Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker: Life Coach for Empaths, Highly Sensitive People & People Pleasers

Navigating Emotional Intelligence Gaps In Relationship

December 21, 2023 MaryAnn Walker Episode 74
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker: Life Coach for Empaths, Highly Sensitive People & People Pleasers
Navigating Emotional Intelligence Gaps In Relationship
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome back, everyone! In today's episode, MaryAnn Walker delves into a common struggle experienced by many helpers, healers, and people pleasers—the challenge of navigating emotional maturity gaps in relationships. MaryAnn explores the problems arising from differences in emotional intelligence levels and offers valuable insights on resolution strategies.

Main Ideas:

  1. Self-Reflection on Emotional Maturity:
    • You are the only person you can control. Focus on your own ability to show up in emotionally mature ways.
    • Even evolved individuals can exhibit emotional immaturity at times, especially when sick or under stress.
  2. Defining Emotional Maturity:
    • Emotional maturity involves understanding, managing, and expressing emotions constructively.
    • Emotional immaturity signifies underdeveloped emotional skills and an inability to name or communicate emotions and/or needs.  
  3. Resolving Communication Styles:
    • Emotionally mature partners create safety for open communication.
    • Less emotionally mature individuals practice gradual expression and non-defensive receptivity to feedback.
  4. Navigating the Empathy Gap:
    • Emotionally developed partners often assume that because they have an easier time empathizing, that others should, too. This is not always the case. Be patient and accept people where they are on their emotional intelligence journey. 
  5. Effective Conflict Resolution:
    • Differences in emotional intelligence are often magnified during conflict.
    • Seek to find common ground, putting both partners on the same team, and focusing on shared goals.
  6. Healthy Coping Mechanisms:
    1. Recognize buffers and practice self-regulation to avoid impeding personal and relationship  growth.
  7. Understanding Emotional Needs:
    • Recognizing ones own motional needs improves communication as well as relationship quality.
    • Take ownership of your emotions rather than blaming others.
  8. Balancing Emotional Styles:
    • Acknowledge that there are differences when it comes to processing emotions . Respect each other's processing styles.
    • Mutual understanding, patience, and learning can create healthy connection.

Remember, emotional intelligence is a journey, and understanding, patience, and a willingness to learn are essential in building healthier connections. If you resonate with the episode, come back next week to learn 10 ways to increase emotional intelligence!

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Built-in Microphone:

