Defining emotional barriers

Updated November 21, 2016

Emotions consist of both mental and physical components and include expressive behaviour, bodily or physiological responses and subjective feelings. Subjective feelings can't be seen; they are felt. Each person's feelings are different. Physiological emotional responses include sweating, the heart pounding or the release of adrenalin in response to a situation. The outward sign of emotion is expressive behaviour, which means your body language, the tensing of muscles, rapid breathing, flushed face or restlessness. This is the obvious expression of an emotion that you are experiencing. Some people have problems dealing with their emotions and as a result form barriers, which prevent them from establishing relationships with others.

What It Is

An emotional barrier means that there is a divide between you and someone else based on suspicion, mistrust or fear. Emotional mistrust stems from childhood when children are taught to be careful what they say to others. As a result, some people are not open about their thoughts and feelings and aren't particularly good at communicating because of this. They are reserved and guarded.

Walls in the Mind

Emotional barriers are considered "walls in the mind" that keep you crippled, confined, deaf and blind, figuratively speaking. They are exceptionally difficult to break down once they are put it place, and require intense communication to resolve.


Someone who has intense emotional barriers may feel vulnerable and as a result may try to protect himself by not being overly open with others. Caution is good but extreme caution can impede development as a human being and make it impossible to form healthy relationships.

Emotionally Paralyzed

When you are paralysed by emotional barriers it is difficult to move on. If you have recently divorced or lost a loved one it is very difficult to move beyond the emotions, such as guilt, grief, loss of self-esteem, anxiety or anger. Getting past emotional blocks requires that an individual work on rebuilding self-confidence and try to stop clinging to the past. This is achieved by focusing on the positive rather than on the negative and making efforts to stop negative self-thoughts, which can become obsessive and which contribute to the building of more emotional barriers.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.