I often hear people tell me that they are very emotional as a person. It might surprise you to know that there is a difference between being emotional, and being in tune with your emotions.
Even when someone is highly emotional it doesn’t mean they know how to control emotion or express it in the right way, instead they are often hijacked by their emotions.
Emotions control your thinking, behaviour and actions. Emotions also affect your physical bodies and people, who ignore, dismiss or repress their emotions, are setting themselves up for physical illness.
We are often taught, especially in the UK, to not express emotion. We are taught to simply ‘grit your teeth and get on with things’ when the going gets tough. However emotions that are not felt and released but buried within the body can cause serious illness. Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, worry, frustration and depression cause chemical reactions in your body that are very different from the chemicals released when you feel positive emotions like happiness, love, contentment and peace.
It takes a lot of your vital energy to repress emotions and keep them repressed. People I work with wonder why they are exhausted all the time and have no energy. It’s little wonder when they haven’t found a way to release months, even years of repressed emotions or how to control emotions when they arise.
Emotions are our internal guidance as to what is really going on in our lives. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that ‘no-one can make you feel anything without your permission’. You may feel that someone has done something or said something to make you feel a certain way, but it is always you who have chosen to feel what you feel. We always have a choice about how we feel. We can choose to feel irritated by someone, or we can choose to let the feeling go and replace it with a feeling of calm, either way, it is always our choice and it’s time to start taking responsibility for how you feel.
The only person who can change what you feel is you. A new relationship, a new house, a new car, a new job, these things can only momentarily distract you from your feelings.
So often I hear people say things like ‘when I’m a size 12 and have lost a stone I will be happy’. Only to find that when they reach that goal, there is another reason hiding in the background making them continue to feel unhappy.
Or another classic is ‘when I’m in a secure relationship I won’t feel lonely any more, and finding they are still lonely regardless of their relationship’. Wising up to this was a key learning for me!
We need to understand that we take our feelings with us wherever we go. A new relationship, outfit, a new house, a new job, none of these things change how we feel in the long run. Our feelings remain within us until we release them.
How We Repress Emotions
We often dismiss our emotions and either get busy, exercise more, drink or eat a bit more, or just pretend they don’t exist. When we do this we do not feel the emotion and this results in what is called repressed, suppressed or buried emotions. These emotions remain in the body, in the cells, muscles, ligaments and stomach that lead to illness or pain n the body.
The following are a few examples of the methods people use to avoid feeling their emotions
- Ignoring your feelings
- Pretending something hasn’t happened
- Eating foods loaded with sugar and fat
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
- Excessive use of recreational drugs
- Using prescription drugs
- Exercising compulsively
- Any type of compulsive behaviour
- Excessive sex with or without a partner
- Always keeping busy so you can’t feel
- Excessive reading or TV
- Working Excessively
- Keeping conversations superficial
- Symptoms of Repressed Emotions
It takes a lot of energy to keep emotions repressed and buried. If you keep emotions buried for a long period of time, you lower your overall vibrations, and lower vibrations lead to illness and an accelerated ageing process. Buried emotions create fatigue and depression. The following are some of the symptoms of buried and repressed emotions;
- Depression without an apparent cause
- Speaking of issues/interests rather than personal matters and feelings
- Pretending something doesn’t matter when inside it does matter
- Rarely talking about your feelings
- Blowing up over minor incidents
- Walking around with a knot in your stomach or tightness in your throat
- Feeling your anger not at the time something happens but a few days later
- In relationships, focusing discussions on children/ money rather than talking about yourselves
- Difficulty talking about yourself
- Troubled personal relationships with family, friends, acquaintances
- A lack of ambition or motivation
- Lethargic who cares – attitude
- Difficulty accepting yourself and others
- Laughing on the outside while crying on the inside
You have to work hard at burying and repressing your emotions. Emotions are there for a reason. They are part of the rich tapestry of life. Without them we wouldn’t experience feelings of joy or happiness. Negative emotions aren’t a bad thing. They guide us to how we are feeling and why. They are the internal sat nav that tells us something isn’t right. The difficultly comes when we ignore or repress these emotions and don’t learn to control the emotion or release it in a healthy balanced way.
How to take charge of your emotions
Awareness is the first step of change! You may be an emotional person, but do you ever stop to check in with exactly what you are feeling and why? When you experience emotion that doesn’t feel good, ask yourself ‘what is this emotion that I am feeling’ and name it. The simply act of acknowledging what we are feeling by naming the emotion can help us to feel calmer.
Become conscious of your thought patterns. We become so accustomed to thinking in certain patterns that we are no longer aware or conscious about our thoughts. Old habitual thought patterns can then influence the way we feel. For example, if you tend to think of the worst case scenario all the time, then you will release a chemical cocktail within the body affecting how you feel and your physical health. We can never truly know how things will unfold but we can start to create positive expectations that things will go well. Learning to break down old black and white thinking allows us to take a difference perspective.
Be specific about the emotions you are experiencing. People often express how they are feeling in very general terms. A good example of this is depression. You may be experiencing loneliness, boredom, and a lack of creativity in your life. You may be feeling rejected as the result of a relationship breakdown. If you just say you are depressed you will have great difficulty releasing the emotion or finding a solution to the situation causing the emotion.
A good old cry. Crying is a normal healthy releasing function. How many of you have felt better after a good cry? We are born with this ability because through crying we release pain, hurt, and associated stress. Again many of us have been fed the messages of ‘don’t cry’ or ‘don’t be a baby’ which compromises our ability to release what we are feeling.
Writing about your emotions. Keeping a journal can be a very helpful way of identifying how you feel and why and expressing that emotion through writing.
How To Release Emotions
So many people are afraid of emotions and spend more energy fighting them or trying to block them out. People often think that by allowing themselves to ‘feel’ the emotion they may become overwhelmed or out of control. The opposite is true. The more we learn to sit with our emotions and release them in a healthy way, the better we become at how to control emotion when we experience them.
Emotions are neither good or bad, it is only the meaning we attach to them that gives them any power.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is one of the most powerful and effective ways of releasing emotion simply and quickly. By using EFT, often referred to as tapping, we can release a negative emotion often in minutes. Even years of repressed anger or guilt can released using EFT and especially when combined with Matrix Re-imprinting which takes EFT to the next level.
To learn more about how to use EFT to release emotions or to book a session on EFT or Matrix Re-imprinting contact me.
Heart Math breathing is also a powerful way of releasing emotion. Learn more about the power of the heart and how to apply heart math breathing to yourself.
Sara Maude is an Edinburgh Hypnotherapist, Solution-Focused Psychotherapist, EFT Practitioner, Transformational Coach and International Wellbeing Trainer providing in-person and online sessions. Sara provides problem-free therapy which goes deep into the heart of the unconscious mind to create powerful lasting change.