Individual Counseling: Why Does Suppressing Emotions, Hurt?

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Individual counseling can help you identify and correct inaccurate beliefs about your emotions that might hurt you. Emotions, or psychological states, are our natural responses to the world around us. We don’t usually fully express every emotion we feel. Instead, we often down-regulate, change, or even entirely suppress feelings. Terri at Take Charge Inc can help you determine if you are suppressing your emotions through individual counseling.

We have all heard or been told the phrase, “Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”  This phrase sends a message that it is a bad idea to allow your emotions to control you. When you suppress your emotions, you feel overwhelmed and out of control. It can become an issue if it becomes a pattern and affects your ability to communicate authentically. Your emotions motivate you to act, help you avoid danger, help you make decisions, help others understand you better, and help you to understand others better. Feeling anxious about a deadline can motivate you to finish a project on time. Feeling frightened tells you to leave a dangerous situation. When you’ve lost a loved one, feeling sad helps you address the loss you have experienced. When you’ve been poorly treated, anger can help you decide to leave the relationship. This is all extremely valuable to your bodily regulation.

Emotional suppression happens when uncomfortable thoughts and feelings are pushed out of the mind. People do this in various ways, from using distraction, or numbing, to overeating or controlling food intake. Some people often channel strong emotions into physical activity. Focusing our minds on something else helps us forget what is happening inside. Psychological flexibility is essential for coping, but emotion regulation is not aimed at eliminating emotions from our lives; it instead means using them flexibly and intelligently. Reappraising means we temporarily suppress feelings but process thoughts later. When we don’t revisit and push feelings down, this is suppression. Meta-emotion is the term used to describe how a person feels about emotions. While some consider themselves “feelers or empaths,” others do not see emotions as beneficial daily. Prior experiences growing up impact how we feel about expressing emotions or experiencing others’ expressions of emotions. Growing up in a home with a parent with intense emotions, being told to stop crying, or having parents who made crude comments like “suck it up, buttercup” can cause a person to have a maladaptive view of negative emotions. Viewing negative emotions as “bad” can result in unhealthy ways of coping with emotions. Emotional suppression is a coping style that hides or pushes away negative emotions. This coping style is a defense mechanism that people use to protect themselves from unwanted feelings by focusing on positive thoughts and ignoring negative thoughts that are connected to these negative emotions.

It should be known that suppressing emotions has a physiological impact on the body. This is often short-term and causes no lasting problems, but the continual suppression of emotions can have detrimental physical and psychological effects. Some reasons why suppressing emotions can be harmful include:

·        Increased psychological distress
·        Physical health consequences
·        Relationship difficulties
·        Impact on self-esteem and self-worth
·        Lack of emotional authenticity
·        Escalation of emotional intensity
·        Impaired problem-solving and decision-making

It’s important to note that expressing emotions does not mean acting on them in harmful or destructive ways. Instead, it involves acknowledging, accepting, and appropriately expressing our feelings in healthy and constructive ways. It can take time and effort to learn to share your feelings openly. These strategies can help you get more comfortable with your emotions and overcome the urge to suppress them:

·        Practicing mindfulness
·        Sharing your feelings/emotions honestly
·        Taking to someone you trust
·        Reaching out for help

Learning to express emotions authentically isn’t always easy, but individual counseling can help. The common avoidance-oriented coping strategies are an attempt to ignore a situation or its impact and submerge those emotions that accompany it. During individual counseling, we seek to replace these strategies with approach-oriented coping strategies, which focus on managing emotions or changing the situation to make it less stressful. Counseling helps us identify our automatic thinking and learn new skills to solve our problems rather than avoid them. For more information about individual counseling in Overland Park, KS, contact Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255.

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