Article in brief: The theory says humans need to vent and express their emotions, however how true is that statement and what are the consequences of keeping everything bottled up?
Suppressing emotions is a common method people unconsciously use to control their thoughts and emotions. Although ‘Emotion Regulation’ is important, suppressing emotions may cause more harm than good.
There can be many reasons for Emotional Suppression, the most common ones are the need to push problems away and not think about them, the overwhelming feeling a situation causes and the urge to make uncomfortable feelings go away. Other reasons can also include the desire to move on and get over something.
Anger is probably the only emotion necessary to hold at the time the situation is happening. However, once one has calmed down, it is important to let the emotions related to that incident out.
Emotions are a type of energy; positive emotions give positive energy whereas negative emotions give negative energy. When emotions are suppressed, the negative energy stays in the system and eventually gets pushed out in a different way causing either mental or physical damage.
Some studies have shown a link between Emotional Suppression and diseases like heart problems and cancer. Other studies have linked it to stiffness in joints, weakness, fatigue, aggression and anxiety. Another study has also shown that the more someone tries to not think or ignore an emotion or thought, the more it will occupy their minds.
Keeping things bottled up doesn’t only affect one person. It takes the brain 100 milliseconds for it to react to an emotion while it takes 600 milliseconds for the thinking brain to register that reaction which means by the time the message reaches a person’s thinking brain, the emotion has already taken over and has shown a reaction.
When choosing to suppress a feeling, it is important to understand the effects it may have and find ways to help cope with the negative impact. Relaxation, meditation, yoga, massages, exercise and change in life style are different methods used to manage emotions. However, these methods take time to master.
Psychologists have all agreed that the best way to react to a negative emotion is by talking about it. Whether the conversation is with a professional like a psychiatrist, a friend, or a support group, the key is to talk about it. Keeping it bottled up may not only cause harm to a person’s physical and mental health, but can also lead to more suppressed emotions which may eventually explode and harm relationships.
When it comes to Emotional Suppression the rule of thumb is: it is only useful to suppress an emotion when in the middle of a situation to minimize damage. Once the situation is over, it is important to push the negative feelings out.
Note from writer: Next month’s issue will discuss the characteristics of the person who someone could turn to when wanting to vent and some tips and tricks on how to best express your feelings.
- Suppressing: to keep in or repress
- Emotion: an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced.
- Emotional suppression: Physiology, self-report, and expressive behavior. Gross, James J.; Levenson, Robert W. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 64(6), Jun 1993, 970-986. doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2060
- “The Costs of Suppression.” Healing Arts Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. <http://orcashealingarts.org/the-costs-of-suppression/>.
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- Narvaez, Darcia, and Ph.D.. “Suppressing/Expressing Emotions | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hold-me-tight/201004/suppressingexpressing-emotions>.
With a background in communications, her passion for writing is driven by the need to voice her thoughts. Budoor also hold an eMBA in innovation and Entrepreneurship, other than writing, her interests include reading and traveling.