Emotional Avoidance: What Can Happen When We Avoid Our Emotions?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014


No matter how old or young someone is, where they have come from on this planet or if they are male or female, one thing is clear, and that is that they will have emotions. For this is part of the human experience, without them life wouldn't be the same.
However, one of the challenges with emotions is that they are not always pleasant. And while it is possible to feel emotionally whole and centred, it is also possible to feel emotionally empty and decentre.
They are also not physical things that one can touch or remove through force. So the masculine approach of using physical force is unlikely to work. And as the modern day world is very masculine and left brain in how it functions, emotions have become a problem in most cases.
The more feminine way of being, such as letting go and allowing, are often seen as strange descriptions in today's world. Action, force and making things happen are descriptions that are generally more familiar to people.
The Ego
So as the egos way of functioning is the norm, what could be classed as the hearts way, has been rejected in the majority of cases. The ego does, the heart just is, and so they each have their own benefits; with one being masculine and the other feminine.
It is easy to relate to the ego and yet it is often not as easy to relate to the hearts way of being. And this is one of the main challenges when it comes to experiencing emotional health.
The Tendency
When unpleasant emotions appear, the tendency is to try and remove them or to deny that they exist. Whereas what they really need is to be dealt with in a more feminine way; which involves acknowledgement and acceptance.
If they are too intense, the mind will get involved and sabotage this process from taking place. And as a result of this, the emotions are not dealt with in a healthy way. One of many things can occur as a result of this, but no matter what option is selected; one is ultimately avoiding their emotions
The Options
There are numerous options here and these can include ways that are well known and easily seen, to others that are often over looked and more subtle. It is not going to be much of a surprise to hear that: alcohol, drugs, food, exercise or sex can be used. These are common choices and ones that are routinely given exposure in the media for instance.
However, it is just as easy to avoid them through ways that are less obvious. Here, one can: compare themselves with others; laugh off how they feel; rationalize their feelings away; tell themselves that they need to grow up and even say that they are stronger than their emotions.
The Relationship
Emotions are then perceived as annoying or unpleasant things that need to be denied at all costs. They are then not part of who one is, but separate and disconnected occurrences. And if one lives primarily in their head, then this is not much of a surprise. The body is then something that is separate from the mind.
What is clear is that if one is avoiding their emotions and therefore avoiding their body, then a harmonious relationship doesn't exist. And how one relates to their emotions is often a result of how their emotions were responded to during their childhood years.
How ones caregivers dealt with their own emotions and how they responded to ones emotions as a child, will often define how one perceives emotions. And then there could have been certain moments where one experienced trauma as a child and as an adult. If one didn't feel safe or comfortable in expressing their emotions during these moments, then this trauma may not have been processed and could have remained in the body.
Years Of Avoidance
So not only is avoidance something that is taking place as an adult, it may have taken place for ones whole life. And this is one reason why emotions can become so overwhelming and intense. They have built up for so many years, that they have become too much to handle.
So the mind can no longer keep them hidden and like volcano that keeps erupting; they will come out in one way or another.
And there are a myriad of ways in which emotions can appear after years or months of avoidance or regression. Some of these ways will be more unpleasant than others and will be recognised by society; while others will not be recognised by the mainstream society.
Addictions, obsessions and emotional problems, such as depression and heightened anxiety, are commonly cited as being the result of not dealing with ones emotions.
This can also lead to one being attracted to and attracting unhealthy relationships. Ones sense of self and their personal power can also be diminished. A loss of energy can be another consequence. Behaving in ways that that one has no control over, often described as reactive behaviour, is another sign.
Intimacy can also be something that is hard to experience; with one forming walls as a way to protect themselves from the emotional pain that may be triggered if they too close to anyone. These are just a few examples of how influential emotions are and there are many more. Physical dis-ease can also appear through emotional repression.
If one has emotions that have built up, then assistance may be required; as one could be overwhelmed by them if they try to do it themselves. And so a therapist or healer that allows one to face their emotions and release them will be essential.

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