If you rely upon repression or denial to cope with intense feelings, you may have excluded those feelings from awareness and see yourself as a very calm, unflappable sort of person. Maybe you’re always on an “even keel” with no horrible lows but without any wonderful highs either. People who repress their feelings tend to repress the entire spectrum of emotions, not just one or two of them. If your life seems ‘flat’ or you’re often bored, repression may be at work. If your approach to life is highly logical, with little room for emotion, ask yourself where will your feelings have gone. Because emotion is the life-blood of all interpersonal relationships, you may find yourself isolated, feeling out of touch with the people you know, whether they are friends, colleagues or romantic partners.
I find this very interesting. I have always been an emotional person and I cry at the sign of John Lewis Christmas advert, but in truth, have hidden those true emotions and sadnesses which should have been shared and brought to the surface. Do you remember when the darling Prince Harry said a few years ago how suppressing the sadness he felt when his mum died affected him later in life when his hidden feelings burst ‘like a volcano’ and came flooding out of him? I think we could all relate to this.
Over the last four years, I have looked deeply into the depths of ‘me’ to find out what makes me tick and why I do and have done things in the past and now. It’s fascinating stuff, once you stir the pot, you suddenly realise that you’re not going mad and you’re not unique or unusual. You’re only human and all your emotions are normal reactions to events in your life. The newest knowledge I discovered is fascinating to me – it’s that with our ‘ordinary’ human needs we long for contact with others, we crave physical closeness and intimacy, we wish for friends and desire sex. When we get what we need we may feel happy and gratified, but when we don’t, it might make us feel sad, lonely or frustrated. And if we’re unbearably frustrated, it might stir up anger, resentment or even hatred. Developing a sense of personal worth involves feelings of pride, a sense of integrity and well-being that leads to contentment with oneself and one’s world. Strong self-esteem also links to happiness and fulfilment. The alternative, ‘shame’, is one of the most deeply painful feelings.