If you keep avoiding your feelings, they might end up wreaking havoc in your psyche.
That one most crucial element which makes us who we are – humans – is our ability to experience and express a plethora of emotions. Can you imagine yourself without the ability to feel and respond to those feelings? You would rather not because sans emotions we lose a major part of our identity.
Life is beautiful solely because we are gifted with the superpower to feel. It indeed is a superpower! Without feelings, our life would be a plain canvas or one with monochromatic colours. But a coin is always double-sided.
Given a chance you can easily recall plenty of circumstances where you have wished you lacked emotions, cursed them and wondered why you could feel in the first place. We have all been there.
Emotions are signals to the body about ourselves and our surroundings – when we need to protect ourselves, when we need to prepare and when we need to let go. They give us feedback about our surroundings and whether or not it is safe for us to be in.
Once you shut your emotions off, you have potentially eliminated a powerful sense. Mostly this is how our story of destruction and damage begins. We do not harm ourselves by being vulnerable or feeling things, we do so when we try to sabotage the natural process of feeling.
What do we usually do when we feel overwhelmed with emotions?
Instead of letting the emotions flow, we do the worst by using all techniques at our disposal to ward off the feel; anything we can get hold of – avoidance, denial, ignorance or suppression to take control over our emotions. What we get oblivious of is that this only lead us to be psychologically more conflicted and devastated.
Alienating our emotions as a temporary solution only brings forth graver consequences in the future. As said by Sabaa Tahir in a A Torch Against the Night “Your emotions make you human. Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don’t lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.”
Here are 6 ways people avoid their feelings, which does more harm than not:
Have you ever faced with a situation so triggering that you simply choose to believe it never happened? Or that nothing is wrong and you are okay?
If you answer in affirmation, you have already been there. When we experience something uncomfortable, embarrassing or traumatizing we simply choose to deny it because denying seems easier than confronting the difficult feelings. But it’s necessary to know that denial helps but only in limited quantities and time span.
As O’Neil says,“In other words, the more entrenched you get in denial, the harder it can be to pull yourself from it.”
Denial keeps us away from reality and hence makes it harder to get access to our true internal world. So the faster you acknowledge your emotions, however unpleasant they are, the faster you get in touch with reality, the quicker you get over the painful emotion.
Withdrawal is when a person does not want to interact with or participate in activities with other people, even the ones they initially liked interacting with. It is a total cut off from human contact and is different from occasional withdrawal from socializing.
Some people withdraw because they feel overwhelmed around other people or when they fail to control their intimidating negative emotions like anger, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, frustrations etc which places them in a humiliating situation. Others might also withdraw from situations and people because they do not want to feel the negative emotions evoked by the stimuli.
Of Course, this is a maladaptive way to deal with conflicting and undesirable emotions because one cannot withdraw permanently for life just to avoid feeling negative emotions. Withdrawing also results in the person slipping into loneliness.
Avoidance is basically the first step to ultimately withdrawing. A person avoids as long as possible but withdraws when all other means to ward off the feelings goes in vain.
If you are at a party and someone is trying to flirt with you and you are not liking it. Maybe your first thought will be to avoid him/her. When we are faced with an unwanted situation, our primal instincts is to either face or avoid it, something we know as “fight or flight”. This makes avoidance a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from undesirable situations.