Main Takeaways

  • How to destroy connection & emotional health.
  • What do we really fear?
  • Shame. Judgement. Neglect. Rejection.
  • Originally posted 22Oct2019 – LinkedIn Pulse

Shame Judgement Neglect Rejection

4 Common Ways We Destroy Connection and Damage Emotional Health

By Kevin R. Strauss, M.E.

It’s the seemingly little things we often don’t realize how profoundly they impact us over time especially when they occur regularly. We may think we’re just “poking fun” or helping people develop a “thicker skin” but in reality, we’re damaging their emotional health (EH).

Emotional health is easily the most neglected aspect of any health and wellness effort.

Yet EH could very well be responsible for the greatest impact. Furthermore, it is our state of emotional health (i.e. our ability to give and receive love, connection, and belonging) that drives our behavior because when it is compromised it is deeply painful.

A human will do nearly anything to avoid pain (including #suicide) and in the absence of nurturing one’s #emotionalhealth, in the way we need it, we turn to #behaviors in an attempt to compensate. The more extreme the behavior the more emotional pain a person is experiencing.

Below are four critical ways and examples of how we’re destroying each other’s emotional health. (Note: It often begins before age 6.)


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: Pancakes are fine if you want to get fat.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: If it’s as bad as your other ideas I’m going to tell everyone it was yours.


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: I don’t eat unhealthy foods like pancakes.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: There’s really nothing good about your idea.


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: Uh huh (continues looking at phone).
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: Tell me next week. (Then, he/she is never available.)


  • Child: Will you have pancakes for breakfast with me?
  • Parent: No, I need to go to work.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: I’m not interested in your ideas.

These four actions may be the most common ways we hurt someone’s #feelings and damage their EH. They’re especially harmful when they come from people who matter to us like a #parent, teacher, coach, or #boss.

It doesn’t take many instances and a person will stop trying to #share or #connect because the emotional pain hurts too much. Before long, the two disconnect and the relationship suffers. Further, a person will likely attempt to manage their pain through other, often destructive, behaviors such as unhealthy food, alcohol, depression, anxiety, etc.

It’s important to remember that “hurt people [will] hurt people”. So, anyone who is shaming, judging, neglecting or rejecting others likely experienced the same behaviors toward them in their past (and probably during early childhood).

When it comes to #fear, it is the pain of shame, judgement, neglect or rejection that we have been conditioned to fear the most.

The key is to engage with #empathy, #support and #encouragement which can be more constructive and nurture one’s emotional health. Too often, we hurt the one’s we love but we also can be more supportive toward the people we know and care for the most.

By learning about and understanding each other better we are far more likely to appreciate each other’s #perspective and #value them. This, in turn, increases the #connection and strengthens the #relationships.

Now, instead of a downward-spiral of destruction we’ve reversed course and created an upward-spiral that’s constructive. Almost miraculously, the destructive compensatory behaviors decrease and are replaced with more constructive behaviors since our emotional pain is reduced.