The Emotional Bank Account

The Emotional Bank Account

By Norberto Peralta

We all know what a financial bank account is, we make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it.

My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word”. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective, but if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn.

When the trust level gets very low, then what flexibility do I have? “None”, I am walking on mine fields, I have to be very careful of everything I say, I measure every word, It’s tension city, memo haven, It’s protecting my backside, politicking and many families are filled with it.

Many marriages are filled with it and if a large reserve of trust is not sustained with continuing deposit, a marriage will deteriorate, instead of rich, spontaneous understanding and communication, the situation becomes one of accommodation, where two people simply attempt to live an independent lifestyle in a fairly respectful and tolerant way.

The relationship may further deteriorate to one of hostility and defensiveness. The fight of flight ,response creates verbal battles, slammed doors, refusal to talk, emotional withdrawal and self-pity.

It may end up in a Cold War at home, sustained only by children, sex, social pressure or image protection, or it may end up in open warfare in the courts, where bitter ego decimating legal battles can be carried on for years as people as people endlessly confess the sin of a former spouse.

This is in the most intimate, the most potentially rich, joyful, satisfying and productive relationship possible between two people on this earth. Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits, with continuing expectations, old deposit evaporate.

If you suddenly run into an old high school friend you haven’t seen for years, you can pick up where you left off, because the early deposits are still there, but your accounts with the people you interact with on a regular basis require more constant investment.

There are sometimes automatic withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you that you don’t even know about, this is specially true with teenagers at home, remember building and repairing relationships and long term investments.

Suppose you have a teenage son or daughter and your normal conversation is something like, “clean your room, button your shirt, turn down the radio, go get haircut, and don’t forget to take out the rubbish!!!”. Over a period of time, the withdrawals far exceed the deposit.

Now suppose this son or daughter is in the process of making some important decisions that will affect the rest of his life but the trust level is so low and the communication process so closed, mechanical and unsatisfying that he simply is not open to your counsel.

You may have the wisdom and the knowledge to help them, but because your account is so overdrawn, they will end up making their decisions from a short-range emotional perspective, which may well result in many negative long-range consequences.

You need a positive balance to communicate on these tender issues. “What Do You Do?”, The emotional deposits begin in the moment that you are born, your parents give you a good deposit, you will do the same with your child, if you no receive enough emotional deposit, the consequence you see in your adult age with your relationships.

The emotional bank account is something that transfers from generation to generation. You need to understand that you have in your life two circles, permanent, around you, and circle of influence and circle of concern.

If the circle of concern is bigger than the circle of influence, you may not be feeling comfortable with yourself, if you increase your circle of influence, your well being will improve and you will discover that you have 3 steps for choices: you have direct control (in yourself only) You have indirect control ( in your family, job, partner etc.) You don’t have control (on the neighbours, government etc).

Only your direct control can give the opportunity of increasing your circle of influence and improve your wellbeing and increase your emotional deposit to give the possibility of improving your general relationship with family, jobs and the community.