For years I stuffed feelings down, keeping them locked away deep inside me. During that time, I learned from experience the consequences of stuffing emotions down. Medical doctors and alternative care doctors warned me (they saw it coming because they were already seeing the effects), yet it would be another 10 years before I finally crashed big time as a result of stuffing down emotions and plowing through life. That's what happens when we stuff down emotions.
But how does one express feelings like anger in a way that is healing, productive, and doesn't damage someone else? Is it possible to express sadness without collapsing? Can we tune into fear without panicking? I learned how . . .
Feelings have different levels. For example, what starts out as a mere annoyance can escalate to feeling aggravated, and maybe even furious or livid if the original issue that caused the annoyance is left unaddressed. It doesn't serve the other person, nor does it serve us to ignore the problem and stuff the anger down. Relationships can become damaged, and we can become damaged.
By all means, if we can just let the offense go, we should do so. Anger is a signal that a boundary has been overstepped or violated, and sometimes simply reestablishing the boundary on our own and moving on is all that's needed.
At other times, communication is beneficial. First, though, be sure you understand—and I mean really understand. In another post, I share this simple tip: ask a question like "What do you mean?" or "That's odd, what makes you say that?" to gain clarity that will help you to reestablish the boundary and restore the relationship. It’s important to ask in a kind and curious voice to show you genuinely want to understand the other person. Sometimes I’ve found that the thing that caused me to feel annoyed was something I simply didn't understand.
Most times people don’t mind answering a simple question like this for clarification, especially when nothing negative was intended by their comment or action. And even if something was intended to be hurtful, then asking for clarification provides an opportunity to heal the breach and come to an understanding. Simple, gentle communication is so good and healing.
It was important to me that these things that I learned aligned with my moral code, my spiritual understanding, and my faith. When it comes to expressing anger, I learned that the Scriptures provide guidance about how to properly express it and heal relationships. The same is true for sadness and fear. These emotions are gifts from our loving Creator to help us. My favorite research guide that gives me insight on Scripture helped me understand this. Looking up each emotion and examining it in light of Scripture is very revealing. Even the emotion of jealousy has a healthy purpose and is the emotion underneath dedication and commitment. Isn’t that fascinating? But please do your own reading and research—don’t just take my word for it!
The other thing that can happen with emotions is that they get displaced in time. This can happen when something someone says or something we experience activates an old wound. It’s like having a scar that we’ve long forgotten about until something bumps into it hard. Our memory is suddenly activated and opens a flood of feelings we may not have expected. That happened to me last year, and that’s what led me to learn how to use my sense of smell to come back to center, heal the old wounds completely, and move forward renewed and refreshed. Does that sound like something that would help you? If so, please contact me so I can share more with you that would help with your particular challenge.
Before I learned all of this, one doctor had told me that if I didn't learn to express my feelings, it was going to kill me. And it nearly did. Damage accumulates if we don't get to the source and address what needs fixing.
Special Announcement for March!
In March we'll be doing a live workshop on Emotional Balance where I'll be sharing new information. You can take the Emotional Balance self-paced course or you can join us for the live interactive workshop - waitlist is here
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