WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE REPRESS EMOTIONS?

Video Transcript: Interview with Jeff Duke, MSW RSW, Registered Social Worker

“Today I want to talk a bit about repressed emotions and what can happen when we don’t fully experience what we’re feeling in the moment.

A lot of times when people go through something difficult, they often bring up negative emotions from within themselves, and those are difficult to deal with. So rather than feel them, they tend to push them down. And that’s what just about all of us do. It’s completely normal.
But what happens is when we push them down, we assume, okay, they’re gone. The reality is that we’re actually just pushing them down into our bodies and they’re being stored up in our bodies. And what people don’t understand is that whenever you feel an emotion, you’ve got sort of a physical sensation that’s going off in your body. And that’s actually an energetic release. And what happens with energy, as we’ve learned in science class is you have two choices…

You can either let the energy flow or you can store it up.

But even when you store it up, the energy still wants to flow. So what happens is for each emotion we store up over time in our bodies, initially it starts gently trying to keep moving, push its way out, but over time it increases in momentum, trying harder to get out. And if we were only to do this a few times in our lives, repressed emotions wouldn’t be a big deal. But in our lives we often go through a lot of negative experiences and we often wind up repressing a lot of negative emotions and the reality is all of us have a physical threshold of how much we can tolerate. You’re not able to push it down. And some of the negativity from the past comes up as well.

One way to look at this and understand it more clearly is to imagine that repressing emotions can be like amassing toxic credit card debt. But imagine that just like when you’re spending money and you put money on a credit card initially there’s the amount that you bought the item for and then if you don’t pay it off, there’s the compound interest that keeps accruing over time. Well, it’s a similar idea with emotions.

There’s the initial emotion you didn’t feel that you store up in your body, and then there’s the ever increasing energetic force trying to get its way out. That compounds over time and eventually what will happen is if you go through enough negative events, you’re eventually not going to be able to contain it anymore and you’re going to experience a lot more intense emotions. You’re going to feel a loss in control, and you’re going to start wondering why it is that “I feel this bad over something that isn’t that upsetting. This doesn’t make any sense.”

If you have any questions about this or if you want to learn more about working through and processing emotions, that’s something we can help out with here at Bhatia Psychology Group. And thank you very much.

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