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Emotional Inhibition Schema

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Individuals who experience excessive vigilance, restrictions, inhibition or achievement pressures may develop one or more of these four schemas: negativity/pessimism, unrelenting standards, emotional inhibition, and self-punitiveness.

We all occasionally inhibit our emotions when appropriate, for example at work. If you have developed an emotional inhibition schema, you may experience an excessive inhibition of your feelings, communication, hebaviours, or even thoughts. When practiced frequently, this can go as far as not being able to experience your feelings and instead replacing them with numbness. Sometimes, this is reflected in priding ourselves in being a “rational rather than an emotional” person.

When activated, this schema may understandably trigger withdrawal and avoidance of emotions, which can put strain on our relationships which are based on shared vulnerability, affection, connection, and communication of needs and wants. We may be engaging in inhibition to avoid negative consequences, such as shame, guilt or a perceived loss of control, or it may have become an automatic mechanism by which we protect ourselves. The true need behind this schema is to feel safe to express our vulnerabilities and receive love not just despite of our weakness, but because of our openness to share our feelings mutually with others.

Here are some questions to think about if you are considering whether the emotional inhibition schema resonates with you:

Do you struggle to share your emotions with others?

Are you sometimes not sure what you are feeling or if you are feeling anything?

Are you unable to pinpoint where in your body you can experience your emotions?

Do people describe you as emotionally distant?

Do you consider yourself a primarily rational person with little time for emotions?

Do you feel uncomfortable when other people express intense emotions?

Do you feel uncomfortable expressing intense emotions?

Do you sometimes feel detached emotionally?

Do you struggle to be care-free around other people?

If you generally answer no to most these questions, you are unlikely to have developed the emotional inhibition schema. If you think the emotional inhibition schema applies to you, start observing how it manifests in your daily life. Recognition is key to changing patterns that stop you from achieving your goals.

To find out more about your own personal schemas, book a consultation with psychologist Dr. Esslin Terrighena, please contact (852) 2521 4668 or

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