Ah, emotional repression. The tactic we’re all taught growing up, but loathe to admit we’re engaging in.
In a world that teaches us to be strong and unwavering at all costs, it can be embarrassing to admit that we’re actually feeling something. So, we do the next-best thing – and push that feeling down into the depths of our psyche!
But of course, all repressed feelings resurface eventually. Here are 10 counter-intuitive ways in which we deal with our unexpressed emotions.
1. Taking care of everyone else.
Let’s be serious – it’s a lot easier to deal with someone else’s emotions than it is to deal with your own. So you spend a lot of time sorting out your loved ones’ emotional crises. It makes you feel like you’ve got this whole ‘feelings’ thing down pat – when in reality you’re just avoiding confronting your own.
2. Disappearing from their lives for long periods of time.
Every once in a while, someone rudely evokes emotions in you that you don’t feel capable of handling. So, you just, disappear, for a couple of months until you can be reasonably certain that the emotion in question has been buried deeply enough to not resurface for a while.
3. Constantly. Staying. Busy.
If you’re constantly sprinting from one commitment to another, your emotions can’t possibly catch up! Becoming a low-key workaholic is an excellent alternative to actually feeling your feelings. And a profitable one at that!
4. Continuously claiming that you’re fine.
You like… are fine? You think. You feel fine. If the way ‘fine’ feels is kind of bleak and dead inside, with an undercurrent of inexplicable anxiety.
5. Developing irrational anxieties.
When you don’t acknowledge your feelings, they still come out – they just come out in irrational ways. You know that person who thinks they have a brand-new type of cancer every second week? Probably not the most emotionally in-touch of your friends.
6. Putting a positive spin on everything.
Your worst fear is seeing a friend tilt their head to the side sympathetically and ask you how you’re dealing with a recent negative event. So, you beat them to the punch, by immediately telling them all the awesome realizations you’ve had as a result of said negative experience. If you can put a positive spin on a negative situation, you never have to confront how you’re really feeling!
7. Wanting to plan everything ahead of time.
You like to be in control of absolutely everything that happens to you, because you’re only comfortable in situations where you can predict how you’re going to feel. Doing something genuinely spontaneous and leaving the door open for surprise feelings to jump through? NO THANK YOU.
8. Dating people who are wrong for you.
If you never date someone who’s right for you, you never have to risk becoming emotionally intimate with them. And if you can avoid emotional intimacy with others, you can avoid it within yourself. Double win!
9. Turning EVERYTHING into a joke.
You’re not falling apart at the seams! You can prove it, by turning your pain into everyone else’s amusement.
10. Presenting a tough-as-nails exterior.
There is no such thing as an unemotional person. Even psychopaths experience emotion (just not in the form of interpersonal empathy). Which means that tough-as-hell exteriors are often key indicators that the person behind them is RIFE with repressed emotions.
Try being more honest with yourself and feel your feelings, and if you can’t get in touch with that, consider going to a talking therapist.
Linda Bishopp June 2019