of adhd or as someone else said a side effect of adhd medicine. I searched Pseudobulbar affect and adhd. Hopefully that points you in the right direction. The good news is that the reviews for the medicine seemed 90% positive.

  • #70870

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    My sister once mentioned a friend who, after brain surgery, would just break down crying, but in the middle of it would say, “Don’t worry about this. I’m emotional. It’s just a side effect from my surgery.” I think that was pseudobulbar affect, but it wasn’t connected with conversation at all. It would just happen randomly, the way someone with allergies might suddenly have a sneezing fit.

  • #70874

    ken_whitten2002
    Participant

    Talking may be the trigger for you. Best of luck.

  • #70871

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    I just came across this link from a google search. It’s not very helpful because everyone is just saying, “I know! That happens to me too!” But it is interesting that it’s on a forum for social anxiety, which does rather point it back to being anxiety related.

    http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f33/hypersensitivity-crying-too-easily-142294/

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