Keeping Your Emotions Bottled Up

We are taught in our society that we need to be strong.  Don’t show emotion, don’t cry, keep a stiff upper lip, and if things go wrong, pretend that they are OK.  However, not expressing your emotions is incredibly harmful and can actually kill you, as it increases the risk of heart disease and some cancers, among other mental and physical health problems.  A lot of cultures put more pressure on men to bottle their emotions, as they believe that suppressed emotions is a masculine quality. Read on for four reasons why you should stop suppressing your emotions.

Put Undue Stress on Your Body

Suppressing your emotions puts a lot of stress on your body.  You can have high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and cancer, stiff joints, bone weakness, and a lowered immune system.  Those who suppress their emotions tend to get sick easier and more frequent than those who do not.

Bottling Emotions Makes Them Stronger

If you pretend that everything is fine when everything is not, you suppress your emotions, but you do not get rid of them.  They sit in the back of your mind, ready to pounce at any moment. You may try to continue your day as normal, but the moment something goes wrong (even something small and insignificant) your emotions will resurface, causing you to overreact.  During trauma, your body protects itself by suppressing emotion, but after trauma, your body releases emotion as another defence mechanism. Often, the emotion released is not the same as the emotion suppressed, as emotions tend to morph when they are suppressed.  If you suppress emotions when you are not experiencing trauma, you are more likely to lash out later.

More Likely to Turn to Substances

People who bottle up their emotions are more likely to turn to the bottle (or cigarettes, junk food, or drugs) to help them cope with their emotions.  The pain of suppressing your emotions is real, and many turn to substances to help numb that pain. Unfortunately, that can lead to addiction and other health problems.

You May Become Numb to Positive Emotions

Bottling up your negative emotions will train your body to suppress all emotions – including “good” emotions like happiness, excitement, and love.  While negative emotions increase the risk of many health problems, positive emotions decrease that risk. However, as human beings, we have emotions to keep us safe.  Emotions help us to interact with the world around us and determine the best course of action. Many people make emotional-based decisions and listen to their “gut feeling.”  If you suppress your emotions, you slowly lose the ability to follow your emotional promptings.