Emotional Attunement Definition

Updated on December 20, 2016

Understanding Emotions

An emotionally attuned person will be in harmony with his or her self. This may sound funny to some of you, because it would seem that if everything worked out right and people would just behave themselves we would be in harmony. Our emotions appear to be reactions to what is happening to us as opposed to what is happening within us.

Fact is, there is little agreement among the educated experts in the psych industry as to what causes emotions. Hormones get blamed a lot, but that's usually done by men wanting to dismiss their female counterpart's strong emotions. But the psychology industry needs clearly stated parameters so that those working in the field will know how to speak to one another. Emotions, as of yet, have not been clearly defined.

Psych folks are fairly clear about what emotions look like, for instance anger is frowning forehead, a flush of redness maybe, and heavy breathing among many other things that may or may not be present when an individual is angry. Less than clinical, but it is what they work with for lack of something clearer.

Emotional Uniqueness Causes Problems

What has been determined is that each of us operates our emotional software a little different than the rest. We are born with a unique character with its own tastes and leanings, and then we learn to live with these unique characteristics as we grow up. This is where we get thrown off our harmonious track; learning to work with our unique characters.

First of all, our parents didn't care too much about our uniqueness as much as they cared about us behaving appropriately. Plus, their parents had less of a clue than ours did and so on down the line. The science of emotions is very new, and the understanding of early childhood's impact is even newer; within the last 20 years or so.

But the fact remains, most parents are more interested in behavioral modification than in helping children learn about themselves. What happens to a child who is been behaviorally modified is they learn to stuff how they feel, they learn not to trust their own emotions, and they learn that their feelings are not valuable.

But emotions are like water, they don't compress well, and they have to go somewhere. Now things get infinitely complex. Because our cognitive life is a slave to our subconscious beliefs about reality as we learned to cope within the family unit we were born and raised in. So, depending on who we are to begin with, how our parents decided to raise us, and what we did to compensate for the gap between the first two, we have a bit of sorting to do if we want to become emotionally attuned.

Most People Suffer Emotionally and Never Know Why

A 50% divorce rate means that half the people who marry in our society don't know how to deal with their own emotions and, most likely, they don't know how to deal with another's emotions. The other half, nobody knows. Just because two people learn to live with one another doesn't mean they have any more emotional attunement than anyone else, it really just means they've learned to tolerate each other's idiosyncrasies.

Not a single person on the planet has perfect emotional attunement. All of us need some form of realization and guidance in some form. Most of us function fairly well on a superficial level, but we struggle when it comes to intimate relationships and difficult people. Or in a crisis we will lose control emotionally not deal with the stress well.

In general, the majority of humans on our planet operate within a zone of acceptable emotional functionality. Which means they have plausible deniability for themselves when emotions do surface, and they see the circumstances as normal and unchangeable therefore requiring a certain emotional rigidity. The problems that surface are usually just life and "getting over it" is way easier than "learning to live with it."

Learning to Live with Our Emotions

I believe it was Einstein that defined insanity as attempting the same behavior over and over again and expecting different results or something along those lines. This seems so obvious when it is stated so directly, but when it comes to personal issues that are dear to us it is hard to accept.

What about the man who hates his job, but, for whatever reason, and he'll come up with some good ones, he stays there and continues to work hoping that something will happen? What about the folks who've had more than one or two long term intimate relationships and are looking for the next without looking at what went wrong in the ones that failed? What about the mother whose child is continuously in trouble and they can't figure out what to do about it?

All of these situations contain the same behavior repeated and the expectation that this time it will be different. As if happiness and success were like a lottery that some people win, but most just lose. Life is not an emotional luck-of-the-draw. It might be a luck-of-the-draw in the very beginning, like what country we're born into, but even then an emotionally attuned person will not ride life's circumstances like a pontoon ride into the next emotional upheaval.

An emotionally attuned person will know what works for them and what doesn't. They will align themselves with people who fit their emotional profile as they understand it and commit to working with that person to form a healthy mutually supportive relationship. An emotionally attuned person would never work at a place they hated for very long, because they would know that they don't need to, and they would know that they have the power to change their circumstances.

Emotional Attunement is Not Easily Defined

So, if attunement means: "to bring into harmony" then emotional attunement must mean to be in emotional harmony with... oneself first, others second, and circumstances third. Harmony is an interest term in this case, because it is a musical term and carries some powerful connotations. It's way different than the compatible or constructed which implies pieces fitting together like a puzzle or working together side by side.

Harmony says that the parts are working together to create a different experience than any one part can create on its own. The parts are active and working with each other to form something beautiful and successful. There is overlap and interaction and movement that forms a song, a viable piece that exists of its own accord in spite of and because of each individual involved.

Emotional Harmony then represents a pleasant interaction of parts working together with all involved in whatever circumstances that are present so everyone gets along well and performs at an optimum level with little or no major upsets.

If this sounds impossible to you then you have your work ahead of you. Emotional Attunement can compensate for other people's issues, but it won't fix them. Basically, the more emotionally attuned a person becomes the better they get at avoiding or circumventing people who are out of attunement. But each of us is responsible for our own attunement.

Warning: Emotionally Unhealthy People Will Fight You

When you realize that you're emotionally out of tune, and you begin to work through your own issues then the places and people that are dysfunctional in your life will become more and more difficult to live with. See, if you've been operating without emotional attunement, then you have formed relationships and chosen circumstances that probably don't work for you.

It is worth every minute of discomfort, because the life that reforms behind that discomfort will be markedly better than the dysfunction and misery that plagues most unhealthy situations.

Of course, if you're happy and your life is working the way you want it, then don't fix it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • C. M. Hoisington profile imageAUTHOR

        C. M. Hoisington 

        5 years ago

        Thank You W1totalk. Means much.

      • W1totalk profile image


        5 years ago

        Great article.


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