Some of our stressful feelings are the result of unmet needs.  Some of these feelings can cause us to react in various ways that communicate to ourselves or others:

Sadness and depression, which can result in a desire to cry, be quiet, and isolate oneself, is often the result of getting something that we did not want or not getting what we need.  For example, in relationships, you may feel unhappy or blue if you are separated from a lover, unable to experience the love and respect that you need, lose a close friend, or have someone you love die.  We may feel gloomy if we realize that we are more powerless and helpless than we realized, like when we try to improve a relationship but to no avail.  Other causes could be experiences like being rejected by others at work or school, being disliked and disapproved of, and because you do not feel valued.

When you are hurt, suffering emotional pain, in a relationship, you may feel disappointment, which is a mixture of sadness and frustration.  Sometimes, within relationships, the hurt is more of a sense of abandonment or betrayal.  You need to feel connected and able to trust certain people.  There can be a mixture of impulses, like raging at the person who was unfaithful as well as suffering inner torment that makes you feel like you will never stop crying.  Abandonment can be so hard to accept because the person is not around or does not seem to care.  The loss of an attachment figure can cause us to protest with anger or to sob in the deepest, darkest grief.

Some of us experience a very painful and powerful emotion, shame, which can get us stuck in internal binds.  Guilt is slightly different than shame because guilt is a response to inappropriate behavior while shame is a feeling that we are inappropriate in some way.  We need to feel that we do the best with what we have given our physical, emotional, and mental abilities and that we are good and are valuable.  Instead, we may believe that a body part is too big, too small, or not the right size in some way; that we have not lived up to expectations of ourselves or of others; that we are inferior, not “good enough,” a loser, a failure; or unlovable.  Additionally, we may feel criticized, betrayed, rejected.  As a response to this feeling may include physical withdrawal, covering our mouth or face, or sitting back and slumping in our seat.

Max Stager is a couple’s therapist, workshop teacher, and part-time blogger helping clients navigate painful relationship challenges and transforming them into workable, healthy solutions. Visit him online at and download his free report: The #1 Killer of Relationships: Is This One Impacting You?


Linehan, Marsha (1993).  Skills Training Manual.  New York: Guilford.