We love to avoid our “negative” emotions, feeling them is just a pain in the ass. We’d rather bury our head in the sand and pretend everything is ‘fine’. Feeling “negative” feelings or at least trying to process them can feel like a bad hangover. If you were raised in a household where you were not allowed to express certain feelings, then you may feel uncomfortable when exposed to these feelings; I know I certainly am.
It’s necessary and healthy for us to feel all our emotions, including anger, sadness, anxiety, and boredom. When we don’t it can lead to suppression of emotions, which then leads to depression.
Why may some people avoid, deny and hide their feelings
It may be a behaviour developed from childhood. I know for me, my avoidance started when I was a child, I wasn’t given the opportunity to express my feelings and was often harshly reprimanded.
I didn’t really realise I had been avoiding my feelings until University. Even when I started trying to feel my feelings, I wasn’t really trying to feel them. I picked up the journaling practice, and I would release my thoughts onto the paper, but at surface level. I couldn’t really expose my authentic feelings, the thought of doing that freaked me out. Since I’d been suppressing my feelings since childhood, I was scared to process them, the thought made me hella uncomfortable.
When people are put down for expressing their feelings, they may feel invalidated and unheard.
In addition, they may also feel:
- Worthless or Unworthy
- Disapproved of or rejected
- Misunderstood or not listened to
- Unloved, not cared about or wanted
- Insulted or disrespected
- Inadequate, looked down upon, or inferior
- Humiliated or embarrassed
- Helpless, weak, or defenseless
- Guilty, shameful, or like a failure
There are also sexual differences in terms of feeling emotions, men, for example, are likely to avoid wounded feelings in fear that it’ll comprise their sense of masculinity. On the other hand, women fear that disclosing their emotional distress may lead them to be told by people that they’re too sensitive.
There are also times where we don’t want anyone in our business, however, it can be problematic if we’re avoiding close friends.
In addition, there may be moments where conflict could temporarily rise, and most adults dislike conflict. For example, let’s say you’re on a training programme and for the last couple of weeks colleagues have been rude and disruptive, you may find yourself thinking about whether to confront them or keep your feelings to yourself.
We tend to worry about how the other person will react, the thought of expressing ourselves feels uncomfortable.
The issue with avoiding, denying and hiding your feelings
It leads to suppression, which is a conscious effort to avoid your feelings and lead to depression. For me suppressing my feelings lead to hardcore headaches, restlessness, and low moods.
It’s unhealthy to keep them “negative” feelings in as they can grow resentment, bitterness, and hostility.
According to the Journal of Psychosomatic, a study suggested that there was a risk of premature death from all causes increases by about 35 percent among those who fail to say how they feel.
How can you manage and deal with your feelings in a healthy way
You can manage your difficult feelings by having a moment and actually feeling them. This can be done in a number of ways such as talking to oneself, journaling, reflecting back with a friend, using a creative outlet such dance, music, or art, or speaking to a qualified mental health professional.