One of the things I love to do with my clients is to get really down and dirty with their emotional landscape. Well, duh right?! Isn’t that what therapy’s for?
Well yes, it is but I love taking it lots more steps further and get really familiar with your darkest, deepest secrets and all those nooks and crannies where anxiety and depression can live.
What’s this mean to you? Well, basically it just means that we’ll be getting super clear and comfortable with all the things that make up your total wellness self. Lovely!!
So … one of the things I love to figure out is what are your emotional Achilles heels? This is key to learning how to deal with emotions, especially if they touch on trauma.
Keep reading to learn how to identify and process emotions so you can stop giving them the power to ruin your day!
Emotional Achilles Heel Meaning
In mythology, Achilles was a great war hero. The thing that made him so special was his strength. Nothing seemed to hurt him. In fact, his enemies wondered if it was possible to kill him at all.
There was a reason for that!
Achilles’ mother, Thetis, was immortal, but Achilles was not. Thetis decided to dip her baby into the River Styx to make him invulnerable to death and injury. She held onto his heel while dipping him in the water so he would not float away. That meant that every part of his body was fortified…
…except for his heel, where her hand had been.
Thus, an “Achilles Heel” refers to a person’s weakest spot. It is the place where you are most vulnerable.
Your achilles is also that tendon which connects your leg to your foot (basically) and from which you derive your ability to move from. If your Achilles heel is hurt or torn, it’s very hard to function as you used to do without crippling pain and limited movement.
Your emotional Achilles heel is the topic, feeling, or fear that sets off your body’s trauma response.
AN EMOTIONAL ACHILLES HEEL FUNCTIONS THE SAME WAY AND WILL LITERALLY KNOCK YOU ON YOUR ASS IF YOU’RE UNAWARE IT’S COMING (THEY LOVE THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE!)
The Connection Between Emotion and Vulnerability
Those times when you have a strong visceral reaction to an event that doesn’t make sense is usually a clue that an emotional Achilles heel is working behind the scenes.
So let’s look at how you know this is happening: ever had one of those days (or weeks sometimes) where you feel like a Mack truck has run you over and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going? Where you can’t stop crying or panicking?
This is the red flag of all mothers: that shit just got real and dirty.
It’s your brain’s way of telling you to SLOW DOWN and figure this out before things get worse (as if it were that easy!!).
My opinion on this is that knowing what the hell just happened, will make all the difference in being able to manage your emotions and then eventually control them. Winning!
Examples of Emotional Achilles Heels
To give you some ideas of what some common emotional Achilles heels are, here’s a quick list of examples:
- Fear of the unknown
- Feeling trapped
- Being ignored
- Feeling left out
- Loud noises or suddent movements
These are just a small sampling of all the different emotions that you may hate having and that you will do whatever you can to avoid feeling them.This avoidance is known as a trauma response.
Trauma Response Definition
Think about the last time you felt a little uneasy. It might have been in a haunted house, or even while walking home alone at night.
Suddenly, you hear a sound, and it sets you off!
The way you respond to fear and discomfort is your body’s trauma response. You probably reacted in one of four ways:
- With the FAWN trauma response: A fawn is a precious baby deer. It’s the sweetest, most innocent creature on planet Earth. Nobody would ever hurt a cute baby fawn, right?
That’s why some people’s response to trauma is to fawn. They become agreeable, making themselves as kind, pallatable, and inoffensive as possible. Often, this behavior keeps them temporarily safe.
- With the FREEZE trauma response: Sometimes, your body’s way of handling emotional processing is to not handle it. You might shut down, become nonverbal, or struggle to make decisions.If the threat can’t see you, it can’t hurt you, right?
- With the FLIGHT trauma response: When you’re uncomfortable, your instinct might be to head for the hills! Those whose response is flight tend to extract themselves from negative environments.You might literally run away from danger, run away from home, or simply escape to the bathroom. Wherever you go, escaping discomfort is your top priority.
- With the FIGHT trauma response: Some people’s first instinct is to protect themselves at all costs. That might mean running into a confrontation with guns blazing or arguing. Usually, some amount of violence is involved.
Afterward, you might feel shame about your behavior. Fighting might keep you safe, but it rarely feels great.
The way you respond to trauma is worth identifying and even unlearning. These responses can prevent you from confronting challenges. Working with a counselor is a great way to learn more constructive coping skills.
Tackling Your Emotional Achilles Heels
I find that people have anywhere from 5 to 10 Emotional Achilles Heels on average. Taking some time to do recon on what your Achilles heels are, will help you greatly in the future!
I always tell my clients: the more information you have, the more power you have. If you want, leave your Achilles heels in the comments so we can add more to our list.
Ready to talk? You can book an appointment online, even if you’ve never seen a counselor before. We’ll match you with the right professional so you can begin your journey.