Here’s What Happens When You Try To Suffocate Your Emotions

Throughout our lives, we often try so hard to avoid or escape feeling anything that creates discomfort within us. It seems rational, right? Yet every emotion we experience serves a purpose, even the feelings we consider to be “bad”—sadness, confusion, guilt, annoyance, shame, doubt. We must learn to allow ourselves to feel them as thoroughly as possible, no matter how uneasy they might make us feel in that moment.

Choosing to suppress our emotions is mostly led by fear. Fear that if we allow ourselves to think about our feelings for too long, then they will consume us and never leave. That if you let yourself be sad, even for a moment, then you will never be happy. So, we suffocate those emotions. Trying our hardest to push them down into the deepest and darkest parts of our subconscious. By doing this we think we are defending and protecting ourselves, when in reality we will inevitably cause ourselves more pain, simply by ignoring how we really feel.

You must understand that emotions won’t kill you. They are not a part of you; they are a temporary and fluid part of our existence. So, they will only stick around longer than necessary if you refuse to let yourself feel.

Of course, you might think that to become numb to your feelings would be progress, but here’s the truth about numbness: It’s a lie. Neutral is feeling nothing, not numbness. To feel numb is to feel everything, but in the worst possible way because you are not accepting or processing those emotions. If they don’t have an outlet, you ultimately give them the power to control your life and cause destruction in the long term.

Let me give you a firsthand insight into this. In my early twenties, toxic people in my life convinced me to believe that showing emotion was a sign of weakness. That I should never be sad or scared and absolutely never cry. So what did I do? I suffocated every single feeling I had. I rewarded myself if I made it through a hard day while managing to feel nothing. But do you know what else I never experienced? Happiness. Because here’s the reality: We cannot be selective about our emotions. If we suppress our bad feelings, we suppress everything.

It wasn’t until those hidden feelings came crashing to the surface one day, hitting me like a tidal wave, that I truly understood how much damage I had been doing. I hit rock bottom, and it felt impossible to make it through each day while years of suppressed emotions were raging like an inferno inside of me. And that’s when I understood that numbing yourself is not healing. Those hidden emotions are not gone, just buried under the surface and waiting to be set free. And so we become trapped in a cycle with that same unresolved trauma, never moving forward.

True emotional intelligence is achieved when you allow yourself to feel any and every emotion, no matter how difficult they may be or how irrational you might think you are being. Experiencing sadness, worry, or guilt does not mean you are falling apart, it just means you are being truly honest with yourself. It’s a part of being human—we are not meant to be happy every second of the day.

So the next time you become overwhelmed with feelings you consider to be bad, don’t fight them. Let them out in whatever way possible. Speak to someone you trust, write in a journal, cry. It doesn’t matter how, just set them free. Only when you have released those feelings can you begin to process them. Listen to what they are telling you. How do you feel about the situation? Understand them. Why do you feel those specific emotions? Learn from them. What has this taught you and how can you grow from this?

Finding clarity about yourself and your emotions is the gateway to acceptance. If you never go through this vital emotional processing, you deny yourself the ability to close that chapter of your life, move on, and find peace.

About the author
Relationships & Emotional Intelligence Writer Follow Frankie on Instagram or read more articles from Frankie on Thought Catalog.

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