Hiding your emotions is probably something you often do. It’s something most of us do.
You silence the pain and stoke your fear and anger in the process. However, if you hide your emotions, bit by bit, it soon becomes a dysfunctional habit.
It causes mental blockages that keep you from good health, spontaneity and personal growth. And there is even more. It is not only your mental health, which suffers from your suppressed emotions. Over a long time, suppressed emotions will affect your physical health as well.
Why do we suppress our emotions in the first place?
For most people suppressing emotions begins already in their childhood. There is a difference between what seems to be hurtful to an adult, compared to what is hurtful to a child. We might be told, “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. Over time the child will learn that expressing emotions is not safe. It might feel misunderstood, maybe even ridiculed. It might learn, showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
However, it needs to be said, if a child experiences intensive and ongoing abuse, suppressing and not feeling the pain can become a survival strategy. If that is true for you, please seek help from a skilled and experienced therapist to help you integrate this part of your life. You don’t need to forget what happened to you, but you need to give your emotions a voice. You need to accept what happened to you.
Anger seems to take a special place among the full range of possible emotions. Silently most people agree, anger is an emotion best not shown. Little do they know; the only ugly emotion is the unexpressed emotion!
“When we grow up becoming adults ourselves, things do not get much better.”
Particular in western societies we are told for decades, there is nothing beyond reason. Cognito ergo sum. – I think, therefore, I am. This builds the general platform on how we think about emotions and everything we associate with them. We wrongly came to assume that emotions are holding us up from progress.
Maybe it is this wrong belief, which leads us to teach our children that crying is immature and weak. That it is better to hide our sadness. We teach them that it was unfair and impolite to respond with anger if we do not like something. We also teaching them, to be quiet; that laughing out loud shows of poor behaviour. If you want to get somewhere in life, you better show no emotion and pretend to be strong, no matter how you feel.
However, children should know, that emotions have great potential. That it is essential to understand our emotions so that we can make the most out of them. The paradigm “I think; therefore, I am” needs to shift to “I feel because I am existing”. Emotions give us life. They make us who we are.
Your emotional makeup is unique to us, and no other person has quite a psychological composition like you.
If we do not wake up sometime soon but keep on suppressing our emotions, they will take our lives little by little. Hiding your feelings hurts not only your mind. It hurts your entire being and all the people you hold dear.
What happens to our feelings when we decide not to feel them?
For most of us, feelings of anger, hate, rage, etc. are incredibly unpleasant. So unpleasant, indeed, that we suppress those feelings rather than make them conscious. Maybe we even feel shame, because of all what we have learned about those “negative and inconvenient” feelings. Suppressing them, however, comes with a high price!
Suppressed feelings do not just go away. They sit somewhere in our subconscious and slowly plot their coup on our health, our happiness, our relationships – our entire life. They start to rule our decisions making without us noticing it. Not to feel becomes an expensive habit.
This is only one of many examples:
Most people are familiar with the term “comfort food”. The name already gives away its purpose. That is not food which nourishes our bodies. This is food, which only purpose is to make us feel better. Stuffing down those emotions, we so desperately do not want to feel. Comfort food brings you more than just comfort. It brings you overweight and obesity. Now you not only have to work hard to keep your emotions at bay, but your heart also needs to work harder, and the entire skeletal frame will suffer from the extra kilos as well.
By the time there is no way to fit into your favourite jeans, we are not thinking highly about ourselves anymore either. Most likely, we will look into the mirror and loathe what we see.
If it is so unhealthy, why do we suppress feelings
We are suppressing emotions always then; when we decide, there is no room to express what we feel safely. As I have already explained, much of why we suppress feelings as an adult has its foundation in our early years. Whatever the programs, regarding negative emotions, we have learned back then, we execute today.
If you are angry because your partner says something, which touches a raw nerve, you could hurl all your anger at him. You could also go for a run around the block, calm down and then say what you have to say appropriately. Most of us, however, suppress the anger, trying to get on with life the best way we know. – We eat a piece of chocolate, tell ourselves it’s not as bad as it seems, trying to convince ourselves to find something positive about the situation or we plot revenge.
None of those solutions are healthy. Emotions are given to us, to be felt. Negative emotions are a marker of what is wrong in our lives, where we are hurting, where we need more healing. Where we need so much more self-love!
My point here is, we made a habit of suppressing our deepest feelings, we now need to turn the rudder around and make a habit of expressing our feelings.