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Neglecting Your Feelings/Emotions Is Unhealthy. What Can Be Done About It

The emotional demands of today's life are plenty. Emotionally explosive combinations can be triggered by factors such as the pressure to achieve, the urge to "keep up," the fear of losing out, and the desire for positive relationships and job fulfillment.


Unfortunately, in today's culture, individuals are taught not to embrace their feelings, but rather to repress and suppress them. We are experts at numbing ourselves: between booze, pills, and screens, we can choose from a wide variety of methods. When we do pay them attention, it's with rote platitudes we've been repeating since we were kids. It's not healthy for your mind or body to suppress your feelings ("mind over matter," "get a grip," and "suck it up" are common expressions). It's the mental equivalent of simultaneously applying full throttle and full brakes on your automobile.



Emotions contain energy that rises to be expressed, and to tame them, our thoughts and body employ ingenious strategies, such as tightening muscles and holding the breath. Anxiety and sadness, both of which are on the rise in the United States, may have their roots in the way we process these primal, natural, hard-wired survival feelings. Repressing feelings because they are too intense or contradictory causes mental and physical strain, which in turn manifests as emotional anguish and physical ailments. Stress of the emotional variety, such as that caused by emotional blockage, has been connected not only to mental illness but also to physical ailments including heart disease, digestive issues, migraines, sleeplessness, and autoimmune illnesses.


Most individuals let their feelings control them without realizing it. Yet once you do, understanding your own feelings may be a huge benefit.


Think about Max, one of our team members who was incredibly bummed because because he couldn't get the automobile he wanted. Max felt a wide range of emotions when his dream of owning an automobile was crushed. Although while Max knew his stomach problems were related to stress, he didn't know that his emotions were specifically causing the acute stomach aches he was experiencing. He had no idea how to make himself feel better because he hadn't been paying attention to his feelings.


Researchers in the field of neuroscience have shown a correlation between a person's emotional and conflict load and their anxiety levels. The vagus nerve, one of the body's primary emotional hubs, plays a role in this. It sends messages to the heart, lungs, and intestines in response to emotions activated in the midbrain. The survival instincts are activated by these signals, and the body is prepared to respond quickly and effectively. Before a person is even conscious of feeling fear, their body is primed to take action. This is why we can't just decide how we're feeling at any given moment. For Max, for instance, the sight of the automobile brought on quick feelings of loss, shame, and rage. Instantly, his stomach began to hurt.


Max's stomach pain persisted until he learnt in therapy to identify and label his emotions as discrete physical sensations.


Emotions' effects on both physical pain and recovery are increasingly being explored in psychotherapy. Despite its rapid expansion, the discipline is not yet integrated into established medical practice. The study of human emotions is not yet required coursework for social work majors, psychology Ph.D.s, or medical students.


People would benefit much from learning that their emotions are not within their conscious control. Emotions arise from a part of the brain that is not under conscious control, so we have no choice but to feel them when they are triggered.


Yet, people might start to feel better when they are taught about emotions and given the tools to work with them. Max felt better once he let himself experience sadness. He was heartbroken because he couldn't get his dream automobile. After realizing his anger was normal, he accepted it. And he developed strategies for channeling that rage in ways that benefit rather than harm himself and others. The shame he felt lessened as a result of his self-compassion practices. This is the case with all primal emotions, once he felt them all, they dissipated. He was able to alleviate his stomach pain by reprogramming the activity of the vagus nerve in his brain.


The majority of us have been socialized to believe that it is best to avoid expressing negative or confusing feelings. But, in order to repair the mind, it is necessary to feel the emotions associated with our tales. Anxiety sufferers might find relief from their symptoms by learning to recognize and manage the underlying emotions that fuel their feelings.

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