Since childhood, I've always had a tendency to watch people, driven largely by curiosity and a desire to understand them better. I strive to gain a deeper understanding of the people I work with so I can be of greater service. I also observe domestic and international leaders, entertainers, and others who have made a significant impact in the world. I feel saddened and angered by those who hold positions of authority who are in office solely for their own selfish ends. Conversely, the people I admire most are those who I feel are working to make the world a better place. Being empathic, I see and feel the strengths of these individuals, but I also sense their emotional wounds, their blind spots, and the corresponding drama playing out in their lives. Some of the most visible examples are recording artists and actors.

While incredibly intelligent, capable, and talented, many high-functioning individuals have struggled in their relationships, often displaying significant dysfunction. Albert Einstein, despite his groundbreaking contributions to physics, had tumultuous relationships with his wives and was emotionally distant from his children. Steve Jobs, despite his technological innovations, was known for his abrasive management style and initial denial of his daughter, creating strained personal connections. Despite being loved by millions, Freddie Mercury, the vocalist of Queen, faced emotional turmoil and exploitation in his relationships. Tina Turner endured severe abuse in her marriage to Ike Turner, but later found resilience and success as a solo artist. Vocalist Whitney Houston struggled with a turbulent marriage to Bobby Brown, compounded by substance abuse issues. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has experienced highly publicized and complicated personal relationships, including multiple marriages and subsequent divorces that often intertwined with his business dealings. Actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger faced public scrutiny and personal failure when his extramarital affair came to light, leading to the end of his marriage. These are only a few of innumerable examples that highlight how professional success does not immunize anyone from personal struggles and emotional challenges.

Despite outward success, the inner emotional lives of these individuals are often fraught with unresolved issues that complicate their relationships and personal happiness. In an effort to function day-to-day, many detach from their pain and vulnerabilities, but this comes at the cost of deeper emotional engagement and healing. When they fail to pay attention to or nurture these parts, it leads to a lack of understanding and healing. Because they have disconnected from the wounded aspects of themselves, parts of them fail to mature, resulting in a form of arrested development.

Tapping Into Different Parts of the Self

High-functioning people are able to tap into the more resourceful aspects of themselves, excelling in their careers due to their ability to utilize the more resourceful and developed parts of their minds. This distinction highlights their competence in specific, often cognitive, domains which are outwardly visible and socially rewarded.

Although we may be intelligent, highly skilled, and capable in many aspects of our lives, we often find that, when forming romantic attachments, we operate from deeper, less visible parts of the psyche that largely exist outside of our conscious waking awareness. These parts often hold a great deal of trauma, repressed emotions, and the dysfunctional family dynamics we internalized during childhood and adolescence. They are also influenced by the romantic relationships we've experienced; from the time we started forming crushes in childhood to our adolescent and adult partnerships. These are parts of ourselves that have not matured, parts that have not had their needs met, and parts that we have largely disconnected from, leaving them in an unhealthy state. Consequently, we tend to attract people into our lives who reflect back to us these wounded parts of ourselves.

Bridging the Gap

For years, I’ve worked with people struggling with anxiety, depression, and the wounds from childhood emotional, physical, and sexual trauma, along with a wide range of physiological health issues. For me, it's incredibly gratifying to see their minds and bodies heal and their lives transformed. I have also had the opportunity to work with many professionals from a wide range of fields, including innovators who have founded startups, other entrepreneurs, people working in the financial industry, physicians, psychotherapists, attorneys, artists, activists, and more.

While many of these individuals excel in their professional endeavors, they often struggle in their personal lives. Despite their success, many haven't adequately dealt with their own emotional wounding, which can hinder their ability to cultivate and maintain meaningful, lasting connections. The purpose of this article is to bridge the gap between the observable success of high-functioning individuals and the often invisible struggles they face with emotional intimacy and vulnerability.

