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  • renelonis


Why is it that we suppress feelings when it sometimes feels unnatural or unwise in certain situations? That's what I'm going to tell you in this blog.

We all have feelings, some just express them more than others you could say. When you suppress your feelings you do not allow yourself, consciously - or unconsciously,

to experience or express them, which can negatively affect your mental health.

There are four basic feelings: fear, anger, happy and sad. Most feelings are more or less derived from these. They arise in situations: in which there is danger, for example, when someone crosses your boundary or harms you, when you have graduated or when you lose an important thing or someone. For each of these feelings comes with a different task. For instance, joy needs to be expressed and shared and anger needs direction. When you express this feeling by sharing your joy with your friends about having passed your exam, or when you bang your fist on the table and shout "enough is enough!", the feeling is transformed into an emotion.

What is suppressing a feeling exactly not? The other day when I was walking home from school with my son and we were chatting cheerfully, we were about to pass a church where a funeral was in progress. I told him: ´Wait a moment, we have to be quiet now because of the funeral.´ I then consciously chose to reflect on the grief of the people waiting in front of that church. My mood changed from cheerful to neutral as a result.

You can benefit in the short term from not expressing your feelings. For instance, as a child, I can remember going to a new school after moving and the teacher forgot that I would start that day. And there I was, all alone in front of a full class. I didn't know where to sit and felt alone. I could barely hold back the tears I felt coming up. Finally the teacher arrived, she apologised, pointed me to my seat, pfff, a relief and a sigh. So that's how quickly a feeling changes. The above makes it clear that I wanted to avoid embarrassment (short-term gain). That was successful, but on the other hand the feeling of sadness was pushed away, like a ball under water. And that feeling actually wanted to be expressed. When certain feelings are put away continuously or repeatedly in certain situations, you can speak of suppressing feelings. Often this happens unconsciously.

From our upbringing, or from our culture, we learn which feelings are more accepted than others and to what extent we are allowed to express them. In that sense, therefore, there is no right or wrong. However, those around you might have to guess how you are doing and this causes problems in contact with others. Another consequence could be that you go over your own limit for too long, get overworked or suffer burnout.

Suppressing feelings can also be a way of forgetting negative past experiences. The advantage is that it allows the person to continue functioning. An extreme example of this is when a soldier on the battlefield will not cry or hide out of fear. Afterwards, however, space will have to be made for the suppressed feelings again, otherwise all kinds of physical and psychological complaints may arise. Fortunately, for most of us, the above example is a situation we don't experience easily. Still, unpleasant situations you have experienced may have caused you to have to suppress many feelings, to survive in a figurative sense. This is very sad. Even though you can't change the past, Gestalt therapy or Brainspotting can still help you process these experiences. Then it is no longer necessary to suppress these feelings and all your feelings may become visible to yourself and others again


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