We are all guilty of bottling up feelings at some stage of our lives. It could be that we are not sure how to deal with them, or are afraid that others may not understand us. It could be that we think we have to carry on doing other things because they are more important. And sometimes we may think that showing feelings may be perceived as being weak. Sounds familiar? Then read on.
Sometimes this process is so automatic that you may not realise that you are doing it. So how can you tell if you are bottling up your feelings? There is a price you pay for it and here is how you may start showing the signs:
1. Experience tension in different parts of your body
This is often a sign that you are stressed. And bottling up your emotions is a very real stress as it is an activity that is opposite to your natural drive to show what is happening inside and do something about it! Are you prone to neck ache or backache, or chest pains? Those are signs that should not be ignored.
2. Become irritable
If your emotions are bottled up, your mind will often find a different way of attracting your attention to your feelings, and even if you fail to notice this, others will not! It is a sure sign that your mind is desperately trying to take care of undealt-with emotions.
3. Become tearful
This is a similar way to becoming irritable but is usually displayed by people who have tendency to feel down. Sometimes your mind is just overloaded with emotions and you may start crying as a response to maybe even a trivial issue. Not too bad if you are on your own, but can be rather embarrassing if you are among other people.
When you experience any of the above quite often, it may be a good idea to stop and ask yourself what emotions you are not allowing yourself to deal with. It may be sadness, anger, loneliness, fear, guilt or grief. Whatever they are, neglecting your emotions over a prolonged period of time can become more than just uncomfortable, as your confidence in dealing with life’s every day challenges decreases.
The good news is there are ways to deal with your feelings as they come and even though some of them may be harder to learn than others, when you finally learn to help yourself it can feel very liberating. Let’s look at some of them:
1. Become mindful of what the emotions are
Identify them. This does not mean you should show them as soon as you become aware of them, no matter what the emotions are, because you may frighten yourself and others who will witness what is happening to you. It just means acknowledging your emotion, which can help you then to decide how you would like to deal with it at this moment of time.
2. Accept the feeling
Sometimes we are scared of our feelings, and so we hide them. But if you actually accept that you feel sad, angry, exhausted, whatever the feeling is, it often allows you to feel more comfortable in yourself.
3. Decide when it is safe to express your feeling
It may be that if you express your feeling right now, you may get into trouble. It does not mean that you have to hide it, you may just need to think about the best setting and time to get your feeling known to the relevant person(s). It means taking care of your wellbeing rather than mindlessly explode without thinking it through. If you decide to deal with your emotion later, you are more likely to be rational about it, rather than overwhelmed by it.
4. List options you have to deal with your emotion
There will usually be more than one option, and once you have stopped being overwhelmed by your feeling, it is usually easier to find different options and decide which one is best for you. It may involve an honest chat with someone, a pillow punching session,
5. Find a trusting person who you can talk to first
Sometimes it is good to talk to someone who you trust first, and you may find that just talking about your emotions can help you become calmer and happier.
People can sometimes become so accustomed to hiding their emotions, that they don’t realise they have done it for years. If you are one of them, you might want to check if you are getting the symptoms of bottling up your feelings and find a kind person or a trained therapist who will listen to you, and help you put things into a better perspective. Dealing with bottled-up feelings may take a short time or may take a little longer, depending on the person and the feeling, but the result is usually a great relief and wellbeing, so I am inviting you to get them off your chest!