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Are you emotionally repressed? (cont)
When asked “How do you feel, ACoAs will typically answer with information (head) rather than emotions (Es). They’ll tell a long story, give an explanation or excuse…… But if asked directly ‘What are you feeling emotionally?” a Repressive will answer predictably: “I don’t know”.
HOW can you tell if you’re emotionally repressed?
a. One hint is when everything in life seems rather gray. You may only feel a bit off, as if something’s wrong but don’t know what it is. You’re lonely & dissatisfied with yourself, your life & others around you.
It’s like being allergic to something in the air or mold in the walls – it’s making you sick but you can’t see it. You’d benefit from learning to soothe your wounds!
b. Or it’s a deep sense of anger & disappointment, with no immediate or obvious cause. Sitting on decades of built-up pain (rage, terror, sorrow, frustration, loneliness…) is a lot like a normal-looking mountain that’s really a volcano with gases trapped & bubbling underground, waiting to erupt.
You may want to find the right kind of pressure-valve, some activities that won’t add to the suppression but also won’t harm yourself or others
a. Many studies have made the connection between suppressing Es and OCD, PTSD, auto-immune illnesses & panic attacks.
b. Other studies have shown that deliberately trying to push painful Es out of consciousness can lead to a ‘rebound effect‘, setting up a vicious cycle :
🗡You have a painful emotion. You try to push it away. It lasts a few seconds – or more – & then rushes back in
⚔️ This leads to more pain, which you try to push away again….
Since you can’t stop it from repeating, you start mental recriminations “I can’t do anything right, It’s hopeless, I can’t cope, I’ll never get better” ….
Ways we circumvent Es that are hidden under the carpet (semi-consciously) :
• ignore or pretend something hasn’t happened that upsets us
• isolate, live in our head – constantly intellectualize / analyze
• compulsive activities – overly busy, on the net too much, excessive tv watching, exercising, reading, sex …
• stuff ourselves with food, or ingest things that dull the mind & senses (sugar, wheat, fats, drugs, alcohol…..)
• keep all conversations superficial, especially around someone who is expressing Es, always make something serious into a joke….
• bury anger under a mask of “peace & love – positive thinking” OR hide vulnerability under expressions of anger, cynicism & sarcasm
People refer to ‘being emotional’ as a bad thing. It’s unfortunate that this expression refers to crying or being ‘dramatic’ – as if those are the only emotion people have, even though – when we’re excited, angry, pleased, scared, feel sensual ….. we’re also being emotional!
And even worse, this accusation is targeted mainly at women, who are taught to repress anger, which gets turned in on themself, & then into depression. Outwardly, this can show up as the compulsion to rescue, fix & change the very people who are hurting them, because they don’t have the right to express their outrage directly or leave
Men are not supposed to show fear or sadness, or any other form of vulnerability.
But since men have all the same Es as women, eventually their repression can also turn into depression. And since the ‘softer’ Es are often covered by aggression & busyness, they’re harder to identify.
One way to spot male depression, when it’s not obvious, is when they develop a sexual dysfunction with no physical cause, such as lack of libido (loss of interest). Of course men can be sexually active & still have walking-depression, or be hyper-sexual as a coping mechanism.
• “The only way out is thru!” No method of avoidance is successful – emotions do not evaporate when we ignore them – they just go underground – & fester!