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A Box of Emotions

Why do some people keep all of their emotions inside?  Some learned early on in life to hold emotions inside because when they did let them out, the outcome was negative.  They never saw anything good come from airing emotions and they assume that keeping them inside is safer and reduces conflict.  When people grow up with an overabundance of negative emotions, they may choose to internalize their feelings because they don’t want to re-live their childhoods.  Many people perceive sharing emotions as a weakness and fear others will use their feelings against them.  Ironically there are certain professions that reinforce keeping emotions inside since they can be a detriment to job performance.  For example, we wouldn’t want our surgeon or airline pilot to be very emotional when they are actively engaged in their job.  People get very good at compartmentalizing emotion as a means of coping.  Unfortunately, some professionals can’t separate their work persona from their home persona.

So what happens to those feelings?  Sometimes they pop out at times when you least expect it or get buried so deep that numbness is the only feeling you are cognizant of.  Holding emotions inside can be damaging both to your physical health and emotional well-being.  Some emotions can fade over time, but more significant feelings don’t disappear on their own.  Talking about feelings, writing about emotions, and actually experiencing them can help in the process of letting them go.  While some people struggle with identifying their feelings, others have a difficult time verbalizing them.  Of course like anything else it takes time and practice to get better at naming and sharing feelings.  Can you name ten emotions?  Most people (especially men) struggle to name even five feelings.

There is great value and benefit in sharing our emotions with others. Of course we are talking about appropriate, healthy and constructive expressions of emotion.  Our ability to talk about what we feel enables us to release the emotion and let go of the internal conflict.  Emotions connect people.  So when we share feelings with others we actually have deeper and more intimate connections.  Ironically when we try to suppress our negative emotions, we also suppress our positive emotions resulting in a muted emotional experience.  Allowing ourselves to share feelings also frees us and reduces the internal burden that many carry.   Sharing our feelings makes us more human, humble, and approachable which has a positive effect on our relationships.  This holiday season give the gift that keeps on giving.  Unpack your box of emotions and share your feelings so that loved ones can deepen their connection to you.

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