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Poverty: A Holistic Definition- Emotional Poverty

Updated on August 22, 2010

Emotional Poverty

In a previous hub I defined poverty as a holistic phenomenon, rather than just something that happens on the financial level. In this hub I wish to take a deeper look into emotional poverty. There are many individuals who have achieved financial wealth, but they are living in poverty in regards to their emotional life.


Emotional poverty is a state that a person finds themselves in when they lack the ability to deal with specific circumstances or life in general without a total melt down. Everyone struggles to deal with difficulty, but some cannot emotionally deal with difficult circumstances. They turn to escapes such as drugs and partying, or they may just shut down altogether. When a person finds themselves in a difficult time, but not being able to mourn and still live life, they may very well be dealing with emotional poverty.


Reactions to avoid when things get tough

1. Going with your feelings- what you feel tends to be determined by your circumstances

2. Attacking others- this shows a belief that others control your joy- forgive and move on

3. Shutting down- this is the easy way out- we must face reality, deal with it and grow strong from it

4. Complaining- this solves nothing

5. Losing perspective- keep the problem in the perspective of the rest of your life

Sources of emotional poverty

While there may be many factors that lead to emotional poverty, a few common sources follow.

1. Unresolved family cycles

When a family deals with difficulty in a dysfunctional way, they tend to pass those habits to their children. As those children grow into adults, they must resolve those issues and learn to deal with difficulty in a mature way or they will simply repeat those habits into their generation. It is possible to break bad family cycles, but there must be a willingness to get the help needed to recognize and overcome dysfunctional ways.

2. Unresolved personal cycles

Many individuals that I know that find themselves dealing with emotional poverty had a strong upbringing, but find themselves in personal dysfunctional cycles emotionally. These cycles must be recognized, then overcome with the same willingness and help that is required from unresolved family cycles.

3. Lack of knowledge

Due to various factors an individual may lack the knowledge of how to effectively deal with difficult circumstances. Because of this they may tend to resort to going with their feelings or what is convenient at the moment. This individual should get training in how to deal emotionally with undesirable circumstances.

Overcoming emotional poverty

Just as financial poverty can be overcome with the right help, so too emotional poverty can be overcome. If you find yourself emotionally weak you can come to the point of being emotionally strong and balanced. Here are a few steps to take.

1. Recognize where you are emotionally

Unless you come to an awareness of your emotional state, you cannot get the help needed. Ask those you trust what their insight is as to who you are emotionally. Don't be afraid to be transparent. Be honest with yourself. Life can take on new meaning as you come to the place of emotional balance once again, or for the first time.

2. Surround yourself with emotionally strong people

Achieving emotional balance is more than academics. You must see it first hand. By the way, emotional strength does not mean that you are invincible when difficulty comes your way. It means that you can mourn, yet still go on with life. By surrounding yourself with people who can show their emotions in tough times, yet still deal with life, you will see what true emotional balance looks like.

3. Get rid of the victim mentality

One definite attitude that keeps you from emotional wealth is the victim mentality. As long as you are a victim, you tend not to take control when hard times come your way. Rather than being a victim, choose to learn from and embrace the difficulty. Don't let it rule you. Don't let it consume you. Those who are emotionally wealthy are able to keep things in perspective. Rather than being consumed by the circumstance, they see it in light of the whole of life.

4. Connect with resources that will help you in your journey towards emotional balance.

There are several resources that aid you in overcoming emotional poverty and achieving perspective, strength and balance in your emotions.


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    • Michael Davis profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Davis 

      8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Holisticity- Thanks for the props. Best to you.

    • Holisticity profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Thank you - this hub really is up there among the best, gives practical advice

    • Michael Davis profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Davis 

      9 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thanks for the feedback, Dave

    • DavePrice profile image


      9 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

      I really enjoyed the way you explained the subject of spiritual poverty. It is a subject few are willing to address, and you did a great job with it.


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