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  • Sabrina Trobak

Suppressing Emotions

Resisting Emotions

I often hear people say they think they are struggling with their emotions.  This isn’t really true.  People aren’t struggling with emotions, people struggle because they resist feeling their emotions.  Once they get better at identifying and feeling their emotions and are able to let the emotions out, the struggle becomes significantly less.  Emotions are not the problem, suppressing them is the problem.

It can be uncomfortable and hard to feel your emotions but once you do allow yourself to feel them you generally feel better afterwards. 

It is much healthier to take time and feel your emotions, no matter how hard, uncomfortable or challenging it is, than it is to push your emotions down and carry them with you.  Suppressing emotions means to have to keep carrying them and as life goes on, more emotions occur and get added to the pile of existing emotions..  Holding on to them for years, even decades is extremely challenging and comes at a significant cost, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Thoughts vs Emotions

Thoughts create emotions.  You have a thought, which then creates a chemical reaction that you feel physically in your body; these are the emotions.

In order to better manage your emotions, you need to be aware of your thoughts and what emotions your thoughts are creating. This can be challenging because many of your thoughts are unconscious, meaning you aren’t aware they are happening.  It is difficult to understand the emotions being created by your thoughts if you aren’t aware of what your thoughts are!

Here are some tips to help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and differentiate between the two:

  1. Writing.  Writing about whatever comes into your head can be helpful in increasing your awareness of the unconscious thoughts.  It can also be helpful in distinguishing whether what is happening is a thought or an emotion.  After you’ve done some writing it is also important to go back and read your writing.  Reading what you wrote can be extremely insightful as well.

  2. Think about whether what is going on in your head/body is a thought or an emotion.  Typically if it is a thought, it will be more of a statement or question and is in your head.  If it is an emotion you will feel it physically in your body like, for example, dry mouth, upset stomach, tight jaw, sweaty palms, tight shoulders etc.  There is a more extensive list of symptoms in my book and in a blog on my website.  This will give you more of an idea of what emotions feel like physically.

What emotions do the following thoughts create for you?

  1.  I am organizing a party for Saturday.

  2.  I am going to be away from work for a week.

  3.  My dog is 8 years old.

  4.  I haven’t heard from my friend in over a week.

  5.  I am home alone all weekend..

Here are some emotions, what do they feel like for you in your body?

sad excited scared mad

calm lonely jealous frustration

unloved rejection unheard joy

love powerless vulnerable embarrassed

happy disgust connected disconnected

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