Published on August 28th, 2013 | by Kristen Kansiewicz

Feel Trapped by Your Emotions? Here Are Five Steps to Break Free.

Have you ever felt that you are trying to move forward emotionally but get stuck? Perhaps you feel that there are patterns in your life that are just repeating over and over again.

I believe there are five key areas to emotional health, and when we get stuck in unhealthy patterns we fall into “TRAPS.” To get your emotional life on track, let’s take a look at the five aspects of emotional health: Thinking, Relationships, Addictions, Past, and Self-Care.


Are you able to think about your strengths and weaknesses clearly without feeling either prideful or insecure? Do you have a clear sense of how you present yourself to others and how others may see you? Is your understanding and evaluation of events in your life in line with the perspective of others you respect? Clear thinking and self-awareness is a key factor in emotional health.


Are the relationships in your life moving you forward emotionally or dragging you down? Do you interact with others in your life (friends, family, children) in a way that is positive and constructive or are your relationships filled with conflict? Do you have at least two or three friends with whom you can share important feelings? Moving forward emotionally is hard when we have unhealthy relationships or not enough social support.


Do you have anything in your life on which you are dependent? Addictions can be to substances like nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, food, or drugs as well as to activities like sex, gambling, watching television, and spending excessive time online. You might be tempted to skip over the idea of Addictions if you have not been addicted to drugs, but it is important to look for any area in your life in which you may be dependent.


The past can continue to impact our present-day lives. For some, there is past trauma or abuse that continues to shape how they see themselves and others. For others, their own mistakes of the past fill them with so much guilt that they feel they can never truly forgive themselves and be free. Are you living in total freedom from your past today?


Sometimes the everyday, mundane routines can be as critical to your emotional health as any of the other four areas. Habits such as healthy eating, regular exercise, good sleep patterns, clear task and time management, and even proper money management are essential to a balanced emotional life. Are you handling stress well day-to-day, and do you have positive coping skills like journaling or hobbies?


If taking a look at these five key areas of emotional health has brought to mind some “traps” in your emotional life, there are important steps you can take to move towards health and freedom.

First, write down your thoughts regarding your emotional life and the five TRAPS.

Second, take time to meet with a counselor or mentor to share your thoughts and observations. Ask him or her for feedback on ways you can grow in your emotional and mental health.

Third, if there is an area that you have identified as full of TRAPS and you feel the problem is life-controlling or unbeatable, seek professional counseling. If you are not sure who to call, see our article “How to Find the Right Mental Health Care Professional.”

Antique bear trap image from the Minnesota Historical Society under a Creative Commons license

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