“Bottling up our feelings”: Why is it important for us to feel our feelings?
What does “bottling up” basically mean?
It implies the suppression and blocking of emotions and not letting yourself feel and react freely. One can very easily argue that it might be easier because dealing with emotions can be more burdensome. Hence, one will start bottling up emotions and resort to the same nonchalant reaction for all situations.
Now, imagine yourself reacting to various situations with the same agenda in mind- “I need not display my real emotions so that moving forward is easy”, or “showing my honest reaction might lead to a confrontation which I can totally avoid”, or simply, you do not feel the inclination because you have been bottling up your emotions since long enough. What needs to be understood is that avoiding to properly deal with emotions only makes things worse.
How it affects your overall well-being?
You need to understand that avoiding the depths and variety of emotions that originate and grow in human life is very suffocating for personal growth and mental peace as well.
“Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief, or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same, even if the core emotion differs,” says provisional clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt. “We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory, and self-esteem.”
Our minds and body are linked intrinsically and therefore our mental and emotional health are important aspects of our overall health. Research shows that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, and behavioral factors can directly impact our health.
Negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety, have been linked to disruptions in the normal balance of the stress hormone cortisol and a lowered immune system, and depression has been shown to increase the risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. In fact, a 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester showed people who bottled up their emotions increased their chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30%, with their risk of being diagnosed with cancer increasing by 70%.
You may also want to read: Don’t Bottle Up, Reach Out for Help!
Consequences Of Not Being True To Your Feelings
It is simply about your overall well-being. Repressing emotions and feelings is a response that you can get accustomed to very quickly. Why is this bad? Because if you are not able to cope up with emotions and deal with the situation you will unintentionally start digging a hole for yourself and there will come a point when you will hit the rock bottom. You will have no more space to move and your outburst will be inevitable and uncontrollable. A study from the University of Texas found that by not acknowledging our emotions we’re actually making them stronger.
Of course, the journey to this unfortunate end will be equally painful and tough for your mind and body, taking its toll on the people near you too!
Another obstacle this conscious blockage of feelings will cause would be to your journey of healthy and overall self-growth and self-actualization. If you never embrace, acknowledge and cope up with the various emotions humans are capable of feeling, you would never allow yourself to grow personally, emotionally and mentally to reach a stage of wholeness, where your mind, body, and soul are nourished and you are in absolute peace and calm with yourself and those around.
This not only indicates personal growth but in totality also indicates the possible presence of a community where its citizens are experiencing not only overall development but growth as well.
How to come out of this vicious cycle of ‘bottling up’?
If you have understood whatever you’ve read till now, here are three essential steps that can help you—
Primarily, to deal with your emotions and challenging situations, becoming aware of your mind and body and how they react in said situations is very important. You need to make an effort to understand ‘what’ makes you nervous, angry, frustrated, jealous, insecure, etc, and then try to understand the ‘why’. The former may just need a little more careful observance but the latter might involve some very detailed probing to get correct answers which convince you to at least reduce the bottling up.
The realization will include the aspect of accepting the way you are! You will simply make an effort to realize small yet important traits in you that make you feel and react to various stimuli. This will make you feel more positive about yourself and accept what you like and dislike.
Once you have understood and accepted your way of feeling and reacting, you need to learn and inculcate the ability to confront issues and cope up with situations in the best manner possible.
By which I mean, on one hand, you are reacting freely without holding back without any hesitation or consciousness, and on the other hand, being able to deal with the reaction you get without wanting to back off or misdirect the situation to end the uncomfortable chain of events.
This will make you stronger and avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. This will also help you in embracing the other person’s perspective because you are calm and in contact with your emotions which will make you a better listener as well.
Of course, once you have understood and accepted your emotions and your way of reacting and you have also gained a perspective as to how you can react in challenging situations, you are feeling light and free. It is a task without any question and it’s a long and tedious one as well but that journey of awareness and realization and acceptance makes you comfortable in your own skin and ensures your well-being - of the body, mind, and soul.
The next step which is not exactly a step but a transition into a phase of constant and a state of the settlement would be adopting a mantra that works for you. It doesn’t have to be a category that is limited to your personal life or professional life or both. Rather it should be a way of life you adopt for your well-being.
It can be taking up a fitness regime more regularly or a conviction to learn new things or a resolution to be positive, to not take excess stress, to think before you speak, etc. - it is simply the icing on the cake because you have made efforts to bring a change in your life for good. You have been in a whirlwind of emotions and feelings and you have dealt with it, often giving up and cursing the world. After all that, please do not give up and take this last step seriously so that your hard work initiates the process of prolonged happiness and peace and the well-being of you and your loved ones.
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi