When we say no to the experience of our feelings, we're saying yes to a lifetime of misery.
We all know that suppressing feelings isn't the smartest thing to do. But those who eat junk food all day know that isn't smart, yet they still do it.
It's easy to say that suppressing feelings is bad, so why do we do it? What happens when we do it? And what should we do instead?
Why do we suppress feelings?
The short answer is, we suppress uncomfortable feelings to avoid temporary pain. As feelings come up, if they don't feel good, naturally we don't want to experience them. This makes sense.
Just like when the original experience happened and it was uncomfortable - say, when we got yelled at by our first grade teacher - the replay of it in our minds is just as, and oftentimes more uncomfortable, even if it's twenty years later.
When these experiences keep showing up in our minds, the only way we know how to not feel them is to push them away with our willpower. The problem is, we don't consider the consequences of this avoidance strategy.
Just like seeking pleasure in the moment while sacrificing long-term benefits, when we suppress feelings, we're seeking short term avoidance of pain while inevitably creating long-term suffering.
Knowing this doesn't make it any easier to forgo short term pleasure, but we must first be aware of this pattern if we are to change it.
When we suppress or repress a feeling, where does it go?
To understand the nature of suppressed feelings, we first must understand where they go.
When we push an uncomfortable feeling away from us because we don't want to feel it, it has to go somewhere, right? It doesn't just disappear. If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, we know the pain always comes back.
When things happen to us, they carry a certain energetic vibration. Our reaction to the outside world also carries a vibration. Sometimes, that vibration is uncomfortable. Say, a heartbreak. Due to how much it can hurt to have your heart broken, rather than simply letting it happen and being willing to experience the temporary discomfort, we resist it with our willpower.
Well, when we resist a feeling by suppressing or repressing it (or even expressing it, which means giving into its energy), we give it no room to escape. We shove it back down, only for it to come up later in time.
Now that energy pattern is stored within. It's always trying to come back up and escape, but you won't let it because it hurts. The truth is, it was uncomfortable when you stored it, so of course it's going to be uncomfortable when it comes back up. That's all it's trying to do - pass through.
What should we do instead of suppressing?
We now know that since we suppressed our feelings in the first place, their energetic vibrations got stuck inside of us, and now they're trying to come up.
All we have to do is relax as they come up. Be okay with temporarily experiencing pain. The vibrations want to escape. They want to be released. It's just that we don't let them come up. At the first sign of them coming up, we push them back down because we don't want to experience them.
You were fine before they showed up, and you'll be fine after. Trust this knowing. Trust the ephemeral nature of the vibrations, and the permanent nature of you, the watcher.
It's normal, and expected, that the thoughts and feelings you associated with a traumatic event will be uncomfortable, even decades later. The vibrations you stored during the event never got the chance to pass through you, so they got stuck inside. Let them out. No matter how many times it takes, don't resist them.
They are literally what's preventing us from experiencing joy in the present moment.
Live with substance!