Well, hello and welcome back So today we're going to be talking about a struggle that many of the helpers healers and people pleasers experience in life And that's kind of the idea of what happens when you're in relationship with somebody and there's a bit of a gap When it comes to the individual levels of emotional intelligence or emotional maturity, it can kind of create a few very common problems. We're going to talk about those today, as well as how to resolve them. And also, just so you know, next week, we're going to be talking about 10 ways to increase your own personal level of emotional intelligence. So if today's episode resonates with you, make sure that you're subscribed so that you can come back and listen next week for that episode. Now, as I talk about these gaps in relationship, I really want you to self reflect because the truth is you are the only person that you have control over. And even the most evolved beings can occasionally act through that lens of emotional immaturity. So while it's really easy to listen to this episode and think, Oh, well I am the emotionally involved one. Just know that there's going to be days and times where even if in general you are very emotionally mature when you're sick or when you're tired or when you're stressed, it's a lot harder to show up through that emotionally mature lens. So, kind of listen to each of these different examples and just notice if you're showing up maybe through a lens of emotional immaturity in any of these situations. Okay, so first let's kind of define what it means to be emotionally mature. So in short, emotional maturity, it refers to the ability to understand and manage and express one's own emotions in a balanced and constructive way. So by extension, this means that emotional immaturity, that's kind of referring to a state in which somebody has maybe not fully developed. the necessary emotional skills and behaviors expected of somebody at their age or stage of life. So people who are emotionally immature, they may struggle to understand, manage, or express their own emotions in a healthy and constructive way. So when an emotionally mature person and a less emotionally mature person are in relationship, There are some challenges that are pretty common that kind of stem out from these differences. So these can be differences in communication styles, in empathy levels, in coping mechanisms. So we're going to be talking about what problems arise when these different levels of emotional maturity show up in a relationship what conflicts happen and how can we resolve those conflicts in a relationship? So the first problem that we'll address is communication styles. Now, the problem here is that emotionally mature people, they generally value open and honest communication, while those with less emotional maturity, they tend to really struggle to express their feelings or really understand the emotional needs of themselves or their partner. And quite frankly, it's because they don't know how to navigate and communicate their own emotions, that that's what makes it a lot harder for them to even acknowledge or understand what their partner or friends experience is, and it makes it a lot harder for them to really actually sit in that space. So that can create that conflict in relationship. So even though they do genuinely care about their partner, their discomfort around not knowing how to communicate when it comes to that feeling space, it can really shut down the emotionally immature partner and really make it harder to communicate at all. And this can leave the more emotionally mature partner feeling abandoned and misunderstood and. It can really shut down both parties. And essentially it's just kind of kicking the problem down the road for who knows how long. And that means that neither party is able to experience resolution just because of these communication differences. So how can this be resolved? By creating safety and security for both parties. Now, to do this, the emotionally mature partner, they can encourage open communication and really work to create a safe and non judgmental space. That's their job. And the less emotionally mature person, their goal is to express themselves gradually, right? Kind of practice and lean into it. It is a process. And also, work to be receptive to feedback. Often times, it's receiving feedback when we really create that resistance, especially when we're acting through the lens of emotional immaturity. It creates these boundaries, or these barriers rather, where it makes it harder for us to receive what they're saying, because, no, no, no, no, no, you're wrong, I'm right, it becomes very black and white, and we really push it away. So really work to be really patient with yourself, and work to gradually express yourselves and be open. to receiving feedback. Remind yourself that everybody learns at their own pace and practice that love and acceptance and be patient and really trust the process. All right, problem number two. the empathy gap. Now it can be easy for the more emotionally developed partner to have a higher level of expectation when it comes to being heard and understood and empathized with. Because it's become relatively easy for them to actively listen and to really understand where people are coming from, then it's easy for them to assume that this should be easy for everybody, right? If it's easy for me, you should be able to do this too. It's so easy, but everybody learns in their own way and in their own time. And life experience and childhood upbringing can play a really big role when it comes to someone's ability to understand and empathize with others. which really impacts how they respond to not only what you're sharing about you, but also the feedback that they might be receiving about them and how they feel when they're receiving that feedback. They're going to really struggle with some of those emotions. So everybody learns differently. Some people are able to easily understand why somebody feels the way that they do, and other people, they really need it. explained to them in a more explicit way. And this is actually a great opportunity for both partners. The partner who's very good at feeling and empathizing. They now have an opportunity to learn how to mentally and verbally articulate their emotions and what's coming up for them. While the one who is generally more in their head, they now have an opportunity to practice feeling and processing their own emotions, which also helps them to better empathize with others. So recognizing the challenges and being patient with both of these journeys, it can help to create connection and empathy. And this creates a space where the more emotionally mature individual, they can actively communicate their feelings and needs, and a less emotionally developed person has the opportunity to make a conscious effort to listen actively and to ask questions and learn how to recognize how they feel and respond when somebody shares. And also practice responding to, rather than reacting to, the partner's emotional state. All right, so problem number three, conflict resolution. Now, conflict resolution is often where the differences in emotional intelligence become ultra magnified. Magnified. So essentially both parties are experiencing some very big emotions. But one is better able to self regulate, and also better able to calmly articulate what is going on for them. Emotional immaturity in this case, it might look like being highly reactive, or being unable to understand or even accept that somebody else could have a different experience than what they're experiencing, that somebody might have a different perspective than what their perspective is, and they're more than likely more concerned with who is right. Rather than what is right and this can lead to a lot of finger pointing and drawing lines in the sand So to speak rather than putting both parties on the same team But now they're on opposite sides and they're competing for each other and when this happens It's really hard to create a win win scenario It becomes a win lose scenario and this often leads to accusations and it really escalates Escalates the conflict. So when this happens, either things really escalate verbally, or maybe the emotionally immature partner, then maybe they shut down completely and then they just go about life like nothing happened. But neither of these approaches actually lead. to resolution. So if you find yourself in this situation, work to find the common ground. Rather than