My clients regularly discuss, complain, and lament the numerous ways they are impacted by a spouse, partner, family member, friend or co-worker who does not share feelings — especially the feelings that significantly impact their relationships. And although I know, in detail, the potential damage that results from not knowing the way the “other” person we are dealing with feels, let’s for a bit focus on what it does to YOU when you are the one not sharing/discussing/ processing what you feel.
Here’s a metaphorical way to consider what happens with unexpressed or unprocessed feelings. Imagine that you ingest multiple calories through ice cream, French fries, other sweets and carbs and never exercise. It’s just not metabolized and consequently settles in various unattractive places on your body…….in fact, on a long term basis, it does physical damage to practically every part of your body.
EMOTIONS/FEELINGS, like food, need to be metabolized! And that is for YOUR well-being, let alone the well-being and hoped for success in your relationships — personal or work.
Think of how frequently you stop yourself from saying something that is truly important to you — something that disturbs you, hurts or troubles you, worries you about anything you are feeling or experiencing in ANY part of your life. Let’s make it not especially scientific with a rating scale…#1 means you rarely share what you feel….. # 10 means you frequently share. And although there is no right/wrong or good/bad, there is the reality that the less frequently you share the less you are METABOLIZING.
But there are exceptions to just speaking up. You can metabolize feelings through EXERCISE. A good 20 to 30 minutes of cardio will help a lot. Most people can’t maintain a bad or challenging mood through 20 minutes of cardio…you get a natural lift.
You can also metabolize feelings writing in a journal. The more thoughts you get out of your head onto paper….(vs typing on tech device) the more release you will feel. An additional plus is you are more likely to see and hear your thought distortions….the things running through your mind that are serious exaggerations of reality. Once on paper you are more likely to confront or question what you’re thinking and feeling.
And yet another option: Meditation. The focus calms the brain, makes you deeply aware of the PRESENT moment vs whatever you are upset about. And it helps you consider healthy options for your next steps.
So, talking honestly, exercising, writing, and meditating are all forms of METABOLIZING emotions. And the bigger question: what happens if you don’t? Most simply they build up… they stack up….they multiply and lose perspective. Thought distortions always enter when feelings aren’t metabolized. You make something far worse than it really is.
And in my experience, individuals suffer physically as well as emotionally through lack of a healthy outlet for important feelings. Finally the build up becomes difficult to “hold in” and more likely to result in an unnecessary outburst or unpleasant encounter or fight. It’s what I describe as the result of an “over loaded trash compactor”…..there’s simply no more room to stuff unexpressed feelings….so the lid flies off and now you are faced with relationship damage.
When the trash compactor is full, some individuals feel chest pain, difficulty breathing normally, stomach pain, discomfort in the solar plexus and the throat…. think of it as your body trying hard to talk to you! Our systems are truly smart and will make every healthy effort possible to get our attention!
If your argument is: it causes more trouble to talk about “it,” take some time to reflect on that. Try talking to anyone you feel safe with and see if you get the idea that it helps. And if you want to read more about the trash compactor, about thought distortions, try two of my books: RELEASE FROM POWERLESSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE. And, WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH!
You deserve to feel good….so talk about what you feel to someone you trust. And you can always contact me with questions.