Balancing Professional Success and Personal Relationships

At the age of twenty, I began to apprentice with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors (medicine men) among the Kiowa Tribe. When I began my practice back in the '90s, I never imagined I would serve as a couples therapist, and yet over the years, I have on numerous occasions. While working with both individuals and couples, I soon noticed that highly functioning professionals and their partners face a unique set of challenges in their relationships. Here are some of the more common themes I've noticed playing out in their relationships:

Professionals in high-demand roles often face intense stress and pressure, which can easily spill over into their personal lives. The stress from work contributes to irritability, impatience, emotional unavailability, and exhaustion. Long hours and frequent travel often mean significant time away from partners and family. Long periods of absence can disrupt the emotional connections that are vital for maintaining a healthy relationship and may leave partners feeling neglected or resentful.

For many professionals, career advancement often takes precedence over personal relationships, making it difficult to maintain a work-life balance. Failure to allocate time for their relationships can lead to their deterioration over time. As a result, their partners may feel unloved, secondary or unimportant compared to job commitments.

Some are also perfectionists, a trait that can bring success in their careers but may be detrimental in the context of their personal relationships. Their need for control and perfection sometimes leads to conflicts, as their partners feel judged or controlled rather than loved and accepted.

In many instances, their partners feel as though they're in a relationship with someone who is “emotionally absent.” They often bear the emotional burden of the relationship, leading to a dynamic where they feel overly responsible for the emotional health of the relationship while the high-functioning partner remains distant or disengaged.

Excell in Professional Life, Not in Personal

Most of us were never taught how to work constructively with our emotions, and many never will learn. We learned to cope by numbing, denying, or suppressing uncomfortable feelings. We distract ourselves and, in many instances, avoid the people, situations, and issues that we find uncomfortable. We do so because we haven’t learned a more effective means of coping.

While we may excel in some areas of life, we have a way of disconnecting from and compartmentalizing those feelings and issues we’re not willing to face, along with the more vulnerable or wounded aspects of ourselves. This may help us function in a professional context where it’s not safe to be authentic, but it can also hinder our emotional growth and impede our ability to connect with others. It involves pushing away the vulnerable, wounded parts of the self that need our attention to heal. This separation or disconnect from the feeling aspects of ourselves can prevent us from being fully present and engaged in our intimate relationships.

How Our Emotional Wounds Are Expressed Through Our Relationships

When our emotional wounds are not acknowledged or healed, they can express themselves in our relationships through various maladaptive behaviors. We might struggle with control issues, feeling the need to dominate situations or people to feel secure. Our emotional unavailability can make it difficult for us to truly connect with others, keeping our relationships shallow and unsatisfying. We may find ourselves having sudden outbursts where suppressed emotions explode unexpectedly, causing tension and misunderstanding. Passive-aggressive behavior might become a way for us to express our frustrations indirectly, leading to further confusion and conflict.

All of these behaviors can sabotage our personal connections, preventing us from experiencing the deep, meaningful relationships we truly desire. Only when we are able to recognize and heal our emotional wounds can we transform these behaviors and build healthier, more fulfilling connections.

Lack of Mental Health Literacy

Many of us focus intensely on our professional capabilities while neglecting emotional intelligence and mental health literacy. This gap in knowledge can easily prevent us from recognizing or being fully aware of the emotional wounding and other mental health issues in ourselves and others.

The fact that many have not learned to work constructively with our emotions means that the emotions we suppress, avoid, or fail to process create a blindness that prevents us from clearly seeing the individuals we find ourselves attracted to or get involved with. We're far more likely to form attachments to or get involved with individuals who are highly dysfunctional, have substance abuse issues, borderline tendencies, malignant narcissism, or someone who is mentally unstable.

Because we lack the ability to access and process our authentic emotional responses, we’re also more likely to feel we are somehow responsible for the inability to love and abusive behaviors of the person we've grown attached to. We also find it much harder to let go of our unhealthy attachments to these individuals and relationships and move on.

Emotional Suppression and its Consequences

Many of us have come to believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness, and therefore, we tend to suppress or ignore our feelings. The emotions that we're not processing accumulate within our bodies over time, manifesting as physical stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, or more severe mental health issues. Our inability to effectively process our emotions creates a kind of emotional blindness that can distort our perception of others. We're more likely to find ourselves repeatedly drawn to people who complicate our lives, causing us enormous harm and leading us into unhealthy relationships or dynamics because we cannot see the warning signs or recognize our own unmet emotional needs.

