11 Key Characteristics of an Emotional Internalizer

The ability to apologize is probably one of the highest indicators of emotional health. (Getty Images)

The characteristics of an emotionally internalized person can be clearly seen. Let's walk through the characteristics and you will get a clear idea who these people are and how to recognize them. You may even be surprised to see that those in your life may be more internalized emotionally than you once thought.

  1. Responsible for Their Emotions

Emotional internalizers accept full responsibility for what they are feeling. The emotions they have are their emotions, unlike those of Clark and Kim who externalized their fears. For example, an internalized spouse would say, "I have some fear and take responsibility for that emotion."

In their relationships, others are not responsible for how they feel. They do not blame others or feel as if they are victims of others, generally speaking. This shift of personal responsibility of emotions is a major indicator of an internalized emotional person. They are not people who look to others or the environment for why they feel the way they do.

  1. Emotions Are a Choice

One of the amazing features of internalized emotional people is their neuropathic ability to choose how they feel about someone or something. It's like their emotional processes allow them to say, "I could feel X, Y or Z about this situation, and I choose Y."

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Some people are able to do this choosing easily. For them it is a gift—an innate ability. For others, the ability might come through practice. You get there when you accept your feelings are fully a choice, and herein, you have more power in your life.

  1. Chooses Responses

Internalizers choose how they feel about something emotionally. They have the ability to choose how to respond emotionally to a person or situation.

A situation occurs, and the internalizer feels something initially, decides how she wants to feel about the situation and then chooses a response. She does not react to the situation like an externalizer might. This ability gives the internalizer quite a bit of power and influence in a situation or relationship.

  1. Looks Inside

An emotional internalizer knows that feelings are located within. When faced with a difficult emotion, an internalizer does not jump outside of himself to blame or criticize.

The internalizer will ask himself questions as to why he is feeling what he is feeling. He will acknowledge he is feeling afraid, insecure, or "less than." Then he will ask why. What is going on inside of me that is causing this feeling to come up? He asks if this feeling is triggering something in the past that he needs to address.

The internalized emotional adult does not fear the internal journey. He knows the emotion is inside and can be explored, so he explores it. Often, he is able to discover a reason and decide what he wants to do with that emotion.

  1. Grows

Internalizers take the journey inside and ask the questions we just discussed. Because they take the journey, they can discover a past family of origin issue, a sibling issue, a past romantic issue, and understand why the connection between the issue and the emotion.

If the issue needs to be addressed, they often take steps to address it. This insight and ability to take responsible action causes the internalizer to grow as a result of experiencing a strong or challenging feeling. Consistent growth, year after year, allows this person to apply the emotionally fit principles to keep herself on an expedient emotional growth process.

  1. Honest

For the most part, emotional internalizers are very honest about how they feel. They know an emotion is just an emotion. They do not tend to suffer from embarrassment or shame for having an emotion.

They might not always be proud of how they feel, but they are usually honest with themselves and others about what they are feeling. For the internalizer, a feeling is just a feeling, not good or bad.

  1. Fearless

The internalizers do not fear their emotions. They are not afraid an emotion is going to sweep them off their feet and carry them to a place they do not want to go.

They know they are responsible for how they feel and they can manage almost any emotion that comes up. They have experience in reigning in the intensity of an emotion, switching an emotion, and not fearing it. They are generally fearless about their responses. They are more confident because they can weed out what they are feeling, choose to feel, and respond at will.

This fearlessness is strikingly difference from what an externalizer exhibits. This type of person, because of this skill set alone, can find himself leading because he leads himself emotionally.

  1. Assertive

Emotional internalizers are assertive. They respect themselves and how they feel, and also fully respect others and what they might be feeling. Emotional internalizers do not need to bully you if you disagree, but they will not be bullied or intimidated by anyone either.

They know who they are inside and give respect and honor to others. They also expect honor as they express their emotions and thoughts.

  1. Equal

In my experience in meeting with emotional internalizers all over the globe, they all seem to live out one major core idea or belief that influences all their relationships. At their core, deep down inside, they believe everyone is equal. Everyone has equal value, regardless of status, accomplishments, position, education, or abilities.

A soul is valuable, period. For the internalized emotional person, this is a settled issue. They can talk to any person, regardless of who they are or what they do. They acknowledge people. You can feel they are present with you when you speak to them. Seeing others as equal is a great strength for anyone to possess.

  1. Apologizes

When was the last time a spouse, friend, family member, or coworker apologized to you? When was the last time you received such an apology without an argument, threat, or request (or demand) for a return apology? You may be struggling to recall an instance of someone apologizing to you—much more so to recall someone doing so without threat, argument, or request for a return apology.

This type of interaction comes mostly from emotionally internalized people. Such a one is capable of this because he generally takes responsibility, separates it from feelings of shame or embarrassment, chooses to feel human, flawed and still loved, and corrects the error.

The ability to apologize is probably one of the highest indicators of emotional health. The harder it is for an individual to apologize, the stronger his or her need for emotional fitness.

  1. Empowering

The last characteristic of emotional internalizers I would like to explore here is their subtle (though sometimes not-so-subtle) ability to empower others. They are not threatened by your strengths or abilities because they see you as equal in value. They can congratulate, give you creative ideas to solve problems and even assist you without recognition.

With a kind word, acknowledgment of the efficiently of a task or general attitude of appreciation, the emotional internalized person empowers others around her. You notice you feel better when you are around her. By whom do you feel empowered? To whom can you entrust something and find her competence and attitude refreshing? She just might be an emotional internalizer.

Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of  Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including Emotional Fitness. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook or by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.

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