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Are You an Emotional Gusher?

emoticonsDr. Judith Orloff

In my practice as a psychiatrist and in my personal life, I've known many people whom I call "emotional gushers." Gushers are experts at knowing their emotions and were born to share them. No one has to wonder where they're at. Elated, bored, miserable, they tell you. What you see is what you get. They tend to be spontaneous, direct, authentic and trusted confidants. The gusher unloads stress by verbalizing it.

I, for one, know how freeing this can be. I am grateful to my treasured circle of friends, who deserve trophies for listening to my fears, hopes and quandaries over the years. However, some gushers get antsy when there's no one to tell. Also, they may resist making independent decisions, trusting their intuition or staying emotionally grounded without external input. I have a patient who's an aide in a convalescent home, a true friend to the elderly. Though he finds helping others gratifying, the setting can be arduous: understaffing and budget cuts compromise the care he gives to the dementia-afflicted or physically disabled, a brutal neglect he had difficulty stomaching. Each night, he depended on being able to vent his stress to his wife and could work himself into tremendous anxiety if she wasn't around. My patient didn't know how else to calm down and release stress until I taught him the techniques in this article. In addition to healthily venting, he learned to tap the power within to find inner peace.

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In my book "Emotional Freedom" I describe the gusher as well as three other common emotional types, which include the Intellectual, the Empath and the Rock. It's important to know which type you are to be empowered emotionally. To determine if you're a gusher, take the following quiz.

Quiz: Am I A Gusher?

Ask yourself:

  • Is it easy for me to express my emotions?
  • Do I get anxious if I keep my feelings in?
  • When a problem arises, is my first impulse to pick up the phone?
  • Do I need to take a poll before finalizing a decision?
  • Are my friends often telling me, "Too much information"?
  • Do I have difficulty sensing other people's emotional boundaries?

If you answer "yes" to one to three of these questions, you possess some gusher tendencies. Responding "yes" to more than three suggests that this is your emotional type.

Recognizing that you're a gusher enables you to become a better communicator by learning to balance self-sufficiency with emotional expression. Sometimes gushers are so hungry to share that they turn people off. At a party, in the market, they're all over you, compulsive emotional purgers. (The joke goes that such motormouths qualify for the Twelve-Step Program On-and-on-and-on-and-on!) Although it's liberating to voice feelings, a gusher must strike a balance between healthily emoting and drawing on the wisdom within. Consider the following profile summarizing a gusher's traits.

The Gusher's Upside

  • You're emotionally articulate.
  • Negativity doesn't fester in you if you express it to others.
  • You have a supportive network of friends.
  • You value intimate relationships, are a sensitive listener.
  • You deal with hard issues and process them quickly.

The Gusher's Downside.

  • You're a candidate for becoming a drama king or queen.
  • You may turn friends into therapists.
  • You seek external feedback before you consult your intuition for answers.
  • Your need to share excessively may burn other people out.
  • You haven't fully embraced your own inner power or spiritual strengths.

Emotional Action Step: Tips For Gushers To Find Balance

Empower yourself with self-sufficiency. Experiment with centering your feelings before soliciting support. Here's how: First define the upset. Let's say your boss has made mince meat out of your self-worth yet again. Second, ask yourself, "How does this make me feel? Seething? Demoralized? Plotting murder?" Now let yourself experience those emotions uncut, not acting them out, an essential stage before transformation can happen. Third, work with your feelings using these techniques:

  • Set your intention to clear the emotion.
  • Keep exhaling stress and relax your body.
  • Use positive self-talk to love yourself back to center again. Inwardly say, "I did my best. I even deserve points for graciousness." Affirm everything you did right; try to forgive where you might've fallen short, a loving inner dialogue that reinstates your power.
  • Tune in to your intuition to find a solution. Spend a few quiet moments meditating to see what images, impressions or ah-has! come to you about improving the situation.

As a gusher, if you skip these steps and go straight to the phone, you'll cheat yourself out of the opportunity to build the emotional muscles necessary for more freedom and autonomy. Knowledge is power. The most important relationship you'll ever have is with yourself. If this is good, you'll be capable of gratifying relationships with others.



Judith Orloff MD is bestselling author of the new book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011) upon which these tips and article are based. Her insights in Emotional Freedom create a new convergence of healing paths for our stressed out world. An assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, Dr. Orloff's work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine and USA Today.

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