drawing a line in the sand, put yourselves on the same team and remind each other what your shared goals are. So for example, you might say something like, Hey, I know that we want our kids to be happy and healthy. We both want that. And it appears that right now in this particular instance, we have different ideas around how to parent to make that happen, but we are on the same team and we have the same goal about what it is that we want to ultimately create. So let's focus on that. Or maybe you want to say something like, Hey, I love you, and we are on the same team. We both want to connect, so let's talk about what that means for each of us, so that we can find that common ground. Or maybe you say something like, Hey, I know that we both want more peace in this relationship, so let's talk about how we can create that. It's putting both of you on the same side, so you're looking at So we're going to be looking at the heart of this problem and focusing on what is right rather than focusing on who is right and creating that division. And this will help both parties to feel a sense of safety as they work to express their individual wants and desires so that they can both consciously move forward in that relationship. Alright, problem number four, coping mechanisms. Now, emotionally mature individuals, they have more than likely taken the time to develop healthy coping mechanisms. They're able to identify their needs and that increases the chances that they're able to get those needs met either by themselves or other people. So identifying the actual need, it looks like knowing when you need a nap and actually taking a nap. It looks like recognizing when your physical ailments are impacting your relationship and taking the time to maybe manage your pain or manage your hunger. Or maybe your body temperature, maybe you're too hot or too cold, and it's making you more irritable. It's noticing, okay, what's actually going on for me. So you can address the actual need. This is what emotional maturity looks like when somebody is acting through the lens of emotional immaturity, their tendency is to buffer away their emotions rather than actually processing them and this temporarily numbs the emotions, but these emotions are not going to go away. They're going to be there until they're fully processed. So some common buffers are scrolling online, gaming, TV, binge eating, shopping, or even sex. And one sign that you're buffering is that there's a big urgency behind these actions, right? It's, I really need this. I need to escape. I just need to get away. That can be a big indicator that you're using those actions. There aren't necessarily bad things, but when you're using them to buffer away your emotions, it can actually impede your personal growth as well as your relationships. So when this happens, ask yourself, What am I feeling? And what is this emotion there to teach me? So, different coping mechanisms, it can be a challenge in a relationship, because we tend to judge the other for how they process. or how they are not processing as the case may be. So notice that you might have different coping mechanisms and remember that you are only responsible for you. So you do what you need to do to self regulate. Take that nap. Eat a healthy snack. Call a friend. Do what you need to do to calm down your own nervous system and get your prefrontal cortex online. And it is always an option to say to your partner, hey, things feel a little tense. Is it okay if we go on a walk and grab a bite to eat before talking about this further? And then respect their answer. Maybe they don't want to eat or go on a walk, but instead they want to scroll and numb out instead. You do what you need to do and let go of the idea that you can control the other person. When somebody is feeling activated, then they're a lot less likely to receive your ideas on what is needed anyway. So then once both parties are in a more receptive space, then you can continue the conversation. All right, problem number five, understanding emotional needs. It takes practice, but coming to better understand your own needs can significantly improve communication and the quality of the relationship. So, if someone struggles with emotional maturity, then they tend to make everything that they're experiencing somebody else's fault. So, when this happens, essentially, they are expecting the other person. To regulate their emotions for them. And just so you know, this is impossible. We can placate other people, but we cannot process for them. And trying to do so, it actually enables the emotional immaturity rather than actually helping them to break through it, because they're never given the opportunity to learn how to navigate those emotions on their own. So here's some examples of emotional immaturity, and as I give these examples, notice how this places the emotion 100 percent on the other person rather than taking ownership of these emotions. So they might be saying things like, You make me so mad. If you were more considerate, I wouldn't feel this way. Or, it's all your fault that I'm stressed out, you never support me. So if you find yourself making comments like these, you might be slipping into emotional immaturity. So here are some ideas on ways that you can rephrase these comments through the lens of emotional maturity. So rather than saying, you make me so mad, maybe you could say, I'm feeling anger right now and I think I need some time to process my emotions. Rather than saying, if you were more considerate, I wouldn't be so stressed out. Then you might want to say something like, hey, I had a challenging day, and I'm really struggling with my mood. Many things happened at work today that aren't your fault, and I recognize that when I walked in and I saw the socks on the floor, I really made a bigger deal out of it than they actually are. So I think I need some time to regroup. Instead of saying, it's all your fault that I'm stressed because you never support me, maybe you could try saying, I'm feeling really unsupported right now. And I'm not sure how to accomplish everything on my to do list. Would you be able to help the kids with the homework tonight so I can finish up a few things? It's recognizing what your need is and taking ownership of that. And then yes, you can actually make requests from that space. But it will feel more like a request and less like a demand when you're able to come at it through that lens of emotional maturity. So remember that oftentimes the brain, it wants to be right. even more than it wants to be happy. So remind yourself to take some time to reflect on what your actual needs are when you're feeling triggered, and this can help to bring that prefrontal cortex back online and increase your own level of emotional maturity. Alright, problem six. Balancing emotional styles. So sometimes we just process emotions differently, and that's okay. I saw an article once that said that the reason that the odds of divorce were greater For couples who lost a child, it wasn't because of the loss of the child, but rather it was because of the judgment that one person had around how their partner was grieving. So we all feel and process our emotions differently, and it doesn't mean it's wrong just because somebody's processing differently than we are. So work to appreciate and respect each other's emotional styles. Finding common ground and working towards compromise here, it's really essential. And of course, you can always hire a coach or a therapist to help you learn how to navigate your feelings. Um, and then I'm going to talk about how to create a more neutral space around how someone else is processing their feelings. And that can be very helpful and help to create a more neutral space. You know, a safe space in a coaching session for addressing and navigating those differences from that place of calm. Remember that in any relationship, understanding, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt are crucial. Both parties can benefit from working together to bridge the gap between these emotional intelligence levels. And that can help to foster a healthier and more fulfilling connection for both. So just notice for yourself, if you find yourself being more focused on who is right than what is right, then you might be sliding into emotional immaturity and you might actually be drawing battle lines rather than boundary lines. And this is significantly more likely to happen when you're feeling tired, sick, stressed, or otherwise in overwhelm.

