How Shutting Down is Killing Your Relationship

“We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions – Brene Brown”

You shut down, because a feeling that’s painful is coming up to the surface and you don’t want to deal with it right now.

You put up a wall to shut every one else out. You’re hurt. You want to be by yourself. You want to lick your wounds and put yourself back together again. You don’t want anyone to see you when you’re in this space. You don’t know what one compassionate or kind word would do – if it would break down all the carefully put together pieces – or if it might make you cry. You’d rather remain unseen.

You may add a window and you allow a select few people to take a peek and connect with you, because that connection feels safe for you. Years later… shutting down, disconnecting, putting up your walls becomes a default mode of protecting yourself, of taking care of yourself in relationships. You’re not even sure how it got there. It feels… almost natural… automatic.


This was my journey as a teenager into my early twenties when I did not have the tools to cope with my emotional triggers. I dare say, I did not know I was triggered – I was caught in and experienced the aftermath of being triggered.


Triggers often bring up past hurts that have not been healed to the surface, to be acknowledged and released. The cost of not doing this inner work, is the risk of repeating these patterns and experiences in your life as well as attracting the same thing in a relationship until you realise that your trigger, and your partner, is here to show you.


It was not until I came across Brene Brown’s work that I learnt about numbing, wearing a straight jacket and about perfectionism. I learnt how my self-protecting mechanisms were causing me more harm and pain, than they were helping me. Shutting down blocked myself from experiencing true joy and connection in my life.


“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.” — Pema Chödrön



The other perspective that you may not realise is that when you shut down to protect yourself, you are shutting others out. In a relationship when your partner does not understand what’s going on with you, they may internalise this experience to think that they have done something wrong to cause this problem, experience self-blame and a sense of helplessness. The repeated experience of this process in a relationship can cause a lot of tension that could build up and explode in the long-term.


At times both partners are triggered. Other times, only one partner is triggered. It takes a partner who is self-aware, to stand in their sense of self-worth and knowing to be able to reflect back to you, what they see is happening.

A deeper level of insight I had gained recently is that… when I chose to disconnect from my partner by shutting down or withdrawing to ‘protect’ myself so that I can avoid feeling hurt or pain… I was disconnecting from myself, within myself. That is why there is emotional pain, because I am killing the one thing that I desire the most – a deep connection to myself and the Divine.


“By closing your heart you are not really protecting yourself from anything, you are just cutting off your source of energy and locking yourself inside.” — Michael Singer, Untethered Soul


When you are triggered, or when there is rupture in the relationship, the way to solve the problem is not by shutting down your emotions or by shutting your partner out. When you shut your partner out in a relationship, you are closing your heart to love. You are choosing to sit in the fear or pain from your past experiences.


The way out of this is to be aware that you are wanting to close your heart. In that moment, you get to make the choice to keep your heart open. If you realise you have closed your heart on hindsight, then choose to open your heart again. Open your heart and connect with your emotions. Open your heart to connect with love and connect with your partner. Name what you are feeling. Share it with your partner. Speak your truth.


It takes courage to show your partner the the inside of your heart. Sharing your heart’s content with another human being, may sound scary, yet that is what most of you desire. A deep connection. It’s a sacred process of sharing your truth and who you really are, with another.


If you’re ready to begin working on your emotional triggers and fears in your relationships, I invite you to sign up for a session here: Relationship Triggers Session.

If you would like a safe space to practice sharing your heart’s voice, I invite you to join me here: Flow of Appreciation. I’ll see you inside the circle!




How ‘Feeling Good’ becomes a Subtle Addiction to Avoid Pain

“Sadness does not want to be healed, it wants to be held. And the healing is in the holding, ironically – Jeff Foster”

‘Feeling good’ is a hook and let me tell you, I had been hooked big time, for a long time.

As a sensitive and empathic woman, I did not deal with my ‘negative’ emotions so well. I often felt like I had emotions from extreme ends of the scale – superbly happy and extreme sadness with lots of tears. You’d recognise this as the rollercoaster ride of emotions.

When I came across the practice of appreciation as a tool to practice self-love, I was swept away by it! I chose to focus on it and shifted my mindset to always look for the positive aspects in other people or in various situations. Before I wrote a list of my Appreciations – I allowed my emotions to bubble to the surface. This practice was about allowing the emotions to float up and making peace with the situation or the people involved. Abraham talks about allowing the cork to float instead of holding it under the water.


When I presumably ‘failed’, I looked back at the situation and listed what I could appreciate on hindsight. Not only was I sensitive and empathetic, I also had perfectionistic traits where I wanted to do this one thing (appreciation) really well. I realised that I had been practicing being ‘perfect’ at the art of appreciation and had masked what I wasn’t doing so well – pushing it completely into a blind spot.

I wasn’t being true to myself about how I was managing my deeper emotions of fear and pain.


It was very subtle – and I would suppress or steamroll over these uncomfortable feelings – to look at the bright side of things, at appreciation, at ‘raising my vibration’ and wanting to be happy or feel good. The missing piece in my practice was about true acceptance of how I was feeling in the moment.

What was interesting is that my partner had told me this, a long time ago. As my most loving mirror into myself, he showed me, what I was then not able to see or accept yet. As you can imagine, I was triggered by his comment, so I chose to ignore and conveniently left this part of my practice out of our conversations. Naturally my path has now brought me deeper awareness and understanding to this situation.


I’ve learnt that… being attached to or hooked into ‘positive’ feelings or things is like being hooked into what triggers you in relationships. When you are triggered by a loved one, a chain reaction is set into motion and you automatically turn to blame or shutting down. It’s almost like you can’t stop yourself from what you’re about to say or do.

When you’re hooked into ‘positive’ feelings or things and you face moments of not feeling high vibe or happy, you fall back onto the opposite end of the scale, feeling low, at times beating up on yourself with your self-talk. You may even begin to internalise it to mean that you are ‘less than’.


Why does this happen? When you truly allow yourself to be with deeper emotions like fear or pain, you are a faced with a sense of uncertainty and lack of control. At times, this lack of control is scary. It’s like a fish out of water, struggling. This space of ‘struggle’ is uncomfortable and you’re not taught the skills to swim in these waters. As a result, many of you choose to bury these painful emotions, deeper into the water and mud, skip on the surface and continue with your life – until something happens again to remind you of what’s lurking underneath the surface.


I want to remind you that you’re not ‘less than’ who you truly are. You’re feeling differently today than you were yesterday and that’s ok – you are enough. You are worthy and deserving. How you feel at any particular time does not define your inherent worth!

Having ‘no control’ can also be seen as an invitation to open, to completely surrender to what is happening ‘to’ you – or what ancient wisdom says, what is happening for you. Instead of being afraid of deeper emotions, embrace them. Know that every experience you have, is perfect for you right now.


There’s nothing more important on our spiritual path than developing gentleness to oneself — Pema Chödrön


Today, recognising my emotions and needs, acknowledging them, allows me to meet myself where I am. It guides me towards making decisions without expecting myself to be more than or other than who or how I am showing up on that day. This is where acceptance comes in. It’s no wonder at all, that my word of the year 2018 is Acceptance!

One of the biggest things I’ve learnt is to speak to myself, softly, about my negative or less than happy emotions. Acknowledging that I am sad or angry (without the frustration or annoyance), truly being with these emotions in my body, sitting with them and being ok with that.


In addition to the practice of self-appreciation, I have expanded into the practice of self-compassion. This is the spiritual practice that I am exploring in my Facebook group as well. If this is a daily practice that you would like to create in your life, I invite you to join me here: Flow of Appreciation. I’ll see you inside the circle!