Most people go through life believing we are one body, the physical body when in fact we are three bodies in one. We have a physical, emotional, and spiritual body and when we do not embrace all three of these bodies, we become ill either physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
It seems the one body most people struggle with is the emotional body. Some of us were taught as children that emotions were not good, they were something you got punished for. I grew up in a house where if you were crying over something my mother would yell and tell you that if you didn’t stop, she would give you something to cry for.
Growing up this way caused me to suppress my emotions and detach from them because I believed it was bad and wrong to show how I was feeling. I became numb and turned to food for comfort, which has caused obesity and a daily struggle with my relationship with food. I didn’t realize that I substituted food for emotions so whenever I felt happy, sad, bored, frustrated, or whatever the emotion I ate.
As I grew older and still detached from my emotions, I was very unempathetic towards people. I didn’t feel their pain or sadness like I do today. In fact, nothing made me angrier than people asking me how I was feeling or how I felt about something. It made me angry because I had no patience for emotions and did not see a need for them and believed only weak people felt emotions or they used their feelings as excuses for their behaviors.
It wasn’t until I met an amazing woman who took me under her wing so to speak that I began opening up to my emotions and allowing myself to feel them. She never asked me how or what I was feeling, instead she would ask me where in your body do you feel it? Now that I could answer. But by doing that it also showed me just how much emotions were connected to my physical symptoms i.e., stomach pain, headaches/migraines, tight chest, etc. etc. This began my emotional and spiritual healing.
So, here is what happens when you don't allow yourself to fully feel your emotions.
1. Mental exhaustion.
Suppressing an emotion can involve suppressing the memory of something that has made you uncomfortable. However, you cannot forget a memory on purpose, so to avoid thinking about something you do not want to remember, your mind will work overtime.
2. Stomach problems.
According to research from Harvard Medical School, the stress that comes from unacknowledged emotions can lead to slow digestion, gas, bloating, vomiting, and ulcers.
3. Headaches and migraines.
In response to emotional stress, the muscles in your forehead and brow tighten, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain resulting in headaches.
4. Stronger negative emotions.
When you don't acknowledge your feelings, you are allowing these emotions to become stronger, according to a study from the University of Texas. Emotional outbursts are "your body's way of releasing that pent-up emotion," says clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt.
5. Weight gain.
Sometimes we use eating to make us feel better during times of stress. If you aren't properly expressing how you feel, you will find yourself in a state of stress that doesn't go away. Food can be a temporary band aid for a real problem, and when we eat too much, weight gain is very likely.
6. Difficulty experiencing the positive things in life.
When you try to experience less sadness and anger, you are limiting the range of emotions you can experience. This includes positive feelings like joy and happiness. You can't have the positive without riding out the negative.
7. Increased cancer risk.
In 2013, one study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester reported that those who bottled up their emotions increased their risk of being diagnosed with cancer by 70 percent. That's a great reason alone to start feeling and showing your emotions.
8. Shorter lifespan.
The same Harvard School of Public Health study also showed that emotional suppression "increases the chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30 percent."
No one likes to feel negative feelings like humiliation, sadness, or anger. But ignoring and avoiding how you feel can make things worse. Once you stop putting off dealing with or acknowledging how you truly feel, you will find yourself living a less stressful and healthier life. Plus, the more comfortable you become with your emotions the more comfortable you will be with other people’s emotions, you won’t feel as if you have to “fix” others, so they feel better. Sometimes healing means just sitting in the emotion and allow it to flow.
Remember emotions gives us empathy not only for ourselves but for others. So, how are YOU feeling today?