Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will appear later in much uglier ways.SIGMUND FREUD
Most of the feelings that interfere with our daily lives, our negative emotional reactions, have little to do with what is happening in the present. They come from painful childhood memories, buried deep within us, ones we have yet to face and deal with.
When these memories are subconsciously activated, all rationality disappears. We become oversensitive, rigid, irrational, and insecure. We get out of control, an emotional wreck.
Reactions if a window into our inner world
We think we know why we react in a certain way, but that’s rarely the case. We think we are reacting to something that has been said or done in the present, but that is not true. We respond to our pain from the past.
Triggers bring the pain of our past to the surface for a very specific reason. Our bodies do not want toxic feelings closed in on themselves. They use every opportunity to speak out with us. “Examine your pain, feel it, and then, please, get rid of it. We don’t want to hurt ourselves anymore.”
This is not easy to achieve. It’s hard for us to find words for the emotional reactions that are within us and coming out of us. We know we feel upset, unbalanced, uncomfortable, or even cut off from our emotions, but we don’t know why.
Understanding your own emotions
This lack of understanding is the result of our conditioning to bury our uneasy feelings – to remain calm and to show our happy faces to the world. We are told that it is not acceptable to express your emotions – because it is a sign of weakness.
Our emotions embarrass us. We are afraid that others will condemn or reject us because we show them, and we certainly do not want to hurt or upset someone while doing so.
As a result, many of us deny our mental pain for a very long time. We are used to doing this unconsciously because that is how we can function in our daily lives. The problem with this is that life is much more than just functioning. There is a difference between existence and true living.
To live means to allow yourself to feel
The only condition for existence in the physical world is that we breathe air. True living means being awake and present in your life. It’s about experiencing everything you need to experience. It is about love, fantasizing, and daydreaming. It is about developing life and improving relationships, seizing opportunities, finding our passion, and personal growth. True living is also accepting the flow and duality of life; joys and sorrows; excitement and disappointment; pleasures and sorrows; pleasure and pain; health and diseases; hope and hopelessness.
Emotion is a natural response to life. Prohibiting or suppressing emotions is not. Our ability to love and be loved is based on our ability to feel and express our emotions.
Our emotions are indicators of what is happening to us. When we allow ourselves to feel them the moment they happen, as children do before they are taught what is wrong, our feelings will only be temporary. It will come and go naturally. Suppression and repression cause us to keep our pain to ourselves.
When we don’t let them go, emotions that are healthy become emotions that poison us physically and mentally. Even though your conscious mind is detached from the painful memory that evokes emotion, your body remembers it. Toxic emotions manifest externally in a number of ways.
Toxic emotions as a blow to our self-confidence
Toxic emotions steal our self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-love. They make us react in ways that are undesirable. Addiction, depression, or interdependence may occur.
Life in a body where so many emotions are suppressed can be quite uncomfortable. Even if we try to deceive ourselves by thinking that we have overcome these memories by ignoring them or pushing them aside, it will continue to grow deep inside us, eating away at us from within.
Benign but annoying symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and fatigue are common consequences of this. But the stress of these closed emotions on our bodies can cause chronic or deadly diseases as well. Stress weakens our immune system making us prone to all sorts of devastating diseases and autoimmune disorders.
Even though our repressed emotions have not yet surfaced, they still limit us by disrupting our relationships and connections, stealing our joy, stealing our vitality, taking away our inner peace, and taking away our personal strength. And like a time bomb, one day it will just explode and create chaos in our lives.
Suppression of emotions causes deep pain
Feelings can be very painful, especially when we have not allowed ourselves to fully experience them. But we must learn to feel them. Once we allow this to happen, we discover that it is not our feelings that hurt us, but their denial that hurts us.
Awareness is the first step in digging up buried emotions. We become aware of these emotions by paying attention to our triggers. Our hot triggers, the things that make us react violently, are indicators of where we need to start digging. Once we identify them, we must allow them to surface. And when they come to the surface, we have to allow ourselves to feel them.
Looking at ourselves in ways we are not used to is not easy to do. But it is the key to emotional freedom.