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Don't Bottle Up Your Emotions

Uncategorized Oct 20, 2021

There are so many reasons that we, as humans who are a part of a family unit, might bottle up our emotions.

But I am here to tell you that it is one of THE most unhealthy things you can do. PERIOD.

From a young age, many of us have been taught that it is either okay or not okay to say things that others don't like. Sometimes it might be unkind or inappropriate to share certain feelings e.g. negative or hurtful things even if we feel them. 

While this is true, it can also be true that this will damage the person who keeps their emotions to themselves and create an inner turmoil within them.

Over time, lack of expression will erode that persons’ inner happiness. It creates a dark feeling of not being heard or loved. This is where depression, anger, and frustration dwell. It is a path that many people go down and it is unhealthy for us.

Having emotional expression, feeling heard, being accepted by our family/friends, and being loved unconditionally is essential for all humans to grow. In order to develop safely into healthy adults who feel safe to express their needs/wants and sometimes more importantly dislikes too we need to be able to express our emotions. We all need to be our truest selves good, bad, and ugly. 

Each of us needs to feel safe to do this. When we might not have grown up in an environment of fostering healthy communication and discussions about how we feel, we can become insecure adults who need to hone these skills. But that is totally okay, I am right there with you. I didn’t always get the signals growing up that it was okay to disagree, argue, or voice my true thoughts. My parental unit was not comfortable with my lack of alignment with her own emotions, and it was often a charged affair to be heard. Truly heard. 

Instead of keeping quiet, I was the kid who spoke up even though it was unpopular to do so. But I didn’t do this very often. Instead, I was like a pressure cooker who took my emotions and shoved them deep down inside. Swallowing how I felt and kept getting more and more quiet. Then like Mt. Vesuvius I would explode in a non productive, overreacting way to one little thing that I didn’t like. Granted, no one likes it when someone doesn’t respond appropriately, but this was true anger. I held it together and pointed all my frustrations at my mom. Often and with great gusto. 

What I learned was: don’t talk about your feelings, it’s not okay to disagree, and if you get mad you might make others upset.

So it took me a lot longer to easily express myself and became a classic people pleaser who was pretty irritated on the inside. Which became a big issue as adolescents began. 

I began having horrible periods with cramps, pain, and all sorts of PMS symptoms. But I knew life could be better so I began to work on myself even then. And I am still a huge work in progress! I began journaling and creating vision boards and scrap books, which was so easy because it was the 80’s and I could keep magazines, catalogs, and stickers to create these visions of what I wanted. It was a good way to reflect and connect with my mom who is very creative and it helped to have my own place to be me.

As for my hormones that went out of control, I began seeing an acupuncturist and taking herbs to support my stuck-ness. My liver was so unhappy. I also begrudgingly started to meditate again (yep, my parents were meditation teachers and I rebelled against them-hahahahah) and began dancing class too. Moving my energy, clearing my mind, and supporting my muscles was the best medicine. Creating these tools gave me a sense of control most 12 yr olds don’t have. But it worked. And I began to have more balance and was able to share how I felt in a more metered way. 

According to Chinese medicine, whenever we keep your thoughts bottled up, we allow our energy to get stuck (otherwise known as stagnation).

When stagnation occurs, it leads our blood to slow down. When this happens our organs and tissue is not nourished as easily. It can lead to frustration/anger or even pain and discomfort.  

Once physical changes happen, it is a little more difficult to treat then just stuck energy. More symptoms happen and emotions shift this is when we really need to get quiet and listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. Ever here the saying if you listen to the body’s whispers you won’t have to hear it scream (adapted from a Cherokee proverb)? So whispers might be sighing more often, craving sweet/sour/salty snacks, being more irritable. As your energy get more stuck or for a longer period of time-symptoms like anger outbursts, acid reflux, headaches, inability to sleep, anxiety attacks and side stitches or muscle cramps. See the progression??

Listening to our inner voice and creating course corrections on how we feel when it’s a whisper will make showing up authentically so much easier. Creating time to slow down and know what’s in your heart is a shows up as sighing, frustration or anger.

What’s the solution? Get moving - yoga, dance, exercise, sing your heart out or play an instrument. Creating a time out to hear your inner voice on a regular basis to meditate and journal is a great start. Beyond that, speak your mind even if it’s out loud in your shower or car to yourself.

Don’t bottle up your feelings because you are important and most affected when you do.

Stress goes into our bodies and it’s our job to keep it moving and figure out ways to de-stress on a regular basis. These are just some of the tools we have available. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety seek out your care provider and find a plan to support you. Therapy is an amazing addition to the ideas above. I have needed the extra support during difficult times in my life and have learned so much about myself in the process. It’s okay to not be okay.

Remember, we all have the power to heal and it may take a lot of work but we can grow, change and thrive with the right information and tools.

So I think taking time throughout the week to reflect about where you are, emotionally speaking, is essential. Having quiet time to check in with ourselves will allow what isn’t working to be addressed and make actionable steps to support ourselves. Look at how we show up in our community and whether or not we feel heard, appreciated and accepted. Who makes us feel most appreciated and loved? Are we spending time in our day able to share or connect with those who support us and vice versa? What would it look like if we were supported and felt safe enough to voice everything? Even if it’s in a journal? These are some questions I ask myself.

Creating focus around what we need and who we want to be with is more constructive than what isn’t working. We can all see what’s not working for us. But the grace is in focusing on what we can do to support ourselves in a healthier way.

Our mental health plays a huge role in our bodies ability to function. It is best to get support earlier than later too. I have many times in my life had therapy and have had great results with implementing new strategies into my toolkit. 

Here are some quick tips and ideas for releasing emotions

  • Singing along with your favorite songs
  • Dancing also is a great way to get your qi moving and physically move your blood thus your qi will follow.
  • Setting aside time to write, journal, or meditate and release stuck thoughts into a safe space without consequences of sharing your feelings with others.
  • Lighting a candle and saying a prayer or blessing and letting things go.
  • Going for a drive and listening to loud music-a different twist on the first one. But a totally easy one to do during the pandemic!
  • Get out in nature and walk and allow your thoughts to flow.
  • Have a heart to heart with a loved one who is supportive.

What works for you?

Are you ready to be heard and understand that being emotionally healthy means that your emotions are your own and should be heard and respected?

Share what works for you. I would love to hear from you!


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