Most of us have a very limited understanding of addictions, other forms of dysfunction, and mental health issues. Because of this lack of understanding and the fact that we haven't learned to work effectively with our emotions, it's hard for us to comprehend and, in some instances, even recognize the emotional wounding and dysfunction in others.

Emotional blindness diminishes our capacity to understand the feelings and needs of others or to empathetically connect with those who are in an emotionally vulnerable space. We're more likely to unconsciously project our own unresolved issues onto others or choose partners who mirror our unacknowledged traits or emotional wounding, which invariably perpetuates cycles of dysfunction.

Developing a greater understanding of mental health issues and learning to work effectively with our emotions greatly enhances the quality of our relationships. It can deepen our understanding of ourselves and others while also encouraging healthier, more supportive environments both at home and in the workplace, ultimately creating a more humane world.

The Importance of Educating Ourselves About Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are far more prevalent than most of us realize. For this reason, it is critically important for all of us to educate ourselves about them. This includes understanding addictions, dysfunctional family and other relational dynamics, cluster B personality disorders such as narcissism and borderline personality disorder, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

This process of education may involve self-study, therapy, support groups, online forums, or a combination thereof. It’s about taking proactive steps to increase our awareness and knowledge. By working to understand and heal our own emotional wounds, we gain much greater insight into ourselves and others. This journey of self-discovery and healing helps us recognize the signs of mental health issues and understand the underlying factors that contribute to them.

As we become more educated and emotionally aware, and deepen our understanding of ourselves and others, we become better equipped to make informed decisions in our personal and professional lives. We learn to relate to others in healthier ways, cultivating more meaningful and supportive relationships. We also develop a greater capacity for empathy and compassion, which enables us to better support those around us who may be struggling with their own emotional wounding and other mental health challenges.

Biochemical Predisposition

Helen Fisher, in her book “Why Him? Why Her?”, explores how the predominance of certain hormones and neurotransmitters can shape personality traits and influence relationship dynamics. According to her research, individuals with higher levels of testosterone and dopamine tend to be more analytical, competitive, and assertive. They are often driven to achieve their goals and excel in their pursuits, displaying a strong presence and a decisive nature. This hormonal influence makes them natural leaders and go-getters, always striving for excellence and seeking new challenges.

Similarly, individuals with higher levels of dopamine are often characterized by their adventurous spirit, enthusiasm, and novelty-seeking behavior. They're typically energetic, curious, and open to new experiences. Dopamine's influence drives them to seek excitement and stimulation, making them more likely to engage in risk-taking activities and pursue their passions.

However, while these traits contribute to their success and dynamic presence, individuals with a predominance of testosterone and dopamine may not excel in introspection or emotional reflection. They are more likely to struggle with self-awareness and may find it challenging to connect deeply with their own emotions and the emotions of others. This can result in a lack of interpersonal skills, such as empathy, active listening, and emotional sensitivity.

To overcome these challenges, it is essential for those of us with this predisposition to make a concerted effort to develop our emotional and interpersonal skills. This can involve engaging in activities that promote self-reflection, seeking feedback from others, and actively working on building empathy and communication skills. By doing so, we can enhance our ability to form meaningful and fulfilling relationships, balancing our drive and enthusiasm with greater emotional intelligence and relational awareness.

From Emotional Disconnection to Resonance

Many high-functioning individuals disconnect from their emotional selves due to past trauma or the continuous pressure to perform at peak levels. This disconnection can manifest as difficulty in accessing or expressing emotions, which is critical in forming deep, meaningful relationships. Without this emotional depth, relationships remain superficial or become strained under emotional demands.

It's through our emotions that we not only bond with others but also maintain and deepen our connections. Our emotions create an energetic field that facilitates deeper levels of interaction with others. There's an element of sympathetic resonance—which is what happens when you strike one tuning fork and another in its immediate proximity begins to vibrate. Similarly, when I work through my own emotional responses, it can help you access and process yours too. This mutual processing of our emotional responses and the understanding we gain helps us resolve issues and stay connected. The more we share and work through together, the stronger our bond becomes.

