Repressing negative emotions doesn't make them go away

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Joe Dispenza

Repressing negative emotions doesn't make them go away

We generally perceive negative emotions as something to be avoided and we even tend to think that this way they will vanish. Yet this is not quite the case. The secret is to learn how to manage them.

Last update: February 18, 2022

Our culture usually recommends avoiding and even repressing negative emotions. The concept is that the less we show them, the better because that way we will start trying them less. In short, we tend to think that the ideal is to avoid them.

Fear, anger, resentment, shame or guilt are not welcome. They are badly seen. And although at first glance it is better to get rid of what does not suit us, in reality ignoring it or repressing it is not advisable.

Negative emotions must be expressed, leave them free without letting oneself be carried away by themotherwise they could end up dominating our behavior.

If we know for certain that we shouldn't take a substance because it can harm us, just avoid it. Well, with emotions it doesn't work that way; it is not easy to avoid them without incurring negative consequences. Repressing negative emotions comes with a high price.

What happens to the dust accumulated under the carpet?

Imagine that your negative emotions are a thin - or thick - layer of dust on the floor. If we hid it under the carpet, it would be invisible at first and we could go on with our everyday life.

You know it's under the rug, but since you don't see it, it probably won't bother you. The days go by and every time the dust reappears, go back to hiding it under the carpet.

And so, a little more accumulates every day. You know this, but since you don't see it, you will probably decide to act as if nothing happened.

How long do you think you will be able to keep hiding the fact that you are hiding an increasingly thick layer of dust under the carpet?

Will it take a long time for everything you have to be born under there? Do you think it will take some time before you stumble upon that mountain your carpet has turned into?

Accumulating negative emotions - like that dust you hide under the carpet - it does nothing but postpone the inevitable. At some point all of those emotions will eventually manifest and it may even be that they do it all together, exploding in unison.

Ultimately, in most cases, you will probably find yourself, in one way or another, having to deal with these emotions.

Emotions should not be hidden, but managed

Emotions are a fundamental part of our daily life. Whether you are cheerful because you are watching something funny or that you are getting frustrated by traffic, the others and lows you may experience significantly affect well-being.

Also, your ability to handle emotions can have some impact on how others perceive you. First, don't forget that depending on how we evaluate our experiences, we will respond in a certain way on an emotional level.

Let us not forget that some of these do not require particular management, provided they are suitable for the situation in which they are tried.

For example, expressing anger can make us feel better, but it is usually neither appropriate nor particularly adaptive in many cases. The point is find ways to express it respectfully, calmly and accepting it.

Repressing negative emotions is not a good idea: the advice is to learn to manage them, or to give them a voice and learn to modulate them.

How to control negative emotions

Being able to have some influence and emotions confidence in one's ability to deal with them increases.

First, to manage a negative emotion it is important to start identifying a situation in which it occurs and try to avoid the triggers.

In other cases the solution lies in avoiding certain people in certain situations or in finding a way to calm down and achieve a state of mental peace before facing the threatening situation.

The secret is first of all to identify the negative situation or circumstance in which that particular emotion could be unleashed.

The next step is to change the situation: once identified, try to modify it so that those factors that trigger negative emotions do not take place. Keep in mind that this change will have to come from yourself.

For example, you may have to change your expectations of a situation, lower them; or you may need to take a loving, understanding and empathetic gaze.

It will also be very useful to change the subject of our attention. That is: instead of focusing on what you already know are triggers of negative emotions, focus on other aspects that you like.

Try not to focus too much on what you don't like, but on what makes you feel good, for which you could be grateful.

Become masters of your attention yourself. The price of freedom is to be constantly vigilant. Remember that where your attention moves, your emotions and energies will go there as well. The object you focus on will become more and more real for you.

-Mario Alonso Puig-

Changing the way we think without repressing emotions

Another aspect to be aware of for being able to control negative emotions is to change thoughts. These are at the heart of our deepest emotions; the place where the beliefs that drive them live.

Keep in mind that changing your thoughts may not change the situation, but at least it will allow you to change the way we think the situation is affecting us.

Finally, you can try to change the way you react to negative emotions. If your emotional management mechanisms are not working and they are manifesting in an uncontrolled way, the final step is to try to control the response. This will help you not to repress negative emotions because it will push you to regulate them.

Here is that locate the physical signal that determines the activation of a given emotion is a useful step. Acting on that gesture or reaction will help you control your response.

We could do this through simple gestures, such as taking a deep breath or closing your eyes; gestures that, above all, are useful in managing anger.

Intense negative emotions absorb all of the individual's attention, hindering any attempt to focus on anything else.

-Daniel Goleman-

Remember that the emotions are yours, then you are primarily responsible for their management. The ultimate responsibility for your behavior is yours alone and for this very reason it is essential to be aware of the fact that no one is as guilty as you of the way you respond to yourself on an emotional level.

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