Why Is It Important To Be Honest About Your Emotions?
Being Honest About Our Emotions For Personal Growth
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a family member, a romantic partner, friends, or colleagues.
A terse smile in a complicated situation.
We all deflect questions about our well-being with practiced ease. Over time, we forget that it is okay to be honest about your mood, feelings, and state of being. We program ourselves into thinking, “they don’t really care how I’m doing, they don’t really care if that affects me, they’re only asking to be polite.” But is it actually beneficial to keep these things bottled up so that we don’t become burdensome to those around us? Or have we allowed our mental disorders to cloud our judgment and keep us shackled to these false truths.
Psychology Today states that “controlling our feelings is a form of self-manipulation that we perform in an effort to control others’ responses to us in the hopes of winning their approval or minimizing the chances of them feeling hurt, angry, or displeased with us.” We are so focused on maintaining a position of power that we do not realize how detrimental it has become to our own mental and emotional health.
Sometimes, our emotional suppression goes beyond enquires about our state of being. It may include physical and mental trauma that elicits an emotional response that we are unsure we are safe to express. We endure so many triggers, negative situations, and toxic surroundings that if we are not encouraged to show or express what exactly we are feeling, we may never properly address the other issues that may arise because of our emotional ineptitude.
Negative Effects Of Withholding Your Emotions
Research is in agreeance that an individual suffering from mental health disorders (e.g. anxiety or depression), and even those who do not, are negatively impacted when they suppress their emotions. Some of these effects include:
- Mental Exhaustion
With our minds focused on maintaining the facade of what we think other people would rather deal with than what we are actually feeling, the mind becomes exhausted. Mental exhaustion may deplete our already waning endorphins and induce a mental illness episode. Mental health disorders thrive best when there are hormonal imbalances, stress, and exhaustion, as such, if we engage in suppressing our feelings we are encouraging the disorder to thrive.
- Poor Sleep Patterns
Our sleep patterns typically reflect our mood and level of tiredness. Persons with depression attest to sleeping more, while persons with anxiety indicate they sleep less. If we are focused on what our emotional displays should be instead of actually allowing them to be, even though we are mentally exhausted, it may cause changes in sleep habits. For example, in some cases, persons who have dealt with great emotional and/or physical trauma, without any outlet to deal with the issue, indicate that insomnia becomes
A regular aspect of their life.
- Memory Lapses
Similar to the above, the focus on the situation or trauma endured may cause the mind to lose track of the situation. Details pertaining to the situation become skewed, or forgotten altogether, in order to ease the exhaustion it may be inducing.
- Poor Physical Health
Research has indicated that during high-stress situations that individuals may endure high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and digestive problems such as ulcers, constipation, acid reflux, and in some cases, diarrhea/loose bowels. Since the suppression of emotions leads to high-stress levels, then these symptoms are expected to occur.
- Comfort (Stress) Eating or Starving (Eating Disorders)
Emotional turmoil can cause a person’s appetite to increase significantly which may lead to an increase in weight. That leads to possible health risks later on. Likewise, a decrease in appetite can cause detrimental health outcomes. Internalized emotional trauma can push the appetites out of control and lead to the development of eating disorders (ED), which includes Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating. When a certain feeling becomes associated with binge eating or other symptoms of ED, normal life becomes compromised.
- Emotional Numbness
Forcing emotional responses and feelings into a box, or constantly forcing your mind to believe that certain situations do not affect you, may lead the brain to believe that this is actually the case. As such, the natural response does not occur and you become emotionally numb. This may severely affect the human psyche. Eventually, it may spill over into other reactions and lead to more severe actions, such as self-harm. Many people indicate that They engage in self-harm in order to justify a feeling or to make attempts at regulating their emotions.
According to Psychology Today, “Studies conducted by Nock and Prinstein (2004, 2005) suggest that there are four primary reasons for engaging in Non-Suicidal Self Injury: 1) to reduce negative emotions, 2) to feel “something” besides numbness or emptiness, 3) to avoid certain social situations, and 4) to receive social support.” However, repeated self-injury can cause the person to become desensitized to the pain and lead to them seeking more severe and frequent injuries.
