By Lisa Cypers Kamen.
There are essentially two different kinds of people in the world: the ones that express their feelings, letting out everything that bothers them, whether it be to a diary, a friend, or even a random passerby, and those that bury their feelings deep within.
The question is, what is the consequence of hiding or suppressing your emotions? What are the consequences of unfettered self-expression? when it comes to being happy, who ends up on top: the silent sufferer or the vocal whiner?
For Freud, the answer was clear: he believed emotional inhibition caused psychological illness, which is why he designed his “talk therapy.” In talk therapy, patients whose expression had been seriously curtailed (and therefore were experiencing a “strangulated affect”) were essentially liberated through, well, talking.
In a famous study on emotional suppression conducted by Dr. Daniel Wegner, Ph.D., Dr. Wagner found that due to a rebounding effect, trying to suppress your emotions causes you to think about them even more!
Another problem with suppressing your emotions or hiding your feelings is that you can only do it for so long. At some point or another, we all reach or breaking point. Have you seen the movie, Father of the Bride, in which Steve Martin famously goes bananas over hotdogs and hotdog buns in a supermarket? (Check out a clip on YouTube.) I have a feeling it wasn’t the hotdogs and buns he was actually upset about.
On the other hand, unfettered expression can have its downside as well. You may run the risk of oversharing, which occurs when you share your emotions with the wrong people or in the wrong context. Let’s say you had a terrible fight with your mother. The hairdresser you share with your mother may not be the right person for you to express the intimate details of that fight with. Or, let’s say you are experiencing high levels of stress at work. A first date may not be the right time to express that either.
Finding the perfect balance between expressing your feelings and not oversharing is what I like to call, “the Art of the Fine Whine.” Before you express your feelings to another person, see if you can express them in writing to yourself, or in the form of a physical release. Then, decide who the right person would be for you to communicate your feelings to. Oftentimes, if another person is the cause of your negative feelings, then he or she might be the right person for you to go to and seek out a resolution.
Not only will you feel better, a healthy, honest, communication exchange will likely bring you closer and prevent the same problem from occurring in the future. Through the Art of the Fine Whine, you will free yourself from the consequences of suppressed emotions and become a happier, more liberated version of yourself.
Happiness is an inside job. ®
Shake up your usual workout routine by taking a yoga class. While you are there, pay attention to the people around you. It’s possible that you’ll notice someone spontaneously start crying. Chances are, your yoga neighbor won’t be crying from pain: he or she is crying because of an emotional release. Unexpressed emotions oftentimes find their way into our muscles, particularly in the hips, shoulders, chest, and throat. These areas get stretched and realigned during yoga, which is a great way to release some emotions without even having to say a word.