Find your expression

Although many of us know that emotions are not bad, I feel that we are not comfortable with all of them.

Are you comfortable in experiencing the whole range of your emotional spectrum? Emotions like shame, happiness, sorrow and anger? Is it easy for you to express all the emotions? Although many of us know that emotions are not bad, I feel that we are not comfortable with all of them. During my study I have often heard that emotions are not dangerous. That one should be open for all emotions. Still I have lately discovered that I am not comfortable with all emotions. I think it’s a rare case to find someone who is comfortable with all emotions. Why is this the case and how can we solve this?

There could be several reasons. One reason can be that all emotions were not accepted in your family or the society you lived in during your childhood. Let me take anger as an example. When a child is angry, I think that often the instinct is to tell the child to calm down. In a way, we are asking the child to suppress this feeling. When someone in our peer group is angry with us, we often become defensive or start attacking the other person. In both examples mentioned here, we are not acknowledging the anger of the other person, and because of that we are communicating that “anger is a bad thing.” If we are continuously faced with this reaction from our surroundings, it will not be a big surprise that we get a complicated relation with anger later in life.

Don’t take me wrong and start to blame your parents or surroundings. This is actually absolutely normal. Parents raise their children with a good intention – they raise their children in the way they believe is the best for them. In fact often the way they raise their children has a reason. Our grandparents raised our parents in a specific way, and that becomes the natural instinct of our parents. This doesn’t necessarily imply that if our parents have made some mistakes, we will make those same mistakes too. If we are conscious of what “mistakes” our parents did (with a good intention), we can change our instinctual way of dealing with our own children and make sure not to make the same mistakes again.

Another reason for not being comfortable with all emotions could be that you have experienced negative consequences whenever you have expressed your emotion or that you have seen the negative consequences when others have expressed their emotions. A child who see that his or her parents are angry and see that they yell at each other, will go with a feeling that “anger is dangerous”. Therefore in adulthood you will avoid or suppress the feeling because you fear that you will end up hurting anyone.

I talked with my yoga teacher that I had difficulty to express anger in a right way. I felt that whenever you are angry, you end up hurting someone around you and afterwards you feel bad. He asked if in the moment of anger I felt good or bad. I told him that I felt good, because I got to express the things in my heart. If we don’t express it, but suppress it, our emotion will come out in some other way. It will either build itself up and blast and end up hurting people around us even more, or it can manifest in our body as a type of stress which can end up in stress related diseases like cancer. Haven’t you experienced that you are irritated because of a colleague and instead of expressing it to him/her, you end up answering a family member in a rudely manner because you have suppressed your anger for a long time? No matter how much we suppress the emotion, it will come out in some way.

Okay okay. All emotions are important, and we need to express it. However we still have the problem that we might end up hurting someone around us by expressing it. How to avoid that? Where is the problem here?

The problem is the way we choose to express our emotions. Yes, I am writing the way we choose to express our emotions. It’s always a choice, independent of if we are making the choice consciously or unconsciously. We choose to raise our voice, insulting and attacking the other person. We can also choose to take a paper and fill the paper with our emotions. After one of the yoga classes I attended, I felt that I was overwhelmed with some uncomfortable emotions and didn’t know what to do with these emotions. I chose to do something different than I usually do. I went home, took a paper and some colours to find a new way to express my emotions. Without thinking, I started filling the paper with colours while I was experiencing the uncomfortable emotions. When I felt calm, I stopped and looked at the paper. The emotion was completely processed. I could let the emotion go and move on in that moment.

So the clue is to find a healthy way to express your emotions. A way that works for you. It could be painting out your emotions on a paper, boxing, running or writing. You choose how to express your emotions. Your anger can destroy someone, your sorrow can destroy you. Your anger or sorrow can also be used to create something. Take out some minutes of your time and write down which emotions you are uncomfortable with and express in an unhealthy way. Then start trying different methods and find what works for you.

Harveen Kaur

Harveen Kaur

I am a psychologist and I am in love with the work, both developing myself and serving my clients

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