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We All Hide Our Feelings Until We Can't

Jun 9, 2008
If you ever got picked last for softball, soccer or any other team sport you did your best to conceal your hurt and disappointment. Sometimes your best wasn't very convincing, but it was still your best at the time. If getting picked last happened a few times you probably started making judgments about yourself and your abilities or you made judgments about the people doing the choosing.

If you began to expect it to happen you decided you didn't like team sports. Heck, you even concluded you'd much rather spend your time doing something else, something those other kids couldn't do. Either way, the pain was still hidden.

Today's disappointments might look more like this.

You have a flat tire making you late for an appointment. The client is visibly upset regardless of your apology and explanation. You take it in stride knowing you did your best and some things are simply beyond your control.

The order that was surely meant to be yours, after all the work you did, is given to a competitor. You're upset for a minute, but hey, tomorrow's another day.

Your boss announces that sales quotas are increasing by 10%, effective immediately. You think out loud, 'Whadda you gotta do to catch a break?'

Your spouse calls and asks you to stop and pick up Chinese for dinner, it's been a tough day, no time to cook. You hang up mumbling, 'Why the hell do I have to do everything?'

You sit down to dinner with your family and your four-year-old accidentally knocks over her glass of milk and you explode, yelling at the top of your voice as you banish her to her room for a time out.

The Proverbial Straw

We all recognize this pattern. One thing after another happens to or around us, but it's not okay to share how we really feel about them.

Besides, isn't it better to brush aside our frustrations and disappointments? Otherwise we could find a million things to be upset about, couldn't we?

I'm sure we could, but here's the question: Do we really brush them aside or do we bury them until there is no more space in the grave we have created for them and they burst forth like some kind of B movie zombie attacking some unsuspecting and usually innocent victim who is a weak, easy and safe target?

Regardless of how good we think we are about managing our painful or uncomfortable feelings, eventually they ooze out and sometimes explode. This seepage and its more volatile kin, shrapnel, is usually directed to where we feel we have the most security or the most power. For too many of us, that means family and friends.

We stuff all the feelings we cannot deal with outside our safety zone and bring them home to our unaware and unsuspecting fans not knowing when or where they will emerge.

Why Do We Hide Our Feelings?

We hide our feelings because we perceive that it's not safe to express them. We dismiss, minimize and deny them to protect ourselves.

We want to make sure we're not viewed in an unflattering, negative or potentially harmful way. The 'what will they think of me?' question arises to ensure that we behave according to what we think they think and consequently expect.

Any time we feel threatened we default to primal instinct, the drive to survive, which tells us prepare to fight or flee. In this case the perceived danger is in showing our emotions. If we do, we might get hurt.

So, we fight them in all the ways we have to manage them; we can suppress, negate, control, deny, minimize, etc. Managing our emotional state is not only beneficial but can also be essential at times. Somehow it doesn't seem smart to unleash your anger on your best client or your employer.

We flee from our emotions through any form of distraction we can conjure; we can eat, smoke, drink, watch TV, sleep, etc. We can use healthy forms of distraction as well. There's exercise, creating things, learning and lots of hobbies that are good for the body, mind, spirit or all three.

A New Paradigm

Surely, there is benefit to hiding and burying our feelings, and there are clearly times when it's in our best interest to do so. But there is risk too.

Suppressing any painful feelings for too long can lead to destructive behavior patterns and/or illness. What if every single feeling/emotion we have, including the unpleasant or painful, is meant to serve us in some positive way and if we figured out how, the discomfort could go as quickly as it came?

The good news is we have an internal sensory system, a 7th Sense, with access to the entire range of human emotion, which is designed with one goal in mind, to ensure our survival and growth. The intention of our so-called negative feelings is to protect, warn, motivate, drive and even inspire.

When we are able to recognize the true intention behind any of our feelings we can accept their lesson or guidance and release them without having to hide or bury them any longer. This means constructive action instead of explosive destructive behavior. We don't have to let things pile up until the 'last straw' crushes us under its weight.
About the Author
Debbie Battersby, speaker & success coach, has helped thousands of people transform their lives. She's an elite Master Trainer with world renowned peak performance expert Tony Robbins' leadership programs. Her unique program, "Using Your 7th Sense" gives you the power to grab more potential and ascend to new heights in your own life.

Order her FREE e-book: "7 Steps to Turn Goal Setting Into Goal Getting"
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