Stop avoiding your emotions

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There are many reasons we avoid feeling our emotions and unintentionally build up our emotional load.

Sometimes we need to put emotions to one side for a time. My time in hospital was traumatic, and I partly shut down in order to get through. My body went into a freeze state.

It might also be that we’ve learnt to put other people’s need first, or that expressing emotions was seen as weak or made you a target when younger, so you learned to silence your own needs.

After a while, emotions can become scary. The idea of acknowledging what may have been very challenging experiences can be overwhelming. Why open that wound when we can just keep going the way we always have.

Avoiding our emotions is often a way to protect ourselves, to get us through challenging situations, and it’s kept us going in the past.

Many of the ways we avoid emotion aren’t bad in themselves. It’s positive to care about others, or to have a few drinks with friends. The issue is when those things result in us avoiding our emotions over the medium to long term, which puts our body in a state of chronic stress.

Our body processes emotions in a similar way to food. If we never digested our food, it wouldn’t just go away. It would stay inside us and start to clog up our system, eventually leading to collapse.

This is exactly what’s happened with chronic fatigue. Our body has been shouldering these emotional burdens and the resultant ongoing stress for a long time, without being able to digest them properly. Slowly but inevitably, our body was overwhelmed.

We can’t avoid our emotions forever, and it’s not healthy to do so.

To get out of our current state of chronic stress and get back to health, we need to learn to process our emotions.

When I started trying to rebalance my relationship with my emotions, I was terrified to open the box of emotion that I’d put to one side for so long. I felt like I was going to be washed away on a tidal wave, that I would totally lose control. Worse, I was scared I’d start endlessly wallowing in emotion, and become completely unable to function.

It turned out that the opposite was true.

By acknowledging and feeling my emotions, bit by bit, they were able to flow through me and then I was able to move on. Just like food, I was able to take on the nutrients and expel the waste.

In contrast, wallowing comes from not properly processing emotions, which linger around like undigested food.

We don’t need to process everything at once. It’s much better to break emotions into smaller, manageable pieces and digest them piece by piece. The stagnant pond that we’ve been unknowingly cultivating all these years becomes a clear stream.

Gradually we build up trust with our body, by listening to it, acknowledging the emotional loads that you are carrying, feeling them, and moving on.