‘When you shut down emotion, you’re also affecting your immune system, your nervous system.
So the repression of emotion, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on. ‘ -Gabor Mate
However, it’s not just your long-term health that can suffer if you suppress your negative emotions.
There have been numerous studies showing that when we ignore our emotions, we can experience short-term mental and physical reactions as well.
Suppressing your emotions can lead to physical stress on your body.
What emotion is being suppressed does not matter, the effect is the same.
When it comes to regulating difficult emotions, there are two ways most people respond: they act out or they suppress.
If you act out with a strong emotion like anger, you will most likely create undesirable consequences in your relationships, your work, and even your play.
The ripple effects of acting out usually provoke more anger around you, which leads to more difficulty.
The consequences of suppressing those big emotions can be even more dangerous.
What many people aren’t aware of is that there’s another way to regulate our emotions: Feel the feeling in real time.
On one level, emotions are like energy waves, varying in shape and intensity, just like ocean waves.
Their nature is to arise and pass away pretty quickly, like all natural phenomena.
Ironically, efforts to “talk yourself out of your emotions” often results in “increased rumination and perseveration.”
In other words, you will keep thinking about and holding onto those emotions you’re trying to avoid.
Research into emotional regulation suggests that mindfulness-based interventions can be helpful.
Particularly focus on feeling the emotion and practicing forgiveness, compassion, and kindness at the same time.