Updated: Jun 16, 2021
A lot of us go through life thinking that, in order to be emotionally strong, we need to stop ourselves from expressing what we think or feel.
We are often told or made to feel that being ‘emotionally strong’ means
Keeping our feelings and emotions to ourselves,
Not crying or getting angry
Letting go or ignoring things
Not being afraid
Taking care of others and their feelings over our own
The idea of emotional suppression has long been associated with emotional strength. However, instead of making us more resilient or strong, it actually robs us off our ability to self-regulate, express ourselves in healthy ways and creates a sense of disconnection between how we operate in our internal & external environment.
It leaves us feeling overwhelmed, lost and confused about how should we think, feel and act with respect to ourselves and others.
It leads us to experience a sense of emotional burden that we carry around with us all the time that interferes in our day-to-day lives. When we suppress our emotions for too long i.e., when we deny ourselves any expression of those, stuff them down or push them away; the following things happen
It leads to an increase in irritation, agitation, anger after a point in time.
It can bring about feelings of anxiety and suffocation
It also gives rise to feelings of loneliness & being low
Interest in pleasurable activities and maintaining a routine goes down
We may find ourselves displacing our anger & irritation onto other people
It leads to constant overthinking, disturbed sleep and a reduction in appetite
Being Emotionally Strong doesn’t mean suppressing or not expressing our emotions. In fact, the ability to Self-Regulate and express emotions appropriately, lies at the heart of developing emotional strength.
Therefore, developing emotional strength then involves
Acknowledging your emotions i.e. understanding that you are feeling angry, sad, hurt, irritated etc. and that’s okay.
Accepting your own emotions and not denying them by saying ‘Everything is okay’, ‘I am fine’ when you’re actually not.
Expressing your emotions in a healthy, constructive manner. For instance, asking for time off or space when you’re feeling overwhelmed or letting yourself cry instead of holding your tears back. If somebody’s behavior is causing you distress, then it’s important to let them know, instead of tolerating it.
Acknowledging your emotional needs such as reaching out to someone when you feel the need to or giving yourself spac