“Internalizing Feelings Can Cause Health Problems”


Often people are either not in touch with conflictual feelings or if they are in touch with them, they push them down.   Life is full of trails and tribulations. They can originate from a residue of pressures from family of origin, past and/or present relationships gone bad, fears of being judged less favorably by others and poor expectations of what life may have in store for them. These and many other examples, can all evoke combinations of emotions, that people view as inappropriate or deny from consciousness.

In actuality, feelings are amoral, being neither good nor bad. The importance lies in how the feelings are dealt with.  Feelings such as anger, fear, hurt, resentment and frustration are often looked upon negatively and as a result, are suppressed at all cost.  Unfortunately, the end cost is high in physical and emotional ill health. For these people, the connection between not getting in touch with these feelings and ill health is never made. Instead, they avoid such feelings by such means as misusing alcohol and drugs or manifesting some other dysfunctional behavior.

Regardless of the defense mechanism used to suppress these unwanted feelings, the results can result in paralyzing distress. This distress can be linked to behavioral health problems, such as anxiety, depression and chronic worrying and also to physical problems such as heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbances and fatigue.

Not being aware or denying such feelings results in enslaving people. However, making concerted efforts to be aware and acknowledging the existence of such feelings can be an important first step.  With years of prior conditioning, this is easier said than done. People have many layers of feelings at the same time.  There are the surface feelings and feelings on a deeper level that are often unrecognized and need to be dealt with

In order to proceed appropriately, people need to learn that uncomfortable emotions do not define who they are.  The uncomfortable emotions are merely automatic responses of the brain to perceived dangers. By first being aware of these emotions, it paves the way to recognizing that they are merely feelings triggered by the unconscious part of our brains. . Recognize that fear of getting in touch with those feelings gives power to a “paper tiger”.

After being aware and acknowledging those uncomfortable feelings, people need to push through their fears and examine where those feelings come from. By  truly getting in touch with these feelings, they are provided the opportunity to discover their origin and begin the healing process. If attempts at healing are not accomplished, they will result in dysfunctional beliefs about oneself and others.

Getting in touch with underlying feelings does not mean ruminating about them. While you’re going through this healing process, get involved in life, regardless of the resistance to do so. Push yourself to do an activity that would get you into something that can result in enjoyment.

Feel it, don’t think it. When we spoke earlier about acknowledging and examining those uncomfortable feelings, it goes beyond the cerebral but is more experiential. Staying with the feelings without judging them, will help living in the present and not being resentful of the past or cynical about some unknown future..

In moving toward accepting the existence of suppressed feelings, the negative impact from holding onto them will slowly dissipate. Know that getting in touch with the feelings have no real power over you. It’s negative perceptions that can make or break the person. Remember, to be truly free, one must take the risk of challenging old, outmoded ways of thinking. If need be, seeking the services of a professional counselor can  strengthen the chance of freeing oneself from the shackles of self doubt and pain.

Readers are invited to write, anonymously if they wish, about ways they are successful or unsuccessful, in harnessing gratitude in their lives. Readers can forward their thoughts and feelings by e-mailing me at lifesourcecenter@aol.com or mailing me at lifesourcecenter, 710 Main Street, Plantsville Connecticut, 06479.