The Potential for Healing in Our Relationships

Relationships can serve as mirrors that reflect the wounded parts of ourselves, offering both a reflection of our unresolved issues and the potential for healing. Engaging with a willing and understanding partner provides us with an invaluable opportunity to face and heal these emotional wounds. Thus, the individuals we form attachments to not only put us in touch with the more vulnerable or wounded parts of ourselves, but also act as catalysts for our growth.

This process, while sometimes painful, is a crucial aspect of personal growth. Our partners can help us see our blind spots, the areas where we need healing and transformation. Through their support and understanding, we gain the courage to confront these issues head-on. This dynamic creates a powerful space for mutual healing, where we and our partner can work together to address our vulnerabilities.

Permission to Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability is essential for forming deep and meaningful attachments. It enables us to express our needs, fears, and desires openly. For those of us who have not learned to work effectively with our emotions, it can be far more challenging to allow ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable, and that creates barriers to intimacy and trust.

When we hide our true feelings or put up emotional walls, we prevent other people from truly knowing us. This often contributes to our sense of isolation. The fear of being hurt or rejected can make us hesitant to share our inner world, causing a disconnect that keeps our relationships superficial.

By embracing our vulnerability, we gain a much deeper understanding of ourselves and others while cultivating more genuine connections. It allows us to be more authentic and to experience a growing sense of safety and trust in our relationships. When we share our own vulnerabilities, we're also giving others permission to do the same, allowing for a more authentic and intimate connection.

Learning to embrace our vulnerability is an ongoing process that requires courage, commitment, and the willingness to face issues head-on, feel our emotions, and thoroughly digest them. But the rewards—deeper intimacy, stronger trust, and more fulfilling connections—are well worth the effort.

The Need for Emotional Education and Effective Communication in Relationships

It's crucial for us to recognize the importance of emotional intelligence and actively cultivate it. For some of us, this might involve therapy or couples' counseling, mindfulness practices along with therapeutic interventions that help them to access and process our emotions.

Effective communication is also crucial for relationships. While many of us may communicate effectively in a professional setting, we often struggle with the emotional vulnerability and openness necessary to cultivate and maintain intimate relationships. This is where the principles of emotional intelligence come into play. By developing our ability to express and understand emotions, we can improve our communication skills, leading to more meaningful and fulfilling connections with others. Therapy and counseling can provide valuable tools and strategies for enhancing our communication, enabling us to articulate our needs and listen to our partners with empathy and understanding. As we become more emotionally aware and adept at communicating, we cultivate deeper trust and intimacy in our relationships, creating a solid foundation for long-term satisfaction and growth.

Feeling heartbroken? Overwhelmed with sadness and grief? If you're ready to heal, let go, move on, and attract love into your life, schedule your free twenty-minute heart mending strategy session now. This initial session is not the actual healing process, but a valuable opportunity for you to share your individual concerns and challenges. Together, we'll devise a path forward, exploring workable solutions for you to implement on your healing journey. Click here to schedule your free heart mending strategy session.

©Copyright 2024 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved.

When you’re ready, I have 3 ways I can help you to heal your heartache and attract more love into your life and cocreate more meaningful and deeply fulfilling relationships.
1. Click here to grab your free copy of my eBook – The Essentials Of Getting Over Your Breakup And Moving On
2. Watch the master class Three Reasons Your Relationships Are Not Working …And What You Can Do About It.
3. Work with me individually: Are you experiencing chronic health issues that no one has been able to help you with? Are you dealing with persistent emotions that are taking you out of the game of life? Are you in the midst of a breakup, struggling with patterns of abandonment or unrequited love, or facing challenges in your current relationship? Ready to break through existing limitations and unearth the inner resources you need to overcome challenges and realize your true potential? If any of these resonate with you and you're seeking personalized guidance and support, and would like to work directly with me, email me at ben@benoofana.comFor a faster response, call me at (332) 333-5155.