When was the last time someone asked how you were doing and you found yourself quickly replying, “I’m fine, thanks for asking”, but underneath that forced smile was someone who was far from fine? You were actually bubbling inside with negative emotions.
Why do we do that anyway?
Unfortunately, I think our culture has ingrained in us to believe that emotions equate weakness, so when they inevitably rise to the surface, we do our best to deny, minimize, distract, and numb. Over time, this can take a toll on our bodies, relationships, finances, and even our levels of achievement.
Now let’s take a look at 7 reasons why we don’t want to ignore these negative emotions.
1. We Cannot Selectively Numb Emotion
According to Brene Brown in Daring Greatly, any time that we numb the darkness, we inevitably also numb the light. If you are unwilling to feel the extent of your hurts, you then sabotage your ability to feel the full extent of joy. It’s not an either/or situation; both sides of the pendulum exist in life. The more you deny that, the more the middle becomes your reality. For example:
- Nothing brings too much excitement.
- Your interests and passions wane.
- You turn on the cruise control and begin to just exist.
- This is far from what we desire out of life. You can do better. You deserve better…as does everyone else around you.
2. Negative Emotions will Eventually Begin to Seep Out
Regardless of how good you think you have become at pushing your negative emotions down, there are cracks that are continuously seeping. For example:
- Ordinary traffic annoyances become a full-on episode of road rage.
- Your child accidentally spills milk all over the floor. Your temper quickly flares and you begin yelling.
- Your spouse reminds you of a task that needs to be completed, and you automatically go off on them.
- A co-worker falls short of your expectations and you send a lengthy and verbose email about how incompetent and disappointing they are to the whole team.
What these examples show is that when you try to keep your negative emotions pushed aside, they burst out in other areas of your life. Your reactions elicit much greater intensity than what the situation normally calls for.
I like to view it in terms of scale. If you are reacting at a 9, when you should be at a 3, your emotions are operating out of the overflow. The negative will continue to seep out until you fully acknowledge and process them.
3. Your Physical Health will Deteriorate
We’ve all heard about the studies that talk about how stress and negativity affect our physical health. However, we don’t typically do anything about it until it becomes true in our own lives.
We ignore high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and muscle tension and shrug it off as the fast pace of life. While this is true to some degree, there is also a large component of our physical health that is linked to the well-being of our mental health.
It is essential to take time for self-care. Set an appointment with your local counselor. Meet a good friend for coffee. Schedule a massage. Go for a walk outside.
The more you sprint and ignore what’s going on on the inside, the more your body will reap the consequences.
4. Your Relationships will Weaken
We tend to take out our negative feelings on those that are closest to us. So regardless of whether you have acknowledged your emotions or not, the people who care about you notice and are suffering.
It could be your silence. Perhaps it’s your disengagement. Or it could be that seeping through the cracks I mentioned earlier, which has made it quite challenging to relate to you.
Think about it…can you truly build a lasting, close, and meaningful relationship with someone who is hiding or suppressing a significant part of who they are or what they are going through?
Until they are ready to tear down their own walls, they will remain impenetrable.
5. Your Pursuit of Personal Development will Become Stagnant
I mentioned earlier that ignoring our negative emotions could even have lasting effects on our levels of achievement. Now I’m not saying that you won’t reach success if you choose to ignore your emotions.
Yet, in terms of personal development, you WILL become stagnant. I think we all know people who are extremely successful in their careers but who very much lack emotional stability in their personal lives.
I know of someone in my life that has chosen to chase the mighty dollar, and he has done a great job with that pursuit! However, he also has a slew of broken wives and children in his wake. A lot of people clap at his accomplishments, but the overall picture of his life makes me sad for him. Imagine what he could be, both in his career and his personal life, if he chose to be present in both?
Will you allow the uncomfortableness of emotions to derail your FULL potential?
6. Your Behaviors will Exhibit a Tendency to Numb
This can look very different depending on who you are but here are some common examples of how we choose to numb ourselves:
- Illegal drugs
- Gaming systems
This list is not exhaustive, but I imagine we can all relate to one or two of them. While the majority of these things can be used for good, rest, or pleasure, in excess, they can numb our realities and ultimately keep us stuck.
7. You will Feel Powerless as Life Passes You By
When you choose to ignore your negative emotions, the lens through which you view life will become skewed. People you encounter will no longer have good intentions, bad experiences seem to occur more frequently, and the power you had to change things fades with time.
This doesn’t have to be the way it is though. You don’t have to remain a bystander in your own life; you can take control once again. It will require some hard work and probably some uncomfortable conversations, but the more you lean into your vulnerability, the more connected you will become. I’m sure that sounds counterintuitive, but it is absolute truth.
I implore you to…
Allow yourself to feel and then embrace the love, courage, joy, hope, creativity, and authenticity that arises from showing up and being seen. We don’t want you to be perfect or to have it all together, we just want the real you to be fully present.
Brene Brown puts it so beautifully, “only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”.
Let us know how negative emotions sabotaged your journey in the comment section below!