Built-in Microphone-1:

But as you practice asking yourself, Hey, what is the actual need here? It not only helps you to fulfill your own needs, but it also allows the one that you are in relationship with to have the opportunity to fulfill your need for you, because now you have actually articulated it, rather than just letting them take shots in the dark, and just hoping that it fixes everything. You've been more clear, and clear is kind.

Built-in Microphone:

So, if you found this week's episode helpful, I just want to remind you that next week I will be sharing 10 ways to deepen your own personal level of emotional intelligence. Because the truth is, while generally it is true that one partner may have more emotional intelligence than the other, we all struggle at one point or another. And I don't know anybody who doesn't get ruffled and acts through that lens of emotional immaturity at times, myself included. So make sure that you're subscribed so that you can be the first to hear when that episode drops.

Built-in Microphone-2:

Now just one more comment before we close out for the day, but you ultimately get to decide who you are in relationship with and you get to decide which things you're willing to work through and which things might just be a little bit more than you can handle this time. So these things are great when there's a little bit of a gap when it comes to emotional maturity and emotional intelligence, but if you need a bit more support, I highly encourage you to come and work with either a coach or a therapist.

Built-in Microphone-3:

Well, thank you so much for being here today. And Hey, if you enjoy what you have found here, would you please consider either leaving me a review or sharing an episode with a friend?

Built-in Microphone:

It really does help me to get the word out and help more people. And as always, if you find yourself in need of a little bit more emotional support or if you're wanting to deepen your own personal level of emotional intelligence. Come and work with me. I have two spots that are going to be opening up for the new year, and I would love to work with you. So right now, I'm offering six weeks for 6. 25, and I think that you'll be blown away by the massive results that we can create in those six weeks. So if you would like one of those two spots, come and find me on social media, or visit my website, maryannwalker. life, to apply to work with me now, and I'll see you there. All right, I hope you have a great week, and let's talk soon. Bye now.

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Hey! Before you go, I want to tell you about something that I have available right now. Now, the day that this episode is dropping is the winter solstice. And the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. That means that it's the day when we experience the least amount of daylight. And it has the longest night. Now I love doing rituals at my house. And one of the rituals that we really enjoy doing as a family is really talking about the winter solstice and using it as a metaphor for life, talking about how we all experienced darkness. And sometimes that darkness can last a pretty long time, but the light does come. So because of this, I have created a winter solstice reflection journal. This has 25 props in it to really support you through the winter solstice and help you to shift your mindset on these dark days, and also help you to see the light and to really nurture that within self. So click the link in the show notes and that will take you to my Winter Solstice Reflection Journal. This includes 25 prompts to support you during this time of darkness as we all seek towards the light. And it also has a little ritual guide in it to help you to create a ritual. Now you can do this either by yourself or you can do it with your friends and family. It can be really fun to include community. But yeah, you can come and download that for 11. So again, I will put the link in the show notes so that you can come and check it out. So, all right. I hope you enjoy. Happy winter solstice.