We all have various emotional reactions when it comes to dealing with people we're close to. Although, there's a difference between getting upset and frustration for a moment and feeling overwhelmed by your feelings that you instantly switch to flight-or-flight mode and can't think of anything to say out loud. If you think the latter happens to you often, chances are that you're experiences 'emotional flooding'.
Joree Rose LMFT says, “In its most simple terms, emotional flooding is the experience of being overwhelmed when strong emotions take over, producing an influx of physiological sensations, an increase of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, often resulting in difficulty accessing our resources for calming down.” She added, "When we get flooded, emotions can overtake our present moment experience, triggering a flight/flight/freeze response in our brain and in our body.”
You might also experience an increase in your heart rate and short breaths, feelings of anxiety, a pit in the stomach, tightness in the chest, sweating or difficulty in thinking clearly. Rose says, “There is a reciprocal relationship between the emotional brain and our executive functioning; our emotional brain is located in the center part of our brain, and when it gets triggered, our amygdala, or emotional alarm, fires off, and literally shuts down our prefrontal cortex, which is our most evolved part of our brain and where our tools of logic, reason and rationality reside.”
In other words, anything that has a reasonable response goes out of the window and you suddenly start to feel down and negative thoughts start to cloud your mind with extreme feelings, physically as well as emotionally. This makes it impossible for you to stay grounded.
If in case you're confused while sharing your emotional flooding with someone close to you, you can follow what Rose suggest. She says, “One of my most favorite tools is to name what is arising, whether it’s to yourself, or the person you’re closest with that you want to make sure is supportive of your experience.
“This sounds like, ‘Wow, I’m noticing I’m having a strong reaction with what’s coming up. I’m feeling my heart race, a tightness in my throat making it hard to swallow, and a pit in my stomach. I’m even feeling like I can’t think straight and I’m afraid if I don’t take a minute to just pause and calm myself down, that I’m going to say something I don’t mean or I’m just going to feel worse. Can you be patient with me before finishing this conversation, or can you just give me a hug?’” she ended saying.