The 5 ways suppressed and unresolved emotions can be harmful.
As a child, when you were happy what did you do? Jump and clap your hands?
How about when you were upset, did you throw a tantrum?
Wasn’t it so easy to feel, express and resolve your emotions then? Until of course, someone told you to stop it and you learned not to show your emotions.
I remember as a child being told: “Big girls don’t cry”. As a result, I did not cry for over 25 years and bottled everything up.
Crying is just an expression of an emotion. It is not good or bad. It is just an expression. It is a process of letting the sadness, hurt, joy, love and immense gratitude out.
If you vomited would you swallow back your vomit? And yet as adults, we are sometimes conditioned not to show or even feel our emotions.
While it is correct that throwing a tantrum in the office would not be accepted or even be considered an ideal working situation, yet it is important to have a means of letting out and expressing emotions in a safe way.
Not just the negative emotions like anger and sadness. Even, the uplifting emotions like joy and excitement.
Instead in some cultures, we are taught to dumb things down and dilute expression of emotions, which is after all only a natural process.
Shockingly, suppressed emotions can increase the risk of cancer by 70% and heart disease by 47% (1).
Feeling, accepting and expressing emotions are natural and necessary for good health.
There are many emotions such as love, happiness, elation, sadness, anger, fears and much more, that we may encounter multiple times, during the course of our daily lives.
Sometimes feeling negative emotions such as anger or fear, can be a little overwhelming and hence we may choose to block them out or even avoid these.
Think again though, as there is a body evidence now to show that expressing one’s emotions might actually be good for health.
Here are the 5 ways that suppressed and unexpressed emotions can be harmful:
1. Unexpressed anger is known to be linked to cancer
Anger is perhaps one of the most intense emotions and can bring in a lot of irritation, animosity, aggressiveness or even hostilities. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found premature deaths from either heart disease or cancer were linked to bottled up anger (1).
Suppressed anger increases stress hormone cortisol levels, which directly suppresses the immune system function of our bodies. Studies have also shown that when the immune system is not working properly, normal cells mutate to abnormal cancer cells (2).
To get started and release any pent-up or even anger that is ready to burst you can use the Tantrum Tapping Technique below (3).
2. Stress is linked to 85% of illnesses and once resolved can aid healing
Stress is different emotions bundled up together. Emotions like anxiety, worry, fear, panic and overwhelm.
Simply put, in the dictionary stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
According to the American Medical Association, 85% of known illnesses are stress related (4).
When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack. The body automatically switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, thus releasing adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to prepare the body to be able to take physical action. This means blood is diverted towards the muscles and away from bodily functions like digestion.
There is no harm in temporary stress. However, when stress becomes prolonged over time and cortisol remains elevated it can be detrimental to health. For example, increasing sugar levels as well as raising blood pressure.
Elevated cortisol makes it harder to lose weight, even when on a regimented diet and exercises plan and can even be responsible for weight gain.
With EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) the symptoms of stress can be reversed.
Clinical studies have shown that EFT not only reduces cortisol levels (4), it also reduces the symptoms of extreme stress following trauma, known as PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), (5).
Sejal Mehta, Trainer, and Therapist was able to become more empathetic using EFT and overcame a physical issue that caused swelling and pain.
Here is what she had to say “The last 2 days of attending EFT has brought huge physiological, temperamental and attitudinal changes in my life. I have become not only sympathetic but more empathetic. My edema and fibromyalgia (debilitating pain that can take years to treat) of 7-8 months has disappeared miraculously and after months I have slept so peacefully”
3. Holding onto un-forgiveness can lead to diabetes, pain and heart attack
Imagine you were popping a pill for a headache and the pill was so bitter, you bite into it
Doesn’t the bitterness spread throughout your mouth? Even sometimes contorting your face? And this is just a bitter pill.
How much more damage can bitterness or un-forgiveness cause our daily lives then?
What’s more, studies have shown that the act of forgiveness, could not only lessen the burden of stress from you, it also lessens the risk of a heart attack (6).
To be able to truly forgive, the past hurt or emotional pain has to be freely expressed and then forgiveness comes naturally.
What prevents forgiveness can be the inability to let go or even the resentment, anger and hurt that was caused by the situation.
Importantly with forgiveness, any inappropriate behaviors are not being forgiven. Forgiveness is directed towards ourselves as well as the goodness in the other person.
4. Anxiety can lead to panic attacks and even insomnia
Anxiety is a state of extreme worry or severe stress and suppressing this emotion can lead to depression, panic attacks and in severe cases even insomnia and heart attacks. (7)
When a panic attack happens, it could bring with it symptoms like sweating immensely, increased heart rate and even physical pain.
After only one hour of EFT, the symptoms of anxiety and its severity, as well as cortisol level, was shown to be reduced (4).
Shaliny Boulouk used EFT to relieve her symptoms of anxiety and panic which resulted in her being able to freely travel in the underground, which was not possible before.
5. Fear can stop you from living your passion!
Once fear takes a hold over you, it can cripple you from taking action.
Just Imagine your dream was to become a leader or someone in an upper management position in your organization, and it was a requirement for you to hold constant meetings and even speeches, however, you had a fear of speaking to a crowd or a gathering.
Pop! there goes your dream. Just because you let your fear take you over.
It does not allow you to move forward and take action to achieve your goals and dreams.
Once emotions take their hold over you it can feel overwhelming and suppressing them might seem like an easier option. Yet not allowing our emotions to be expressed can be detrimental to health.
So next time you are faced with your emotions, think again and find a way safe and supporting way to express and resolve them. Our personal favorite is EFT.
Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD)
- Don’t bottle up your emotions- It’ll knock years off your life and raise cancer risk by 70 percent – The daily mail UK, article by Pat Hagan
- Psycho-oncology – The link between cancer and unexpressed anger.
- Tantrum Tapping – Blog, How important is energy? 3 daily exercises to boost yours
- Generalized anxiety disorder – The Mayo clinic
- Cortisol and anxiety reference – The Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial Church, Dawson PhD*; Yount, Garret PhD†; Brooks, Audrey J. PhD‡ Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: October 2012 – Volume 200 – Issue 10 – p 891–896
- Psychological Trauma in Veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A Randomized Controlled Trial, authored by Church, Hawk, Brooks et. al. Published – Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, Apr, 2010
- Forgiveness – your health depends on it, John Hopkins Institute
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