How To Help A Struggling Family Member
Joy, contentment, anger, and even sadness all seem to be missing in individuals going through this dilemma.
Throughout life, there may be times when our emotions can be difficult to accept. In this process, we may seem to lack the typical emotional responses experienced by a majority of individuals. Joy, contentment, anger, and even sadness all seem to be missing in individuals going through this dilemma. There can be multiple causes behind this absence of emotion, but they vary from person to person. While there are many possible causes, some form of emotional trauma is often the culprit. The loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, and even physical abuse can cause an emotional trauma leading someone to shut down. In these times, it may be difficult to reach someone emotionally, but all hope is not lost. It may be an arduous journey, but there are ways to help someone who is emotionally unavailable, which is also known as emotional detachment. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Especially if the one in need is a family member.
The Root of the Issue
More often than not, those who are experiencing this issue seem to be robotic at times. The “normal” responses experienced by the general public seem to be lacking, even in times when external factors would typically cause more extreme emotional responses. These “typical” responses are known as congruence. This incongruence can often be due to a defense mechanism initiated by emotional or physical trauma. In times of stress, coping mechanisms typically help us to adapt to external situations that may affect our well-being. However, when these situations become too overwhelming, an individual may resort to defensive behavior in avoidance of stress. This can also happen if a person lacks the proper coping mechanisms to deal with stressors. Unfortunately, defense mechanisms exist on a subconscious level and can affect a person’s psychological state. This can ultimately lead to an avoidance of emotions altogether.
While this may be a response to more recent events, in can also be a chronic condition. It can result from trauma experienced earlier on in life, but it can also be a temporary avoidance of more current situations. Someone who is temporarily unavailable may be placing higher priority on other aspects of their life rather than what they’re avoiding at the moment. Be that as it may, it can help to uncover the root cause behind it. However, that takes time and patience. You may even have to seek the help of a professional to guide them through the process of uncovering any underlying causes.
One way to help a family member, or anyone for that matter, is to offer support. This includes emotional and physical support in their current state. You can begin by offering to help with household duties, errands, or to simply talk about anything that surfaces. This may help them to realize that no matter what they’re going through, there is someone there to accept and help them.
Giving space can also be a useful tool of supporting one who isn’t emotionally available. At times, an individual dealing with this dilemma may not want to be bombarded with external stimuli (including emotions), even from others offering support. It can become overwhelming when others are continuously trying to offer help, and can actually exacerbate the issue. They can even feel pressured to do things they don’t necessarily want to do.
Holding space for someone can also be an effective tool when it comes to providing emotional support to someone going through this difficult situation. Holding space is being present with someone while offering unconditional support. This means that any of their thoughts, opinions, needs, or wants are accepted by you without any judgement. This creates a safe space in which they may be comfortable enough to truly be themselves. With time, they may even begin to open up more often.
There isn’t a specific time frame for guiding someone through emotional detachment. It just takes time and effort, and patience. Patience truly is a virtue in this case, and it can serve you well. It can help you to remain calm through your efforts, and it can also help to keep you from becoming pessimistic if you feel there hasn’t been any progress made. Just remember, the goal here is to help someone in need without any attachment to a specific deadline. It takes time.
Seek a Professional
It may also help to seek the assistance of a professional. Therapists, psychologists, and the like are all trained to deal with issues pertaining to the mind. They’re able to work effectively with individuals in order to get to the root of whatever the issue is. Also, if there are any other underlying or pre-existing psychological disorders, a trained professional may be able to help uncover those as well.
When someone becomes unavailable emotionally, it may be difficult to know what to do to help. Especially when it’s a family member that has become detached from their emotions. Fortunately, there are effective ways to assist them in their journey to becoming reunited with their emotions. This includes offering support, holding space, and even giving space. Just remember, patience and persistence are key.