Emotional repression is rampant in our society. Think about it: What scenarios is is “ok” to have a big emotional experience? In a therapist’s office behind closed doors. Maybe with your best friend or a family member if you’re lucky. Maybe with your intimate partner. But still, in my experience I have often been “shushed” and “fixed” in these scenarios so that I feel “better.”
As a result, a pattern asserted itself within me that I need to “shush” and “fix” myself to feel “better.” Now I didn’t even need another person to tell me! I would shush and fix myself.
There is no “better.” Emotion is just emotion. It passes over us and it moves along. However as a society, we have managed to forget that fact, and to only be accepting of certain emotions, or of what I call “the constant 3.” The constant 3 is balanced with very few highs and very few lows. It is a muted self expression.
I started working with emotional repression because I entered the world of authentic relating. I didn’t think that I was repressing emotions because I am a “crier” and a pretty emotional person.After shushing and fixing myself for years and years, repressed emotion started to build up within. I would cry at a commercial with a dog or a grandma in it.
Through this work, I was able to access more of my internal, emotional, and somatic experience.
The constant 3 of emotional repression
I realized how much I was holding back, holding in. Even happy feelings. I was trying to be a constant 3, and I discovered that it was sucking a lot of my life force and energy to constantly control my emotions and appear “pulled together.”
Emotional repression is repressing our whole and complete human experience. We often tend to do this more when we are experiencing those emotions that we label as “negative.”
However, being emotionally expressed can help us express more in the areas where we want to shine and be our full expression of ourselves.
For me, the question became, Am I welcoming myself? Am I welcoming my experience?
The answer was no. Especially in times of sadness, crying, and anger, I was not welcoming of myself because those are “negative” emotions in our society. In contrast, if I were supporting someone having a big emotional experience, I would be witnessing, comforting, and welcoming their experience.
Now when I feel like crying, I shut my eyes and I let myself cry instead of trying to hold back the tears. Instead of trying to pretend I’m not angry or trying to calm myself down, I reveal that I feel angry and pissed off to my partner. Now I welcome myself.
I invite you to ask yourself, Am I welcoming myself and my experience?
In service of ancestral and descendant healing
It’s important for us to be part of communities where we can explore these questions together in a safe place. That’s because it’s something that’s deeply embedded in our society and in our DNA. By expressing our emotions, we are changing the patterns in our DNA and we are making it ok to have an emotional human experience in service of future generations. It’s a form of ancestral healing.