The Perils Of Repressing Negative Feelings
I firmly believe that positive feelings are much better for you physically, emotionally, mentally and just in general than negative feelings. Either approach makes more of what you are feeling, so positive would be the way to go if you are looking to have a semblance of a happy life.
But what if when those negative emotions and feelings come up, you don’t deal with them and just push them down somewhere in your body or just don’t acknowledge them? The answer: not good things. We like to think of ourselves as highly rational beings, but we’re usually not. We make impulsive decisions every day based on how we feel. We’ve all said and done things in the heat of the moment that we later regretted and can’t take back.
When negative thoughts, emotions or feelings come up, it is best to address them rather than pushing them down or ignore them because they WILL surface again. For the last several years, there has been a strong movement on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not OKAY to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling.
This thought process can produce a level of shallowness to your relationship with life and relationships with other people. It can also lead you to feel that if a negative thought or feeling comes up, in themselves or someone else, they must immediately go the ‘happy place’ or BAD things will happen! When you do this, you are engaging in the act of repressing a part of yourself that needs to be seen, heard, and processed. Those feelings have to go somewhere.
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Consequences of negativity
From the psychology experts, here are some of the consequences of stuffing your negative emotions and not addressing them by a follow up of positive thoughts.
- You do some serious venting with everyone in your life knowing about your issue except the person who is directly involved. You become a complaining pain in the ass.
- Out of the blue, you randomly insert into a fight something from the past that you did not address in the moment! The response you will get is more than likely, “What the hell are you talking about?” or, “What does that have to do with anything?”
- An eye for eye retaliation, acting like everything is just fine and then you completely ignore your partner at every social engagement you attend in order to make him/her feel like crap. Usually the confrontation that follows turns out to be ugly and miserable.
- Self-destructive internalization which brings up thoughts of, ‘I’m not good enough for him/her.’ Then you deal with it by self-destructive behaviors like drinking away your woes or uncontrollable phases of elation and crying.
- Character assassination when you judge an isolated situation to reflect your partner’s total character. He ignores you at a party for an hour and so he simply doesn’t care about you (or anyone else) and therefore sucks and is selfish. You start to expect him/her to act selfishly, which of course creates the scenario for you again.
- Indirect innuendos that is a put down in disguise in a seemingly unrelated conversation.
- You literally make yourself physically sick with worry. Your repressed energy becomes physically lodged in your body, weakening your immune system and contributing to a cold, headache or other illness.
- Blowing up over something trivial and pointless, which of course your partner does not understand the true root of the problem and calls you crazy.
Steps to be positive
Some simple steps can be used to stop the pushing down of negative feelings and allowing them to process in a healthier manner. Being aware of how much influence our emotions have over our lives is the first step to taking charge of them.
- Start taking into account that emotions don’t always represent the truth. Get your facts straight first before you impulsively respond.
- Avoid toxic people as much as you can. Statistics show the average is only five people we spend most of our time with. This isn’t a scientific fact, but it’s a principle that holds true in general. If any of them are negative, unload them.
- Wait two seconds and take a deep breath before responding. It’s amazing how big of a difference two seconds makes when we’re upset. An immediate response to an unkind remark can leave you open for words that reek of spite and malice.
Susan Z’s Verdict
There is no simple switch to turn off negative feelings when they come up but you do have a choice of what do to with them. My closing remark to all the above information is that sometimes a good spat or blowup in the moment has a way of clearing the air of many things, as long as you stay on the issue. Then you can practice being Zen about what pisses you off at later opportunities, as they will almost certainly come up.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.