The downside of hiding difficult emotions

There are a lot of internalized beliefs about why I shouldn’t be honest with emotions such as anger, frustration or disgust. And some of these reasons sound very plausible to my mind.

“It won’t change the situation if you name them”.
“It’s not like the other person can change whatever it is that I find difficult, I’ll just make them feel bad if I say it”.
“It would hurt me a lot to hear that from someone else, so I better not say it”.

As an example, I used to live with a flatmate who stepped a lot onto his heels while walking. That made his walking in the flat quite loud for my ears. It pissed me off. I was judging him for being inconsiderate, unconcious and complacent. But because of some of the above thoughts, and others, I did not speak to him about it. I might have mentioned it in a joke a few times, hoping he would get how annoying I found his way of walking, but with no effect.

Internally, I also didn’t allow myself to feel the frustration and anger fully.
“Stop judging him, it’s not like he’s doing it on purpose!”
“Stop being so petty, I’m sure there are many things he finds annoying about you too, so buckle up!”

Caught in this web of reactivity and self-judgement, I felt disconnected both from myself and my flatmate.
And I felt there was nothing I could do about it. A well-built trap had I created there.

Now, I don’t know what would have happened if I had shared my experience.
This is the biggest reason I’m scared to show myself honestly, vulnerably. I don’t know what will happen. Which triggers a lot of fear, many what-ifs. Loss of control. And distrust that I can survive without controlling.

Yet, after many years of hiding these emotions from myself and others, I’ve come to a place where I prefer to take the risk and show myself. The consequences of not expressing myself openly have become clearer for me over time.
I can see detrimental effects on my health – tension in my body, exczema, headaches, digestive issues.. – as well as my sense of connectedness, trust in and acceptance of life.

More often than not, by showing myself, a new space of relating enters my relationships. Relieved about not having to hide anymore, a lot more is being shared which in turn leads to more connection, trust and appreciation.
And even if the result of my honesty is not connection and appreciation, I still get a sense of acceptance from it.

I can internally acknowledge that I’ve done the best I could and allow myself to feel whatever it is that I feel. I’ve taken the courage to share my truth and to acknowledge it fully. What a big accomplishment that is!

Especially in groups where spirituality is a shared value, I’ve noticed a focus on expressing certain emotions such as love, joy, ease and peace. It might well be that for many this feels authentic and they’ve found a way to deal with less acceptable emotions internally in a healthy manner.

For me, I’ve understood that I’m not at the point where I have the internal capacity to let these emotions flow through me without resistance or getting stuck. By co-creating spaces in which people feel safe to show themselves in these inner turmoils, I’ve found profound healing for aspects of myself that I had pushed away for so long. And I started feeling deeply connected in these struggles with others.
It seems to be something so deeply human to face these raw, moving energies and be confronted with our own boundaries, protective mechanisms that lead to constriction, disconnection and suffering.
There is such vulnerability, such beauty, such pure aliveness in meeting each other in authenticity.

By simply acknowledging my own experience, my truth in this very moment, I enter an internal space that feels very much like home.
Where I can rest. Just as I am. Where nothing needs to change to be whole. No matter how comfortable or uncomfortable I feel.
To enter an interaction from this space is the greatest gift I can offer.

About the Author David Lion

Hi, my name is David and I'm passionate about ​Personal ​Development, Men's work and creating community. Learn more about me here .

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