Emotional Suppression and What We Need to Know About It

There are times when we may suppress emotion. Sometimes that is a learned behaviour from childhood – becoming the favoured way of dealing with things; other times we may avoid recognizing our emotions and we use our defense mechanisms (like avoidance) in order to not have to deal with a painful event. In any event, when we suppress emotion we run the risk of:

  • building resentment. If you are unable to tell someone how you feel, this may build resentment. This type of under the surface anger can lead to having less favourable feelings towards your loved one over time.
  • displacement. If something makes you angry and you struggle to process or deal with it, you may take out that suppressed emotion on the people around you.
  • addiction. When we suppress our emotions, we run the risk of turning to something external to ease the pain.
  • a build up and release. Any time that tears come as a result of an emotion, we consider that a healthy way of releasing it. Build up emotions however can lead to uncontrolled emotion by way of an over-reaction.
  • mood swings or depression. Heavy emotions that don’t get processed sit with us; this can often lead to experiencing mood swings or the symptoms of depression.
  • physical ailments. When we suppress emotions, they can turn inward and create physical symptoms or illness.

We are much better served to lean into simply acknowledging our emotions. Observe the emotion, describe the emotion, not place judgement on the feeling. Perhaps you will say something, perhaps you will talk it over with a friend or therapist, perhaps you will go for a walk. When we simply allow our emotions to be, with the conscious decision to process, we cut down the tendency to suppress the emotion – leaving us with a grounded and secure feeling.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@reisetasche


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