How do we keep our emotions away?
For perhaps the vast majority of the population in industrialized nations, people learn suppression by avoiding unnecessary movement, shutting off sensation, and putting a lid on their emotions. (Fogel, 2013)
Avoiding uncomfortable yet useful states keeps us from reaching our full potential. Interestingly, this arm’s-length relationship we have with discomfort is a largely Western—and specifically American—phenomenon. (Kashdan and Biswas-Diener, 2014)
What does it mean to be with our emotions?
Processing emotions is allowing the emotions to signal to our conscious awareness something important. When we stay with the sensations and thoughts for a period of time the emotional experience will usually end and the feeling state will be done. Afterwards, people often feel relief and a sense of unburdening.
What is the value of having emotions?
For many people, emotions are the thing they try to avoid, so they can make reasoned decisions that don’t include the unnecessary vicissitudes of our emotional states. This belief appears to be quite common in American culture. As a result of this point of view, emotions are removed from the equation of our experience. Fortunately, this is impossible. As much as we want to control our emotions, they are instant responses to stimulus in the environment. We can try not to notice the emotion, but we cannot stop the emotion from happening.
We puzzle over why we can’t get along with our parents or spouses as we assiduously avoid feeling what’s authentic and let anger and resentment take the place of our sadness at the loss of our inner self, a grief so profound and buried so deep inside that we cannot acknowledge its existence, even to ourselves. (Fogel, 2013)
How does unresolved emotional pain impact our lives?
Unresolved emotions related to trauma can get held in the body. Feelings of shame or unworthiness can show up as a caving in of your chest, a collapse in your posture, and a lowered head and gaze. (Shwartz, 2021)
How This Is In My Life.
I am finding my way in all of this and discovering that engaging my emotions, letting them be fully felt, has led to a new found freedom that reduces the burden I feel in my body and mind. I don’t do it perfect but I am getting better.
If you or someone you know has a hard time feeling their emotions I encourage you to reach out.
Wishing You The Day You Need To Have!
Biswas- Diener, Robert & Kasdan, Todd. (2104). The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment. New York, NY: Avery.
Fogel, Alan. (2013). Body Sense: The Science and Practice of Embodied Self-Awareness (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company
Schwartz, Arielle. (2020). A Practical Guide to Complex PTSD: Compassionate Strategies to Begin Healing from Childhood Trauma. Emeryville, CA. Rockridge Press.