April 12, 2021

The Negative Effects of Emotional Suppression


This archived article was written by: Brittney Leigh Banning, Guest Contributor

-Editors Note-
The Eagle Online is always looking to improve it’s diverse and exceptional content. We are proud to bring our readers fresh, innovating and daring posts in a new series of articles from talented guest writers with ties to Eastern Utah. For the first, I am overjoyed to present a piece from an old personal friend of mine whose world travels and compassionate insights inspire both those near her and those who frequent her blog. Enjoy. -Nathaniel Woodward, Managing Editor

Ask yourself these questions:

Are you happy with your life overall?
Do you enjoy your job?
Are you happy with your weight and body image?
What emotion is most prominent to you right now?
Have you ever had physical symptoms you couldn’t really explain?
How is your self-talk? Are you kind, or are you hard on yourself?
You absolutely cannot run away from pain.

“What’s wrong?” Is the question we are asked if something seems off. We live in a society that believes we need to be happy all the time, and try to “think positive” or just “choose happiness,” social media is very idealistic in our world, more often showing the happy sides of people’s lives, making us feel we need to stay at a certain standard of happiness.

It’s not that we need to accept misery and stay in that place, but we need to accept the root causes and accept fluctuating emotional states as something that OK and normal.

The problems come when we try to suppress emotions. Our mind goes to anxiety, addiction, bad habits, depression, physical manifestations in the body, and more. We try to take medication to cover up the root problems, or resort to addiction to try to avoid facing the root problems.

You must acknowledge it, accept it, learn from it, find positive coping mechanisms, or it manifests itself in various way.

Weight gain and holding onto it is a pattern I’ve seen in myself. It happens when I feel the most detached from myself.

Recently in a situation where someone made me feel like it was completely wrong of me to have the emotions I did, caring, etc, and it threw me into very negative patterns, I blamed OCD and other “problems” I’ve never had, because I couldn’t just admit that I was having an emotional response. I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t just get over it, I didn’t realize I was just having a hard time emotionally.

Other times I’ve had issues with weight gain and other physical problems in the body:
In the beginning of my semester at BYU-Hawaii
In the beginning of my semester at BYU-Hawaii

At BYU-Hawaii I struggled with weight gain, panic attacks, dizziness, nausea, headaches (I found out later on that this was from clenching my teeth at night), stomach issues, and I ended up failing one of my classes and getting poor grades in the rest, because I couldn’t admit to myself that I wasn’t in the right place for me, that I didn’t agree with my Book of Mormon class, that I never stood up and asked deeper questions, and I didn’t acknowledge that this strict religious school did not align with what I truly believed. There’s absolutely no way I could forced this upon myself. I do not have a problem with anyone choosing what they want to believe with religion, but my brain found too many logical fallacies and just wouldn’t allow me to be a part of it.
While attending the University of Utah after my BYU-H experience. Pretty chubby!
While attending the University of Utah after my BYU-H experience. Pretty chubby!

I struggled with weight issues at the University of Utah, because I was highly stressed out. I was putting myself through, was broke, taking as many classes as I could, and was still a mess after my semester at BYU-Hawaii.
Probably one of the worst pictures of me ever, but reflecting a lack of self-awareness and emotional connection with myself.
Probably one of the worst pictures of me ever, but reflecting a lack of self-awareness and emotional connection with myself.

In Taiwan I struggled, because where I lived was overwhelmingly urban and didn’t fit the lifestyle I enjoy. I also struggled with cultural adjustment, and couldn’t admit these things to myself as having an emotional root.

After Taiwan, I moved to Lake Tahoe where I could live a lifestyle that I enjoyed, snowboarding and being outdoors. I stopped cutting my hair, stopping dying it different colors, starting seeking jobs I enjoy more, moved to San Diego where I started to get into yoga and meditation, and in all that time I dropped about 20 pounds without weighing myself or going on a diet, I just started to care for myself, integrate mindfulness into my life, be more kind to myself, spend a lot of time outside, and without trying it reflected my outer self.
Living in Hawaii about 2 years ago.
Living in Hawaii about 2 years ago.

Coming back to this mental state I’ve been in recently, I stopped meditating for a long time, began over-thinking, and most of all, suppressing my emotions; again gaining some weight and blaming or trying to find a mental disease or outside problem.

I have developed a histamine intolerance that I’ve had for years and only recently figured out, which after looking up the symptoms I’m sure didn’t help, but how much is linked, and which one has caused which more? Did the histamine intolerance cause me weight fluctuations and anxiety and stress, or did the anxiety and stress cause the histamine intolerance? There is a lot of researching linking stress to all kinds of chronic diseases, maybe not the cause, but at least I’m sure it doesn’t help.

It’s taken me forever to realize the need to acknowledge emotions and address the root cause of them, and how to deal with them.

With my most recent situation probably all I needed to do, instead of turning crazy and thinking I had OCD or an attachment disorder, was to cry. A lot. And watch sad movies. And cry more. And take some time to not be distracted, but to sit and let those emotions in. And write in my journal, not to the world. To draw, to listen to music that reflected my mood. Instead I tried to distract myself by staying extremely busy and active, applying to about a dozen different jobs and interviewing for most of them, trying to plan out my future and map out a very full schedule, getting on dating apps to quickly “move on” because “obviously” there was something wrong with me for feeling sad after such a short amount of time, and continually overanalyzing why I was acting weird, and overanalyzing every single aspect of my life to avoid sitting silently with my emotions or acknowledging that I did, in fact, have low self-esteem and have probably had this for a long time, but didn’t want to admit it.

Finally just acknowledging everything and letting it go, I’m feeling renewed, positive, peaceful, and loving toward myself, rather than hating myself. I’m not at my ideal weight, but just have to accept myself as I am right now, know that I need to find exercise I enjoy, and want to be better because I love myself. Not berate myself because I hate myself and need to change. Nobody will ever get anywhere thinking that way, and it’s taken me a long time to realize this in myself.

I’m writing this, because I hope others can realize it as well. Emotional suppression is definitely not the way to go in this life, because trying to push things aside for too long will not just cause cracks in the surface or your emotional life, but an earthquake/eruption/brutal storm of problems.

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