4 Common Ways We Destroy Connection and Damage Emotional Health

It’s the seemingly little things we often don’t realize how profoundly they impact us over time especially when they occur regularly. We may think we’re just “poking fun” or helping people develop a “thicker skin” but in reality, we’re damaging their emotional health (EH).

Emotional health is easily the most neglected aspect of any health and wellness effort.

Yet EH could very well be responsible for the greatest impact. Furthermore, it is our state of emotional health (i.e. our ability to give and receive love, connection, and belonging) that drives our behavior because when it is compromised it is deeply painful.

A human will do nearly anything to avoid pain (including #suicide) and in the absence of nurturing one’s #emotionalhealth, in the way we need it, we turn to #behaviors in an attempt to compensate. The more extreme the behavior the more emotional pain a person is experiencing.

Below are four critical ways and examples of how we’re destroying each other’s emotional health. (Note: It often begins before age 6.)


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: Pancakes are fine if you want to get fat.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: If it’s as bad as your other ideas I’m going to tell everyone it was yours.


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: I don’t eat unhealthy foods like pancakes.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: There’s really nothing good about your idea.


  • Child: I made pancakes for breakfast.
  • Parent: Uh huh (continues looking at phone).
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: Tell me next week. (Then, he/she is never available.)


  • Child: Will you have pancakes for breakfast with me?
  • Parent: No, I need to go to work.
  • Employee: I have an idea for the new project.
  • Boss: I’m not interested in your ideas.

These four actions may be the most common ways we hurt someone’s #feelings and damage their EH. They’re especially harmful when they come from people who matter to us like a #parent, teacher, coach, or #boss.

It doesn’t take many instances and a person will stop trying to #share or #connect because the emotional pain hurts too much. Before long, the two disconnect and the relationship suffers. Further, a person will likely attempt to manage their pain through other, often destructive, behaviors such as unhealthy food, alcohol, depression, anxiety, etc.

It’s important to remember that “hurt people [will] hurt people”. So, anyone who is shaming, judging, neglecting or rejecting others likely experienced the same behaviors toward them in their past (and probably during early childhood).

When it comes to #fear, it is the pain of shame, judgement, neglect or rejection that we have been conditioned to fear the most.

The key is to engage with #empathy, #support and #encouragement which can be more constructive and nurture one’s emotional health. Too often, we hurt the one’s we love but we also can be more supportive toward the people we know and care for the most.

By learning about and understanding each other better we are far more likely to appreciate each other’s #perspective and #value them. This, in turn, increases the #connection and strengthens the #relationships.

Now, instead of a downward-spiral of destruction we’ve reversed course and created an upward-spiral that’s constructive. Almost miraculously, the destructive compensatory behaviors decrease and are replaced with more constructive behaviors since our emotional pain is reduced.


Kevin Strauss
Kevin Strauss
Kevin believes people yearn to feel closer to others. Not to everyone but to the people who matter most to them. He believes we long to be heard and valued because then we know we matter and that makes us happy. Happy people do good things and are less destructive to themselves and others. The closer and happier we are the better our world will be. Kevin is the Founder and CEO of Uchi, an app dedicated to helping people connect authentically with those who matter most to them by making conversations easier. Kevin’s career began as an "industry disruptive" Biomedical Engineer with a gift for identifying a problem’s root cause. His efforts have resulted in 75+ US patents and many peer-reviewed publications spanning several industries including spinal implants, psychology and behavior modification. It was nearly 20 years ago when Kevin wandered down a rabbit-hole, sparked by “human conflict”, that transformed him into an emotional health, connection, and human behavior expert. Now, Kevin and his team are bringing the Uchi app to the world’s stage to help people experience deeper and more meaningful relationships; something that matters to us all but often falls through the cracks. In addition, he continues to enjoy sharing this knowledge through workshops and speaking engagements. Kevin enjoys balancing his human connection work with expedition backpacking, ballroom dancing and as an 18-year, injury-free, Ironman Triathlete, and Coach.

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  1. Kevin, your article is an excellent and timely read. Thank you for sharing this helpful information about emotional health. It’s a topic that is worthy of discussion, as emotional health is essential to our well being – and those around us.

    Your statement about “hurt people will hurt people” is powerful – and accurate. It brings to light that we need more compassion, kindness, and understanding in our world – and we need to stop being so quick to judge. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in this area, and for giving me a reason to take pause and reflect on my EH.

    • Thank you Laura. I’m so happy the article resonated with you and may help those in your network. So, the next question becomes WHY are people struggling to behave with compassion, kindness and understanding? Are people just crazy or mentally ill? No! Once again, we don’t tend to act kind or caring toward people we don’t know. In other words, the better we know someone the more we tend to care for them. Connecting authentically nurtures Emotional Health more than anything else and THAT is what drives behaviors. Humanity needs connection, love and a sense of belonging.

  2. Oh my, Kevin… You bring so much to this important conversation! I love how you provide such common examples of shame, judgment, neglect and rejection. Back when I was in the classroom, I learned that one of kids’ biggest fears is rejection and one of their biggest needs is acceptance. I’ve since learned that isn’t just about kids. We all seek acceptance and we all fear rejection and judgment. Thank you for shedding light on this topic in such an applicable way.

    • Right on Melissa, thanks! Please feel free to share other examples that could resonate with people. Also, think about how many of the school shooters felt rejected most of their lives? Being rejected is NOT a mental illness. It IS an emotional pain that a human is compelled to do something about…. at any cost, including death. Ever wonder why suicide is on the rise with young kids? Emotional Health, just like physical health, is something we humans must nurture our entire lives. And you’re so right about the fears too!

  3. Thank you, Kevin, for sharing your compassionate eye-opener that ‘hurt people will hurt people’ triggering off a domino reaction rather than ripples of love. I have often been criticised for being ‘too touchy and ‘over-sensitive’ to what people say and how they say it and still brood over some remark for days on end despite having grown a layer of thick skin. I am a firm believer that words and hearts should be handled with velvet gloves because spoken words and broken hearts are not easy to repair …if they ever are.

    • Thank you Noemi for joining our conversation. I believe being extra sensitive is actually a super power because you’re someone who can tap into your subconscious in a way few others can or have been conditioned not to. It seems like we need to 1) find our tribe where people value our sensitivity and insight AND 2) we need to help others experience their own emotions without feeling shame, judgement, neglect or rejection. Finally, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can hurt far worse and for much longer.”

  4. Full of compassion and understanding Kevin – “hurt people will hurt people.” provides a frame-work of where people are coming from and yet moves us to working on an upward spiral of goodness and empowerment in watching our language and our ways that we could be infecting emotional health. Thank you. I enjoyed reading this today and the way that you presented understanding of this very sensitive and yet serious topic of relating to others.

    • Thank you Maureen. I’m so glad the article resonated with you. I’m a HUGE fan of the “upward spiral of goodness” you mention. Emotions are so contagious. Let’s spread the love and connection as much as possible! FYI, one way to do this is to check out the Uchi app (Free) at