Don’t Cry, Be Patient: What Prohibitions on Feelings Lead to and How Toxic Positivity Harms Us

Don't Cry, Be Patient: What Prohibitions on Feelings Lead to and How Toxic Positivity Harms Us
Don’t Cry, Be Patient: What Prohibitions on Feelings Lead to and How Toxic Positivity Harms Us

Is crying good or bad? Do we show our weakness when we cry or get angry? Why do many of us just not allow ourselves to be weak?

Why Is It Bad to Suppress Your Feelings?

The deeper we push our feelings in, the more it hurts us inside. Repressing your feelings is like trying to hold onto the lid of a boiling pot.

What are the consequences? The consequences can be bodily, emotional, or behavioral:

  • Breakdowns, tantrums, bouts of aggression. Many people suppress feelings because they are afraid of looking hysterical, but the paradox is that hysteria itself is a consequence of long suppression of one’s feelings. The more we tolerate, suppress, ignore, the faster the emotional reservoir fills up. And then even the smallest irritant, like a losing at a demo game at, can be the last straw and provoke a breakdown. 
  • Psychosomatics. Unrecognized and unlived feelings accumulate in the body and sooner or later develop into some kind of symptoms. If we do not allow ourselves to live through feelings, our body can start to ache for us. 
  • Overeating. By suppressing our feelings, we block the flow of life within us. Often it feels like an inner emptiness, vanity, or coldness, and then we seek to fix it on the outside. To somehow calm ourselves down – to eat a package of candy, even though we only wanted to try it, or to start eating, even though we’re not hungry – we’re nourishing feelings instead of living them out. 
  • Anxiety, insomnia. If a person says, “I’m fine, but I have anxiety,” it means he’s not aware of a lot of things. He is comfortable keeping his emotions turned off, but the emotions find a way to knock through the body. 
  • Emotional exhaustion, apathy. Holding onto feelings steals a lot of inner strength and resources, so one of the consequences is a state of lying down and not wanting anything. There is simply no strength for desires, because new desires will give new feelings, and there is no room for them.

Remember, it’s tearing where it’s thin: the more we crush our feelings, the greater the risk that the body will take the hit.

Why Fear, Sadness, and Other Feelings Are Normal and Necessary

There is a resource and value in absolutely every feeling, even unpleasant ones. For example, without irritation and anger, we would never realize that someone has unceremoniously trespassed on our boundaries. Sadness is a way of accepting something, of getting used to it. With sadness we miss, feel pleasantly nostalgic, and live through loss. It can include regret, fear, excitement. Living with sadness gives us the understanding that everything is ending, and there is always light behind unpleasant experiences. Within the sadness is that light. Fear turns on our sense of self-preservation and shows us important points of growth. Fear mobilizes us when we try new things. Fear is not a barrier, but a natural companion to change and a driving force.

How We “Give Ourselves Permission” to Have Emotions and Feelings

All of our feelings are normal. All of the feelings we have are good and important. They only become “bad” and pressured from within when we suppress them ourselves. So, living the feelings is the key to a sustainable foundation of a quality life. 

All feelings are finite. They only seem infinite to us if we repress them. 

Your feelings don’t characterize you completely. Being angry doesn’t equal being angry. Allowing yourself to cry or be sad is not the same as being a sissy. 

Often we suppress feelings because we are afraid of hurting others or looking foolish. Find eco-friendly ways for yourself to let your feelings out in private. You can write them out on paper when you’re sad, punch a pillow, or wring out laundry with your hands when you’re angry. 

Help yourself through your body. When we suppress feelings in ourselves, the body reacts the same way it does when we feel fear-the chest will hold air in. The first thing a person does when he doesn’t want to face his feelings is to hold his breath. So, the best way to unfreeze feelings is to breathe. Try a simple practice:

  • Sit relaxed with a straight back, you can lean on the back of a chair.
  • Relax your hands on your knees, relax your face and stomach, take a deep breath in and out.
  • Close your eyes and start breathing, focusing on filling and releasing alternately: 5 seconds inhale – 5 seconds hold – 5 seconds exhale.

The better the quality of the exhalation, the deeper you can take a new breath. Breathing is what triggers the pulse of life in us. To breathe deeply means to feel deeply. In time, you will be able to notice your feelings in their infancy, then they won’t have a chance to build up inside you.

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