Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
We do it often: hide emotions. Let's face it, it is a common habit to all, to silence the pain, to bottle up the anxiety, the fear and the anger. Gradually the continuous concealment stops being functional and begins to generate blocks and, with them, to undermine health, spontaneity and personal growth.
For centuries, our culture has placed reason first. Descartes' phrase "cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I exist) introduces us to a reality in which emotions are conceived as a stigma or an element that, in some way, distances us from being civil.
“Walk like a lion, speak like doves, live like elephants and love like a child”.
Perhaps for this reason the child is educated to the idea that crying is synonymous with immaturity and that it is more decent to swallow sadness. We tell him that getting angry and reacting is rude; we teach him to laugh in a contained way, because those who laugh out loud make a bad impression. We convey to him that emotions, especially manifesting them, are an indication of weakness, never a potential to learn to understand and exploit.
“We feel, therefore we exist”, this is the simple reality. Feelings, emotions give us life, repressing them means abandoning it gradually. Masking our emotions is a form of violence. This inner world, in fact, directs our desires, gives wings to our needs.
Emotions and their goals
We could say that we all come into the world with incredible potential to be happy. This is not an illusion, however, there are some things to consider. Genetics, social and family context are predisposing factors to happiness. They even lay the foundations for our potential, allowing us to draw more easily from the cocktail of positive emotions such as optimism, resilience, happiness.
Thus, much of the suffering of the soul that we often carry around without knowing why, comes from our psychic and emotional structure, forged in the very early stages of our life cycle. We receive an education aimed at respecting the rules and knowledge, it is true, but also to manage emotions. And it is precisely this last aspect, the emotional one, that conditions the quality of life, the human potential.
Poor emotional management often leads us to misrepresent many inner realities. We see emotions as choices on a menu that each of us can choose or discard at will (today I feel broken, but I decide to show happiness). Internal dynamics don't work like this: emotions cannot be postponed; they do not die but are transformed: into psychosomatic illnesses and poor living.
Emotions are drives, instincts with specific aims and purposes. Setting them aside means closing the door to an inner reality which, if well understood, managed and oriented, would allow us to obtain greater well-being. Hiding emotions, on the other hand, means giving shape to a malaise that is the basis of a series of psychological disorders.
Hiding emotions is not healthy: learning to work on your well-being
Hiding emotions has an immense cost. You may think that doing so will get better, because no one senses your anxieties, because you feel integrated without attracting attention, because everything stays still, because you can continue to be productive. But until when is it possible to keep this mask?
- Think of emotion as energy, an inner urge that needs expression and movement. By choosing to stifle the emotion, this energy is channeled inward. And what is the result? Muscle tension, gastrointestinal problems, headaches ...
- The stronger the repression, the stronger the emotional expression will sooner or later be. In the end, every repressed emotion seeks a means of resolution, an outlet. And sometimes, it emerges in the worst possible way. We often see this when we try to suppress anger or disappointment: we end up pouring this tension on the wrong person or reacting disproportionately and violently. It is not the most appropriate way.
How to manage emotions?
We have said that the solution is not to suppress, ignore or hide emotions. This emotional energy is there, present and alive. The secret is to let it flow. To better understand how to manage our emotions, let's try to use three simple metaphors.
- Il pozzo. If you choose to leave your emotions at the bottom of the well, you will fall ill. Water that has stagnated for too long goes bad, takes on a bad smell. Avoid giving life to this image, the classic way of hiding our inner reality.
- Lo tsunami. If you choose this strategy, you will end up hurting others. Emotions can sometimes turn into a cyclone, a tsunami. They are thrown with so much anger at others that everyone is a loser.
- The mill. A mill allows the water to move, to flow in harmony. Movement is smooth, nothing stays compressed. The water is fresh and does not stagnate. This is the best image for managing emotions.
It is therefore a question of learning to channel all our emotions appropriately. We have to move with them, start saying what bothers us, react at the appropriate time, be assertive and agile in the face of daily pressures. Essentially, making our emotions a perfect and harmonious engine for our lives, and not a cog that blocks and traps us.