Positive Effects Of Releasing Your Emotions
Instead of fostering an atmosphere that pulls us deeper into negative cycles and enables our mental health problems to flourish, we should seek avenues in life that allow us to rest and refocus on developing ourselves. Below I outline some positive effects of being emotionally honest:
- Emotional Growth
Feelings and emotions are a critical part of being human. We are made up of several senses that help us throughout our daily lives, and as we develop, they develop. Our emotions are no different. Emotions should grow and become more than something we feel because we are exposed to a situation.
Emotional honesty should become so second nature that it allows us to view the world, and the people in it, in new ways. Like our senses, they should be able to attune us to possibly dangerous or harmful situations. Emotional Intelligence is defined as being able to acknowledge, manage, and express feelings, as well as the ability to engage and navigate the feelings of others around us. The more we understand our own emotional intelligence, the better equipped we will be to deal with emotionally-charged situations, going further than deflecting, or creating an atmosphere for mental health issues to develop. Unlike our IQ, which does not change significantly over a lifetime, our EQ can evolve and increase with our desire to learn and grow.
- Learning More About Yourself
Being emotionally honest is challenging when our lower based emotions such as anger, sadness, and other less than favorable feelings, are strong in a situation. However, identifying the feelings and allowing ourselves to move through them naturally will enable us to identify when they arise and how exactly to address them. Other emotions, such as happiness, excitement, and peace, will also benefit from this, as we are no longer focused on regularly suppressing the other emotions. When we can identify what triggers our emotional responses, and how we react in those situations, we are better able to express ourselves. Our emotions become less of a stressor and are given the space to expand beyond their primal (raw) state.
- Holding People Accountable For Their Actions And Reactions
Becoming aware of emotive responses will also better enable us to deal with those around us who may be agitators, whether knowingly or unknowingly. We can build better boundaries that will prevent or cut down on the amount of toxic and traumatic situations we find ourselves in. Since we live in a society that can be emotionally stunted, many people are unaware that their attitudes and behaviors cause emotional distress.
Instead of hiding your emotions and leaving the person unaware, being honest about your feelings will address their ignorance. Like most things, this can either have a positive outcome for both parties or can cause more negative outcomes. Whatever the case may be, you as the emotionally honest individual are left with the positives. You’ve gained either someone who will be understanding of your emotions or have a better idea of who to expunge from your life.
- Being Honest Builds Your Confidence
All skills that we develop and hone leave us feeling more secure and confident when we have to utilize them. We are more likely to want to participate in an action or situation that we feel we are prepared for. Developing our emotional honesty better enables us to feel good about ourselves in spite of what situation we may be in. At least we know we tried. We may be vulnerable, but it takes a strong individual to put themselves out there to be possibly ridiculed or treated differently. We are allowed to be authentically ourselves.
- Being Honest Reduces Stress
Repressing emotions is exhausting. Being dishonest consumes a lot of time and energy. It is a great way to ensure a heavier stress load (and all the negative health outcomes that result). If emotional honesty can decrease our stress level, it will also reduce the physiological effects that come with chronic stress.
- Better Physical Health
Instead of focusing on the emotional turmoil or being better equipped to deal with emotional usurp, we are less likely to face the previously mentioned problems like heart palpitations and stomach problems.
In some cases, emotional expressions should be withheld (within reason). For example, a coworker may be inciting a reaction that is founded on frustration and anger. Instead of following your instinct to physically harm them or say something inappropriate, you choose to internalize the anger and frustration. Though we are encouraging an atmosphere of releasing feelings and emotions, this situation invites you to focus on higher emotions, such as compassion and understanding (and keeps your police record clean).
There are other instances that require us to think before we express our emotional impulses as it is better for our psychological health as well as others around us. Ultimately, we must focus on better developing healthy ways of self-expression in a society that praises emotional ineptitude. With the benefits of positive emotional expressions outweighing suppression, let us encourage one another to be our authentic selves. Developing this skill will take time and effort, like any other skill we have learned in life. This is something I must remind myself daily.
We must practice, and continue to look for new ways in which we can hone this skill. Emotions are like muscles, if we are not intentional with our exercise we lose the strength within the muscles. The more we learn to be honest and open, the more authentic relationships and interactions we will have. Our ability to discern positive people and situations will better enable us to foster healthy mental atmospheres that strengthen us to better fight our inner struggles. Vulnerability is strength and anyone who learns to utilize it will be better for it.
Below are some links that can be used to help with this honest journey:
For the science lovers:
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