Why You Shouldn’t Be Hiding Your Emotions
Hiding how you feel is never a good idea, especially when it starts becoming a habit. Suppressing your emotions doesn’t lower your ability to feel them, and can be harmful. Find out why you shouldn’t be hiding how you feel.
Hiding how you feel is something all of us have done at one point or another. Whether you’re at a family function where someone has made an intrusive comment, or your partner has said something hurtful. Life is full of experiences and emotions, and it is only natural that your emotions don’t get vocalised as often as they should.
But, many people today don’t process their emotions until it’s too late. Having a healthy relationship with yourself and how you feel is crucial, and emotions play a prominent role. Not doing so can lead to long-term effects. Here is what you should know about emotional stress, suppression, and more.
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The Societal Pressure We Don’t Talk About
While it is not discussed much, the society we live in today doesn’t encourage an outward show of emotions. Dr. Shreya says, ‘’There is a societal pressure to hide, block and avoid emotions instead of confronting them. We are taught from a young age to hide how we feel.’’
Showing or expressing our emotions in today’s world can signify loss of control, especially when these emotions are not positive. People may feel that they become vulnerable to others when their emotions are revealed.
Women are expected to internalise emotions like grief and sorrow, especially in situations where they don’t want to appear weak. The typical ‘real man,’ according to Dr. Shreya, is expected to never cry. Acceptance of angry, aggressive, or violent behaviour is normal where men are concerned, even when these are the warning signs of emotional stress.
To a large extent, emotional expression is dependent on sex-role identification, where all genders are expected to adhere to a specific norm to feel accepted into society.
What Does Avoiding or Denying Your Emotions Look Like?
According to Dr. Shreya, a psychologist at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, hiding or denying emotions has a physical manifestation, which can look like:
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Appetite change
- Sleep disturbance or irregular sleeping patterns
She also says that emotional shutdown (temporary or permanent) can also occur when individuals continually suppress how they feel. ‘’People who appear to always be in control of their emotions may just be adept at masking them. These people can also suffer from emotional disorientation, numbness, detachment, and forgetfulness.’’ You might also notice that they are often restless or fidgety.
An inability to form healthy relationships indicates that emotions are being hidden or actively avoided. While hiding your emotions sometimes is not concerning, it can be concerning for the person and those around them when it becomes systematic behaviour.
Consequences of Hiding Your Emotions
There are long-term effects to hiding or denying your emotions. According to Dr. Shreya, symptoms you should look out for include:
- Physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, rapid palpitations, loss of sexual desire, and lower immunity against colds and infections.
- Psychological symptoms like disorganisation, forgetfulness, attention and concentration problems, negative thoughts and pessimistic ideas, faulty coping mechanisms, and irritability.
Emotional Stress – What’s the Link?
The American Psychological Association defines emotional stress as the feeling of psychological strain and uneasiness produced by situations of danger, threat, loss of personal security or internal conflicts, frustrations, loss of self-esteem, and grief. Prolonged emotional stress can negatively impact a person’s ability to live life they want and impede their daily activities.
According to the American National Library of Medicine, stress can result in any event where you’re feeling angry, frustrated, upset, nervous or overwhelmed.
Emotional stress is often caused when a person’s emotions cannot find a healthy outlet. In many situations, these pent-up emotions can lead to loud or violent outbursts, crying episodes or gaslighting of others’ emotions, harmful to everyone involved in the situation.
According to the Journal of Aging Research, a 2014 study revealed that individuals under constant stress have a 50% higher mortality rate than ordinary people. Emotional stress can lead to deteriorating health, especially when it is not resolved in time.
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Small Steps to Embrace Your Emotions
There is no easy solution to living a life where you don’t feel compelled to hide your emotions. For many, it can be a habit that has been ingrained into their consciousness from a young age, and significant effort will have to be made to reverse it. Dr. Shreya suggests a few methods that can help ensure that you stop hiding or suppressing emotions:
- Regulate emotions rather than suppressing them: Understand the impact of your emotions, or be in check with your emotions. An example of this would be to take a deep breath every time you fail to identify your emotions. Take some time to know what you’re feeling so you can control how they’re expressed.
- Try to accept and relate to your emotions
- Understand and monitor the expression of emotion in your body: An example of this could be keeping a mood journal so you can jot down how you’re feeling throughout the day. Reflect on these emotions periodically to understand what triggers you and more.
- Identify emotional triggers and regulate them, so you are more prepared
- Practice mindfulness and intervention-based techniques that help you get back in touch with yourself.
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Redirecting Your Emotions
A fine balance needs to be maintained, especially where work and personal life are concerned. Life can throw many challenges, but being emotionally healthy and balanced is required to combat them. An emotionally healthy individual can control their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour according to the situation. It doesn’t mean you are hiding or avoiding how you are feeling, but know what requires a response and what requires acceptance.
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be stressed or have negative thoughts, but it gives you the power to deal with them. Embrace your emotions today to feel in touch with yourself and live a happier life.